Thursday, 15 March 2018

Interesting Hindu article about France-India ties' recent history, current agreements and future prospects by former Indian Ambassador to France

The French connections by Rakesh Sood, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-french-connections/article23229921.ece, 14th March 2018. [Author Rakesh Sood's wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakesh_Sood.]

This is a very interesting article giving vital background of Indo-French ties. Many thanks to former Ambassador Sood for this useful article.

Some key points from the article:

*) India-France strategic partnership launched in 1998 seems to have come of age with recent visit of French President Macron to India.

*) France prides itself on its own 'exceptionalism' and so has been sympathetic to India having a similar view based on its ancient history. So in the 1990s (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union) with USA being viewed as a hyperpower or only superpower in what was being viewed as a Unipolar world, France and India both voiced support for a multi-polar world.

*) The article covers defence and space co-operation between France and India in some detail.

*) Previous engagement between the two countries were more government to government with limited people to people engagement. Now there is a drive towards more people to people engagement in areas related to fighting climate change, solar power, urban planning etc.

*) Trade between France and India is at $10 billion which is half of India's trade with Germany. Both countries are working on improving the bilateral trade. French president Macron invited Indian businesses to view France as the entry point into Europe.

*) Youth and student exchanges are being given a fillip. An agreement to mutually recognize academic degrees was signed between France and India during Macron visit. From the current 2500 Indian students going to France every year for higher education, the goal is to increase it to 10,000 by 2020.

*) Efforts are being made to improve tourism too between the two countries.
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Here's a recent Hindu editorial on French president Macron visit to India: Indo-French harmony: on President Macron's visit to India, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/indo-french-harmony/article23164339.ece, 13th March 2018.

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Ravi: As an Indian citizen living in India, I fully support a strong, strategic and vibrant relationship between France and India. There are many shared values and shared aspirations between the people of France and the people of India, even though economic level wise, France is a much richer country than India. India and France should co-operate on those areas where both benefit and steer clear of areas where there is widespread discomfort in the people of either country (to work together).

In particular, sensitive immigration and job losses concerns of the French people must be addressed to the satisfaction of the French people - and similarly concerns of the Indian people must be addressed - in any area that India and France co-operate. If such concerns cannot be addressed either with the French people or with the Indian people, in any particular area, then it is better to avoid co-operation/working together in that area.

The French and the Indian people should NOT have a perception at large that they are losing out due to continued bilateral work in an area. That is important for the long-term health of Indo-French ties, in my considered opinion.

[I thank thehindu.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above notes from the above mentioned article on their website, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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