Something special – On 25 years of the India-France strategic partnership | 17 July 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about India-France strategic partnership.


  • GS2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests;
  • Prelims


  • This year marked the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between France and India.
  • To celebrate this successful strategic partnership and further consolidate it, the Indian Prime Minister recently visited France.


Background of India-France relationship:

  • India and France have traditionally had close and friendly relations.
  • The two countries entered into a Strategic Partnership in 1998, which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.
  • Here are some key points about the India-France relationship:
    • Trade: Both countries have a centuries-old history of trade relations. In recent years, trade between India and France has been growing steadily, with France being India's ninth-largest trading partner in the European Union.
    • Defence: India and France have a strong defense partnership, with France being one of India's key suppliers of military hardware. The two countries have also conducted joint military exercises, such as the Varuna naval exercise.
    • Culture and Education: India and France have a rich cultural exchange, with many Indian students studying in France and vice versa. The two countries also collaborate on scientific research and development.
    • Climate Change: India and France have a shared commitment to combating climate change and have worked together on initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance.
  • Overall, the India-France relationship is characterized by strategic autonomy, independent foreign policies, and a shared commitment to promoting peace, security, and sustainable development.

Developments in the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister to France:

  • The Indian Prime Minister attended the Bastille Day parade in France as chief guest.
    • PM Modi is the second PM to be invited as chief guest, Dr. Manmohan Singh was the first (2009).
    • This Bastille Day parade also saw Indian tri-service participation.
  • Chief among the agreements was the strategic road map for the next 25 years — “Horizon 2047” — which includes cooperation in defence, space, nuclear energy, climate change and green transitions as well as education and people-to-people ties.
  • Another road map was released on how to cooperate further in the Indo-Pacific region, which includes military and naval exchanges and a trilateral development fund to help countries in the region.
  • There were also the decisions, in principle, to buy 26 more Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf (Rafale-M), this time for the Indian Navy; three more Scorpene submarines in continuation to the purchases of 2008, and an agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran for helicopter engines.

Significance of the relationship:

  • In the broader picture, the France-India strategic relationship is built on a respect for each other’s strategic autonomy.
  • France has remained steadfast in its refusal to comment on India’s internal affairs or its foreign policy choices.
  • While France has taken a leading role in the western pushback to Russia’s war in Ukraine, it has not joined other western countries in publicly exhorting India to change its stand.
  • In 1974, and in 1998, France did not join the western push to sanction India for its nuclear tests either; it even stepped in with uranium supplies to power the Tarapur reactors.

Way Forward:

  • India and France are long-standing strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific. They intend to work together in the interest of maintaining peace and global security.
  • France and India are linked via common values, a shared commitment to democracy, and a will to support and defend multilateralism and international law.
  • Their partnership is not just about global diplomacy, defence, and high technology, but also about foreign direct investment.

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