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  • Purvi Agarwal

Indo-French Ties Deepen Post Macron’s Visit as Republic Day Chief Guest


The 75th Republic Day of India saw a grand display of female empowerment. The Kartavya Path, hosting 77,000 dignitaries and participants, showcased the nation as the mother of democracy on January 26, 2024, with President of France Emmanuel Macron as chief guest, President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, members of the Union Cabinet, foreign diplomats and other dignitaries present. This marked the 6th visit of a French president for the Republic Day parade—the maximum number out of any other country—which was further reinforced by a vibrant cultural tapestry and an elaborate military parade. The French Rafales flew alongside the Indian Rafales over the gathering on an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French air force, a first for a foreign air force. There was also an exchange of tweets on Platform X by the French president and PM Modi. Referring to a march past by the combined 30-member band and 95-member marching contingent of the French Armed Forces, Macron said it was a great honour for France and thanked India. Besides this, the Indian leader thanked his counterpart for partaking in Republic Day celebrations and remarked that his presence would add great momentum to India-France ties. Their core dynamics lie in shared democratic values, belief in multilateralism as a means to tackle global challenges, respect for international law and principles of the UN Charter, and strong economic, cultural, academic, and people-to-people ties. The nations have also engaged in dialogue and exchange on the sidelines of COP29, G7 Summits and notably a bilateral meeting reviewing progress in relations on September 10, 2023, during the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi.



(Source: @emmanuelMacron on X)


Macron’s visit comes just months after PM Modi’s Paris trip on France’s Bastille Day on July 14, 2023, which marked 25 years of Indo-France strategic partnership wherein the Punjab Regiment and Rajputana Rifle troops marched on the Champs-Élysées Avenue of Paris. According to the French embassy in India, this reciprocal invitation to national day celebrations is unprecedented and shows the deep mutual trust and unwavering friendship underpinning Indo-French ties. New Delhi and Paris relations embody the mutual vision to enhance their respective strategic independence by drawing upon a strong and enhanced bilateral cooperation.


During P.M.Modi’s visit to Paris, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was launched from the Eiffel Tower, offering secure and convenient transactions for Indian visitors and NRIs. On February 2, 2024, it was formally inaugurated at the iconic tower during the Republic Day reception. The Indian PM seemed pleased to witness this, commenting that it marks a significant step towards taking UPI global and is a wonderful example of encouraging digital payments and fostering stronger ties.



PM Modi explains UPI digital payment system to Macron in Jaipur 

(Source: ANI)

Amplifying the 25th anniversary of their partnership, the countries adopted a roadmap for bilateral relations up to 2047. The Horizon-2047 roadmap marks 100 years of India’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and France, along with 50 years of strategic partnership. It has three pillars of partnership: security and sovereignty, for the planet and for the people, essentially covering areas of peace and stability, strategic interest, defence capabilities, technology, space, climate and energy, pollution, stronger people and cultural ties, especially benefiting the youth. Additionally, it intends to make the Indo-Pacific an area of stability and sustainable development. The French president was accompanied by high-level delegates and a C-level business delegation of French majors,CEOs and industry leaders from SMEs and mid-caps. To learn more about SMEs and EICBIs’ work on growth in the business industry, read this article.



Source: PIB 


In a special briefing on the visit of the President of France to India, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said, “The two leaders have had extensive exchanges over the last year, having met six times alone in 2023, a clear reflection of the importance attached by both the leaders to this partnership, as well as the intensity of high-level supervision and direction to the relationship. The salience of the India-France partnership has only grown in today's complex geopolitical environment and our national priorities and interests.” Macron’s visit is considerably significant for a number of reasons; besides the French president and Indian PM themselves stating strengthening of ties, there was an MoU signed between New Space India Limited (NSIL) and Arianespace with regard to satellite launches, an industrial partnership between Tata and Airbus helicopters for production of H125 helicopters, two agreements between the departments of science and technology, and agreements with counterpart French institutions for joint research, healthcare cooperation, education, and artificial intelligence. An Indian Consulate in Marseille, and a French Bureau in Hyderabad have also been established and it has been agreed that 2026 will be celebrated as an India-France year of innovation. On the topic of people-to-people exchange and education, the Young Professional Scheme will promote exchanges of professionals between 18 and 35 years of age under the India-France migration and mobility partnership agreement, which will allow a 5-year Schengen visa for Indian Masters alumni of French institutions. Furthermore, the setting up of a solar academy in Senegal under the STAR-C program of the International Solar Alliance was announced, and India agreed to support France for the United Nations Ocean Conference to be organised in Nice in 2025.


Throughout the years, the relationship between India and France has been peaceful and stable, offering a calm shoulder as opposed to its neighbourhood. Bound by unwavering support throughout wars, pandemics and other crises, the countries have a promising and upward trajectory in their bilateral relationship and expectations of favourable outcomes through space, defence and geopolitical agreements. Underscoring the Indo-Pacific roadmap, France's power in the region can offer a counter to China’s aggression and expansionist policy in the maritime domain. The Indo-Pacific harbours a large portion of the world's population and 60 percent of maritime trade also passes through this region. France holds a population of 1.65 million with a vast territory and exclusive economic zone, which gives the region strategic importance to the country. Examining the strategic partnership, Horizon-2047 roadmap and the recent joint statement, New Delhi and Paris are enthusiastic about cooperating on defence, security, sovereignty and peace, multilateralism and technology; also, the India-France-Australia trilateral dialogue aims to guarantee peace, security and adherence to international law in the Indo-Pacific. This, along with France’s permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council, accumulates into a strong, reliable and reciprocal alliance in the international arena. It would be fair to assume that France is a close friend and ally to India. We might see a friendship along the lines of Japan’s Shinzo Abe or follow a strong blueprint of trade and cultural exchange with Bhutan, eliminating the China factor; further, the possibility of support in international conventions such as Nice 2025 can be expected with certainty.



Prime Minister Modi and President Macron on the Kartavya Path 

(Source: X @narendramodi)


(Purvi Agarwal is a research fellow at the Europe India Centre for Business Industry)


Sources

  1. Bhattacharya, D. (2024, January 26). Republic Day 2024: 'Nari Shakti' rules, Ram Lalla tableau, fly-past stand out. India Today. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/republic-day-2024-latest-news-updates-75-years-parade-nari-shakti-emmanuel-macron-droupadi-murmu-tableaux-air-force-fly-past-2493791-2024-01-26

  2. The Hindu. (n.d.). Republic Day 2024 Live | President Droupadi Murmu and Chief Guest Emmanuel Macron depart from the venue. The Hindu National News. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/republic-day-2024-live-updates-kartavya-path-emmanuel-macron-chief-guest/article67778947.ece

  3. India-France Bilateral Brief for MEA Website.docx. (2024, January 11). Ministry of External Affairs. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.mea.gov.in/Portal/ForeignRelation/India-France_Bilateral_Brief_for_MEA_Website.pdf

  4. India - France Joint Statement on the State Visit of H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of French Republic, to India (25 - 26 January 2024). (2024, January 27). Ministry of External Affairs. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/37534/India__France_Joint_Statement_on_the_State_Visit_of_HE_Mr_Emmanuel_Macron_President_of_French_Republic_to_India_25__26_January_2024

  5. Kumar, A. (2023, November 3). India and France in the Indo-Pacific. Indian Council of World Affairs. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from https://www.icwa.in/show_content.php?lang=1&level=1&ls_id=10130&lid=6460#_ednref9

  6. "Thank You, India": Macron Shares Glimpse Of Republic Day Parade. (2024, January 26). NDTV. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/republic-day-2024-thank-you-india-french-president-emmanuel-macron-shares-glimpse-of-republic-day-parade-4938401

  7. Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on the visit of President of France to India (January 26, 2024). (2024, January 27). Ministry of External Affairs. Retrieved February 4, 2024, from https://www.mea.gov.in/media-briefings.htm?dtl/37533/Transcript+of+Special+Briefing+by+Foreign+Secretary+on+the+visit+of+President+of+France+to+India+January+26+2024

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