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Examining the India-France Partnership’s Blue Initiative

Context

The 25th anniversary of India and France’s strategic partnership presents a significant opportunity for both countries to reflect on their relationships.

Relevance

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and affecting India’s interests; India- France Relation

Mains Question

With success, India and France have concluded their 25-year strategic partnership. List the areas where France and India cooperate. (250 Words)


Key Points

  • Since its establishment in 1998, the long-standing strategic partnership has accelerated due to the two countries’ shared values, aspirations for peace, stability, and—most importantly—their desire for strategic autonomy.
    • France is the 11th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of $10.31 billion from April 2000 to June 2022, which represents 1.70% of the total foreign direct investment inflows into India.
  • France has emerged as a key trading partner of India with annual trade of $12.42 billion in 2021–22.

India-France Partnership

  • India and France have a strong partnership in the defence sector, with France emerging as India’s second-largest defence supplier between 2017 and 2021.
  • A key example of this is the introduction of the French Scorpene conventional submarines, which are being built in India under a technology transfer agreement from 2005, and the Indian Air Force’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets. France has also increased military-to-military engagement.
    • The extensive network of military consultations and frequently held joint exercises, Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army), further solidify these ties (army).
      • Mutual Cooperation at the Global Level: o Both nations have worked to deepen and expand their cooperation as the complexity of the global geopolitical order has grown.
  • France was one of the first nations with which India signed a civil nuclear agreement, and it was crucial in preventing India from becoming too isolated in the non-proliferation order following the 1998 nuclear tests.
    • France supports India’s application for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council and its admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group as a sign of growing cooperation.
      • Cooperation on Climate Change: This issue is crucial for both countries, and India backed France in the Paris Agreement to demonstrate its commitment to reducing the effects of climate change.
    • In 2015, New Delhi and Paris established the International Solar Alliance as a part of their collaborative efforts to combat climate change.
      • Maritime Cooperation: Their maritime cooperation demonstrates how their strategic partnership is deepening.
  • India and France are permanent nations in the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean, respectively.
    • The “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,” which provided a roadmap for closer ties, was warmly received by the governments of both nations.
    • As both nations have expressed their shared vision for a free, fair, and open Indo-Pacific, maritime security has gained momentum.
    • India and France agreed in September 2022 to establish an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund, which will support sustainable innovative solutions for nations in the region, as both nations share a comprehensive strategy for the Indo-Pacific.
    • To ensure maritime domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific, the two partners have established a trilateral grouping with the United Arab Emirates.
      • Russia-Ukraine Crisis: o Despite differences in opinion regarding the Ukraine crisis, both nations have a good understanding of one another’s viewpoints and are coordinating to play a helpful role in the crisis.
    • Notable among the few world leaders who have kept lines of communication open with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine are Mr. Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Way forward

  • The partnership between France and India is based on shared values and objectives.
    • Both have emphasised the significance of upholding strategic independence with a common understanding of global risks in numerous fields.
  • A high-level political dialogue between India and France is currently taking place in the areas of defence, maritime, counterterrorism, and the Indo-Pacific.
  • In areas like digitisation, cyber, green energy, a blue economy, ocean sciences, and space, they are now moving forward with cooperation.
  • France and India are aware of one another’s interests and reliances, whether they pertain to China or Russia.

Conclusion

There is still much room for cooperation in light of the long-standing strategic partnership and shared interest in boosting strategic autonomy and resilience.


February 2024
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