India and France Relations – Rafale, Bastille Day.

France witnessed a two-day high-profile visit of PM Modi. He also attended the bastille day celebration in France. India and France relations are time tested and there has been no major strain in the relationships since 1998 which marked the beginning of a ‘total convergence’ relationship. France which is the largest country in Europe holds a special place for India.

Key Highlights of the Visit:

Defence

India and France

  1. A deal for the supply of 36 rafale aircraft in 2016 and an industrial agreement to build 6 European Pressurized Water Reactors (EPR) at the Jaitapur site in 2018 was already signed. This has led to increased cooperation in the critical defence weapons and nuclear security of India.
  2. France is the second largest supplier of defence equipment to India (~26%) surpassing the US (11%).
  3. The acquisition of medium-lift C-295 (which is an Airbus defence and space) from France.
  4. there may be an agreement or announcement by the GOI to procure 26 Rafale – M (Marine Version). This would help to ensure the maritime security of India.
  5. There may be co-production of three more Scorpion class submarines at the PSU Mazagon dock shipbuilders Ltd. which has already produced 6 Scorpion or Kaveri class submarines under an earlier agreement. (Project 75 India Program: P-75I)
  6. Like the US, the French have offered their Saffron Engine to be Fully made in India. There would be a 100 per cent transfer of the technology and India can also export the manufactured engine.
  7. military exercises – Garuda (Airforce), Varuna (Navy), and Shakti (Army).

Science and Environment (France)

  1. India and France share the vision of sustainable development and abide by the targets of the Paris Deal. Paris Deal gave binding targets to the Annex 1 countries  (France) and non-binding targets to non-annexe countries ( India).
  2. In October 2022, a roadmap for green Hydrogen was signed between India and France.
  3. In Feb 2022, they signed a roadmap for Blue Economy and Ocean Governance.
  4. The roadmap for cooperation on digital technology was related to cards on 6G, Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence.
  5. An MoU was also signed between NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) and Lyra (French-based) for UPI and Rupay payments in Europe.
  6. The cooperation between ISRO and the French national centre for space studies (CNES) dates back to the 1960s.

Economic and Political (France)

  1. there is an emphasis on a free trade agreement between India and France.
  2. France is a major source of FDI for India with more than 1000 French establishments in India.
  3. Neither India has spoken about riots in France nor France has spoken about the Manipur violence in India. Both India and France have a long tradition of not commenting on each other’s internal matters.
  4. both countries condemn terrorism and are on the same page for the adoption of the comprehensive convention of International Terrorism (CCIT).
  5. At Viva Tech Event held last year in Paris, India was awarded the ‘country of the year’.
  6. At the Cannes 2022, India was seen as the ‘country of the year’.
  7. France even supports India’s claim to permanent membership of the UNSC. It also supported India’s entry into groups like Wassenaar, MTCR, Australia etc.

Significance of the Visit

  1. Both India and France have been respecting each other’s strategic autonomy. Recently, France has given warning signals asserting their strategic autonomy away from the US as France is ensuring cooperation with China. France is well assured that the escalation of tensions between the US and China would not be beneficial for the European Union and France.
  2. The Russia – Ukraine war has put France into the fore seat of the EU. if there is an escalation of tensions between the EU and Russia, France would be leading the race. Hence, India needs to ensure a close and key test with Paris.
  3. The tilt towards India does not automatically mean driving away from China. According to the experts, France is not even thinking of de-risk from China forget de-couple. Thus, India should respect the strategic autonomy of France.
  4. France is the only EU state physically present in the Indo-Pacific. Hence, Cooperation with France shall be useful to counter China and contribute to the Quad.
  5. France is also vital to assess the moods of the EU as well as NATO for the G20 summit in India. Thus, the support of France is vital for the positive outcome at the G20 summit.
  6. Unlike GE 414 Engine deal where the US is obligating export control requirements and not transferring the critical technologies, France is ready to transact 100% technology and no export control requirement.

Expert Comments 

  1. Mohan Kumar – France was one of the 1st countries to recognise the strategic importance of India after the 1998 nuclear test. The Indo-France partnership has been marked by ‘Total Convergence’.
  2. D K Venkatesh Varma – India and France are the ‘mirror images of each other’ in their common quest for strategic autonomy and big power play. Both of them desire a multipolar world.

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is celebrated on the 14th of July every year in France. It is associated with the military parade, dancing and celebrations. It marks the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution which gave the idea of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. On 14th July 1989, the revolutionaries stormed the Fort Bastille where political prisoners like Voltaire were stationed during a series of events in the French Revolution.

In the 1880s there was extreme chaos in France, people were already struggling with the food price and the 1988 famine added up to the same. The irresponsible king and the queen were enjoying their lavish life paying no heed to the requirements of the public. Seeing the chaos, Luious The XVI called for an estate general. There were three estates in France at that time 1st estate (nobility), 2nd estate (Clergy) and 3rd estate (Commoners).

Every estate has one voting rights, however, 3rd estate was disproportionately large in number. When the voting was done in the estate general, the reforms proposed by the 3rd estate were ignored and taxes like teethe and taille were not revoked. This led to anger among a faction of the estate general and they met up in the tennis court and established their own National Assembly.

When the situation got out of control. The king of France Louis XVI opted for force and called for a violent retaliation. The protestors gathered around the palace of the king. When the king ordered troops to suppress the revolution, a mutiny occurred in the army and they joined the protests. After all,  a soldier is a peasant in uniform.

Then they all marched towards the fort bastille where political prisoners were kept. They stormed the fort and the personnel to release the prisoners and gave France a new lease of life. Later, the king and queen were also killed and French Revolution continued to inspire revolutions around the world.

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