UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 7 May 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the prospects of India-France relations and the way ahead.

Syllabus: GS-II International Relations


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France on May 4 is his fifth since 2015, and the 10th such high-level bilateral visit.


  • France represented the European Union’s (EU) case on the potential India-EU Free Trade Agreement, and on the EU’s position on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
    • Indeed, they have long been reliable partners, and friends in need – as recently as 2019 when the first French-built Rafale aircraft arrived in India.
  • The two countries are now forging ahead with cooperation on 21st-century issues like digital, cyber, green energy, blue economy and ocean sciences and space.
    • Both countries possess advance skills and have similar thinking in these areas and can enhance trade, and investment and together rebuild disrupted supply chains.
    • Both can work to insulate the Indo-Pacific from the worst consequences of current conflicts.
  • Two areas of cooperation are particularly bright — energy and digital technology.
    • France is a significant global power with expertise in both fields.
      • A recent Track 1.5 Dialogue hosted jointly by think tanks — Gateway House in Mumbai and Ifri in Paris — revealed the importance of Bangalore for the French economy, noting the large number of tech engineers from France who are located in the southern city.
      • France also has a special tech visa for Indian engineers, enabling robust exchanges.
    • Digital cooperation is being stepped up in several ways.
      • More can be done in the area of digital sovereignty where India is a potential model for France with its use of open platforms and open-source public goods like India Stack and MOSIP; regulation, especially personal data empowerment and protection; health data and health tech.
    • France and India must now invest in preventing digital platforms from being weaponised and avert threats to critical infrastructure.
    • India and France have shown they can work together in developing renewable energies, for instance through the International Solar Alliance.
      • Both also recognise hydrogen as a serious alternative.
      • More than energy, hydrogen matters for food security as it is used to make urea fertiliser.
      • It can also be used as fuel for heavy trucks, which account for 40 per cent of India’s oil consumption.
      • But India needs $1 trillion for green hydrogen infrastructure and the ecosystem, which includes massive investments in grids, where France has proven expertise, having developed part of the EU grid.

Way Ahead:

  • India has the market, France has the technology and capital, and the EU has the political will and incentives to drive the transition to green hydrogen.

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