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June 23, 2024

Macron’s India Visit Cements Strategic Partnership Amid Global Challenges

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Jan 25, 2024

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in India on January 25th for a three-day visit as Chief Guest of India’s 75th Republic Day celebrations, bringing a large delegation to Delhi intent on cementing the two countries’ strategic partnership.

Grand Welcome in Jaipur Sets Stage for Strong Ties

Macron landed in Jaipur, Rajasthan on January 25th where he received a grand welcome alongside Prime Minister Modi. The leaders took part in a 8km roadshow through Jaipur amid heavy security, waving to large crowds from their open-top car.

Key sites like the Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal had been lit up and decorated ahead of Macron’s arrival. Locals lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the leaders despite tight security. Macron marveled at the Amber Palace’s unique architecture during his tour, and discussed opportunities for further cooperation in areas like defense, space, civil nuclear energy, and more.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot chaired meetings ahead of Macron’s arrival to coordinate preparations. Their warm welcome signals India’s intent to strengthen ties with France even as Macron looks to build on recent trade deals.

Strategic Partnership Showcased at Republic Day Celebrations

On January 26th, Macron attended India’s Republic Day parade as Chief Guest, showcasing key aspects of the two countries’ strategic partnership:

Joint Military Exercises on Display

The parade featured military capabilities developed through years of Indo-French joint exercises, like the Garuda series air exercises and the Varuna naval exercises. This illustrates their deepening defense ties.

Six French Army veterans of Indian origin also marched in the parade with the French contingent, symbolizing historic military bonds. Currently 25 Indians serve in the French Foreign Legion.

Rafale Jets Conduct Flypast

French Rafale jets headlined the Republic Day flypast alongside Indian planes. 36 Rafales have been inducted so far under a 2016 deal worth €7.8 billion. India is looking to procure more as it faces security threats from China and Pakistan.

Local production of Rafales in India is also being explored under Modi’s “Make in India” initiative. This could further cement defense ties.

Space Cooperation Showcased

The parade featured a float developed jointly by Indian and French space agencies ISRO and CNES, showing models of current and future collaborative projects like climate monitoring satellites and Mars exploration.

Areas highlighted included space security, human spaceflight, and more – signed under a new bilateral Space Cooperation Agreement.

Strategic Concerns Driving Deeper Engagement

Macron’s visit comes as India faces an increasingly aggressive China at its borders and global uncertainty grows. France believes India is key to ensuring a “multipolar” global order:

Key Strategic Interests Details
Countering China’s influence With China expanding influence across Asia and the Indian Ocean region, France backs India as a democratic counterweight and crucial security provider alongside partners like the US, Japan and Australia.
Indo-Pacific stability France has territories spanning the Indo-Pacific. Along with India it wants to uphold international rules and norms like freedom of navigation against Chinese violations.
Global leadership As Western powers decline, France wants India as an emerging pole in a multipolar world. Both seek UNSC membership and back a multipolar global order over China’s unilateralism.

Meanwhile India sees France as a trusted strategic partner, reflected in several key deals:

Key Strategic Deals

Deal Details
Rafale fighter jets €7.8 billion deal signed in 2016 to supply 36 jets, with more orders likely. Enhances India’s air power.
Submarine technology transfer Will enable India to produce 6 diesel-electric attack subs domestically with French guidance, building strategic capability.
Space cooperation Will enhance India’s space security and technological prowess in areas like human spaceflight, climate monitoring, exploration.

These deals diversify India’s suppliers, reducing reliance on Russia. President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has increased doubts over Russian reliability.

Expanding Economic Engagement

While their strategic alignment drives defense deals, Macron’s visit saw commitments to expand economic ties as well:

Trade Deals Signed

Over a dozen trade agreements worth €13 billion were signed during Macron’s visit across areas like renewable energy, ecology, infrastructure, aviation, and more. Annual bilateral trade crossed $13 billion in recent years but both sides want to increase volumes substantially.

India invited greater French investment especially under Modi’s signature “Make in India” program. Macron expressed interest in investing in the green economy and technology transfers.

Connectivity and Climate Focus

Connectivity projects around ports and railways were discussed, along with partnerships on fighting climate change as global temperatures keep rising. Macron praised India’s renewable energy commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow.

France also backed India’s leadership of the International Solar Alliance to ramp up solar power capacity globally. Significant funds have been committed to renewable initiatives in India under French concessional loans.

Talks on FTA to Conclude Soon

Most importantly, the leaders stated that negotiations on an India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are on track to conclude by the end of 2024.

The FTA aims to reduce tariffs on thousands of products traded between India and the EU, which is currently India’s second largest trading partner. An FTA would boost trade and investment flows substantially.

Deep Roots to Rivalrous Colonial Past

While Indian and French leaders today toasted their strategic friendship, their relationship has not always been smooth.

France was the first Western power to establish trading posts in India. But mistrust grew under colonial rule, culminating in multiple wars between French and British Indian troops across the subcontinent during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Yet Indian troops later fought alongside France in both World Wars. And after independence, India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru shared an affinity with French leaders. His socialism and anti-imperialist stance resonated with post-War French governments.

This paved the way for Indo-French cooperation in areas like space and nuclear technology when both were isolated by the West. France proved a reliable developmental partner, cementing ties that last until today.

Road Ahead: An Enduring Alliance

As Macron concludes a highly successful trip to India, the future looks bright for Indo-French relations even as global turbulence grows. Their expanding strategic alignment and deepening economic interlinkages signal an enduring alliance.

Both India and France have relayed a clear message through this visit – that they remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order and will back each other as anchors of stability whether in the Indo-Pacific or globally.

With shared interests spanning defense, space, trade and climate change, regular high-level exchanges between Delhi and Paris look set to continue. And their maturing strategic embrace should see India and France emerge as pillars of a multipolar world in the 21st century.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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