Rupal Kalebere

India and France share a multifaceted strategic partnership that extends beyond political, cultural, and economic realms. Their collaboration in the field of defence and security has steadily grown, marked by shared objectives, joint exercises, and bilateral agreements. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France for the 14th July National Day celebrations approaches, it is an opportune time to reflect on the shared vision of peace and security between the two nations and the prospects of further enhancing defence cooperation. 

India and France uphold the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter, serving as the foundation for their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Both countries share a common vision of ensuring stability, promoting multilateralism, and safeguarding the rules-based international order. This shared vision aims to address global challenges, maintain regional security, and foster peace and prosperity.  

The strategic partnership between India and France has witnessed significant progress over the years, with defence cooperation being a vital pillar of this partnership. The collaboration includes joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, defence technology transfer, and maritime security cooperation. Exercises like La Perouse and Exercise Varuna 2023 exemplify the joint efforts to enhance interoperability and exchange best practices between their armed forces.  

India and France recognize the importance of addressing global challenges together. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, coinciding with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership, provides an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and set ambitious goals for the future. Discussions will likely focus on common initiatives to tackle issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. This reaffirms both nations’ commitment to multilateralism, particularly in the context of India’s G20 Presidency.

The invitation extended to Prime Minister Modi as the Guest of Honour for France’s National Day celebrations holds immense significance. Bastille Day, commemorating the French Revolution, symbolizes the values of “liberty, equality, fraternity.” The participation of Indian armed forces alongside their French counterparts in the military parade reflects the solidarity, trust, and close ties between the two countries. This invitation underscores the long-term commitment between India and France, setting the stage for further collaboration across various sectors.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France holds immense potential for further enhancing defence cooperation between the two nations. The discussions are expected to focus on strengthening existing defence ties, exploring new avenues for technology transfer, and promoting joint research and development initiatives. Key areas of cooperation include defence procurement, maritime security, counterterrorism, and defence industry collaboration. These efforts will bolster the defence capabilities of both countries and contribute to regional security.

India and France collaborate extensively in civil nuclear energy, focusing on developing nuclear technologies, implementing safety measures, and conducting training programs. French companies, including EDF, play a significant role in contributing to the construction of nuclear power plants in India. Additionally, both countries have strengthened their cooperation in counter-terrorism, establishing an intensive network of exchanges and joint actions between their intelligence and security forces.

Recognizing the strategic importance of the maritime domain and the Indo-Pacific region, India and France engage in bilateral naval exercises, exchange information on maritime surveillance, and share data to ensure security and stability in the Indian Ocean region. Reciprocal logistics support grants mutual access to military bases, facilitating closer cooperation and coordination in maintaining maritime security.

France is a key defence partner for India, supplying advanced defence equipment such as Rafale fighter jets and Scorpene submarines. These acquisitions enhance India’s defence capabilities and foster technological cooperation. Joint military exercises further promote knowledge exchange and interoperability, with exercises like “Shakti” focusing on amphibious operations and strengthening defence collaboration.

The political relationship between India and France is strong, marked by a strategic partnership established in 1998. Regular high-level meetings and consultations strengthen the dialogue and deepen the partnership. State visits, like Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, foster economic, academic, scientific, and cultural exchanges. India’s participation in the G7 Summit as a guest country showcases its engagement in multilateral cooperation, reinforcing strong ties.

India and France have established a strong partnership in the field of space cooperation, contributing to advancements in scientific and technological domains. Collaborations between the French space agency, CNES, and India’s human spaceflight program highlight their joint efforts. The Indo-French scientific and technological partnership promotes joint initiatives, fostering innovation and knowledge sharing.

France has reiterated its commitment to India’s vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” or self-reliant India. This commitment includes supporting India’s defence industrialization efforts, joint research, and technology development in India across various advanced capabilities. This collaboration aims to enhance India’s self-sufficiency in defence production and promote indigenous defence manufacturing capabilities.

France has emphasized its ongoing commitment to the Indo-Pacific region as a “resident power” and views its partnership with India as a major pillar of its strategy for the region. France recognizes the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific and seeks to enhance cooperation with India in areas such as maritime security, freedom of navigation, and upholding the rules-based order in the region. This aligns with India’s Act East Policy and shared interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

The defence cooperation and strategic partnership between India and France exemplify their shared commitment to peace, security, and multilateralism. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France for the National Day celebrations serves as a milestone in this partnership, reinforcing the commitment to common objectives and exploring avenues for further collaboration. The visit is expected to bolster defence cooperation, technological advancements, and regional security. By leveraging their respective strengths, India and France work together to address global challenges and promote a more secure and prosperous world.

As per media reports India and France may sign a Government to Government deal for the Rafael-M fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy – a vital addition to national security and an important element to develop the national aerospace industry.


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