GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Bilateral Relations between India and major powers
Context: Indian PM will be the Guest of Honour at France’s Bastille Day parade in Paris. The visit coincides with 25 years of strategic partnerships with France.
Significance of the PM’s visit to France:
- Increasing investment: The visit will help diversify France and European economic ties away from China
- Boosting regional security: The visit will help boost India’s comprehensive national power and help India stabilise the balance of power in Asia
Current analysis of India-France relations:
- Characteristics: The relationship between the two countries is characterized by strategic autonomy, independent foreign policies, and a shared vision of a multipolar world.
- Security objectives prominent: Unlike Indo-German relations, which are focused on trade, India and France prioritize security objectives.
- France has helped India diversify its pool of arms suppliers beyond Russia and the US, especially when sanctions were imposed on India in the past.
- Balancing China: The relationship aims to balance China’s influence in the Indian Ocean and have a shared concern about Chinese expansionism.
- Multi-dimensional: The partnership between India and France has seen advancements through joint strategic visions, logistic support agreements, and military exercises in recent times
Dimensions of India-France Relations:
|Historical Relations||India and France had trade and cultural exchanges that can be traced back thousands of years. In the modern era, diplomatic relations between India and France were formally established in 1947 after India gained independence.|
|Strategic Dialogue||France became the first country to engage in a Strategic Dialogue with India following India’s nuclear tests in 1998. Unlike other nations, France chose not to impose bilateral sanctions on India and instead showed a deeper understanding of India’s security concerns.|
|Defence Cooperation||France was the second largest defence supplier for India in 2017- 2021.||· Induction of French Scorpene submarines and Rafale fighter jets
· Joint military exercises like Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army).
· Joint manufacturing: Tata Group tied up with Airbus to manufacture C-295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara, Gujarat.
|Economic Cooperation||Collaboration in sectors like manufacturing, infrastructure, and technology||· Bilateral trade of over USD 12 billion in 2021-22.
· France is the 11th largest foreign investor in India.
|Civil Nuclear Cooperation||India and France inked a civil nuclear pact (2008) making France the first country to have such an agreement after the USA||· France’s support in building six EPR (European Pressurized Reactors) nuclear power reactors (at Jaitpur, Maharastra)
· Joint research and development in nuclear energy
|Cooperation at International Forum||Collaboration on global issues and joint efforts in multilateral forums.||· France’s support for India’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers Group.
· Alignment on climate change, sustainable development, and counter-terrorism.
· Joint initiatives like the International Solar Alliance.
|Maritime Cooperation||Partnership in ensuring a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.||· India, France, UAE Trilateral Initiative is aimed at ensuring maritime domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.
· Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund (between India and France, September 2022)
|Space Cooperation||Collaboration in space research, satellite technology, and exploration.||· Joint working group between ISRO and CNES for enhanced cooperation e.g., planned Joint Mars Mission
· Collaboration on satellite launches, Earth observation missions, and space debris management
· Planned Joint Earth Observation Mission
|Education and Cultural Exchanges||Promoting educational, academic, and cultural exchanges between India and France.||The agreement on mutual recognition of academic degrees and the follow-on Knowledge Summit|
|Environmental Cooperation||· India and France launched the Indo-French Year of the Environment in January 2021 to strengthen cooperation on environmental issues.
· Indo-French initiatives on green hydrogen, blue economy, and environmental research.
Challenges in the relationship:
India and France don’t have Free Trade Agreement, which limits the potential for increased trade and economic cooperation. Also, there is a trade imbalance in favour of France (France exporting more to India). Also, France has many times expressed concern on India’s stance at WTO, Climate summit and on India’s protection of intellectual property rights
While military cooperation remains important, the Indo-French relationship could expand beyond arms sales. Initiatives like the International Solar Alliance and exploring minilateral and multilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific could bring additional dimensions to their partnership.
Q1. ‘Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries. Comment with examples. (UPSC 2020)
Q2. India and France are time-tested partners with their 25 years of strategic partnership covering a range of bilateral issues such as defence cooperation, space, blue economy, civil nuclear and people-to-people ties. Elaborate. (250 Words)