14 Feb 2013

Indo-French Bilateral Relationship : An Overview !

As India and France share similar ideals of freedom, democracy and cultural diversity, the Indo-French bilateral relationship is growing fast with wide-ranging cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields and on defense, space, science & technology, and education. With the establishment of the strategic partnership in 1998, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation through regular high-level exchanges at the Head of State/Head of Government levels and growing commercial exchanges including in strategic areas.

India-France-relationshipFrance was the first country with which India entered into an agreement on nuclear energy following the waiver given by International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) enabling India to resume full civil nuclear cooperation with the international community. France has consistently supported India’s increasing role in international forums, including India’s permanent membership of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC).

Some landmark moves: 

  • On 14th Feb 2013,President Mr. Francois Hollande, accompanied by five ministers including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and 60 business leaders arrived in New Delhi to held the bilateral talks with the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the team.
  • The 11th meeting of the Indo-French Research Forum (IFRF) was held in Paris from 17-19 December 2012.
  • The Indo-French CEOs Forum(IFCF), formed in 2009, has been tasked to identify new avenues for cooperation and take initiatives to facilitate business links between both countries.  The fifth meeting of India France CEOs’ Forum was held in New Delhi on 22-23 November 2012.
  • The 3rd meeting of the JWG (Joint Working Group) on Counter-terrorism was held in New Delhi on November 19-20, 2012.
  •  France and India have instituted a Strategic Dialogue at the level of National Security Advisors whose 24th round took place in New Delhi on September 4, 2012. 
  •  The latest round of Annual Foreign Office Consultations at the level of Foreign Secretaries was held in New Delhi on June 28, 2012.
  • Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Hollande met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos on 19 June 2012. This was his first meeting with the French President.
  • The High Level Committee for Defence Cooperation (HCDC) at the level of Defence Secretaries, met in New Delhi on 26-27 April 2012.
  •  French Ex-President Mr.Nicolas Sarkozy undertook his second visit to India from 4-7 December 2010 (first visit on 25-26 January, 2008) at the invitation of the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh.
  • The 16th session of the Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation, at the level of Ministers of Commerce which deals with issues related to commerce and trade, was held on 23-25 June, 2010 in Paris.
  • The Prime Minister of India was the Guest of Honour at the 14 July Bastille Day Celebrations in 2009.
  • Sept 2008: Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was signed between India and France during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to France.
Why France matters for India?

France is the fifth largest economy of the world with a total GDP of around $2,773 billion in 2012 .The GDP value of France represents 4.47 percent of the world economy. France is an important member of the G-8, OECD and G-20. Its technological strengths make it the leader in sectors such as space,aviation, food processing,railways, transport and agricultural research. France is ranked fifth in the list of India’s trading partners among EU countries (after Germany, UK, Belgium and Netherlands). 

Indo-French bilateral trade has been growing over the years. In 2010, the trade increased by about 31 per cent over trade in 2009 and stood at Euro 7.03 billion. The trade has gone up to Euro 7.46 billion, an increase of 6.23 per cent in 2011. However, French firms have in 2010 recorded intent of investing Euro 12 billion in the next couple of years.

Indo French Trade & Investment:

French investment in India:
France is the 9th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of approximately USD 3 billion [Investment was of the order of USD 2.98 billion during the period April 2000 to June 2012 which represents 2% of total inflows]. The technical and financial collaborations approved with France number 952. Top sectors attracting FDI inflows from France are Chemicals (other than fertilizers) (18.80%), Cement and Gypsum Products (15.82%), Services Sector (financial & non-financial) (9.41%), Fuels (power & oil refinery) (6.47%) & Electrical Equipments (including computer software & electronics) (5.34%) and auto sector. There are about 800 French companies in India, employing some 150,000 people. French companies have also recorded intent of investing around $ 8 billion by 2013.

French investors like Sodexo and Capgemini employ around 30,000 employees each. In fact, Capgemini has more staff in India, than it has in France. Other major investors include Schneider Electric, BNP Paribas, Sanofi, Alcatel Lucent, Steria, Renault Nissan, Alstom, Atos, Lafarge, Saint Gobain, Accor, Essilor, Technic, Michelin, Safran, L’Oreal, Dassault, Veolia, Air Liquide.

Indian Investment in France:
Palace of Versailles
In 2011, India was the 13th largest foreign investor in France in terms of project numbers. According to the Invest in France Agency (AFII), there are nearly 100 Indian companies in France. Indian Investments in France have been growing and Indian companies have invested around Euro 1 billion from April 1996 in different sectors like pharmaceuticals (Ranbaxy and Wockhardt), Software (Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys & Wipro), Wine (Kingfisher), Steel (Tata, Electrosteel), Plastics (Sintex). Railway wagons (Titagarh Wagons), Aerospace (Cades/Axis) & Autoparts (Jyoti) etc.  110 Indian-owned companies, including 27 greenfield investments, are present in France and are employing over 5,600 persons.

Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation:

A landmark Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was signed between India and France on 30 September, 2008 during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to France. Subsequently, during the visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy to India from 4-7 December 2010, the General Framework Agreement and the Early Works Agreement between NPCIL and AREVA for implementation of EPR NPP Units at Jaitapur were signed.

Civilian Space Cooperation:

The Gateway of India,Mumbai.
France and India view each other as important partners in space technology and applications. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and its French counterpart Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a rich history of cooperation and collaboration spanning about four decades. Scientific community of these two nations cooperates in joint radiation experiment, space components development and space education. ISRO and CNES (French National Space Agency) have an umbrella agreement, operating successfully since 1993, under which joint missions like Megha-Tropiques and SARAL have been taken up.

Under a commercial Launch Service Agreement between Antrix Corporation Limited (ANTRIX), the commercial arm of ISRO and ASTRIUM SAS, a Company under EADS, France, an advanced Remote Sensing satellite - SPOT-6 built by ASTRIUM SAS was successfully launched on-board ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV – C21) on 9 September 2012.

Arianespace based at France has been the major provider of launch services to Indian Geo-Stationary satellites. Subsequent to the launch of APPLE satellite on a co-operative mode, 14 Geo-Stationary satellites of India have been launched by Ariane on a commercial basis. On 28September 2012, India’s GSAT-10 was successfully launched onboard Ariane-V launcher from Kourou, French Guyana.

Defence Cooperation:

Arc De Triomphe
A 400-strong contingent of the Indian armed forces led the Bastille Day parade in 2009, for which the Prime Minister of India was the Guest of Honour - the first time ever that Indian troops took part in another country’s national day parade.

Under the framework of the structured talks under the Indo-French Defence Cooperation Agreement several meetings on industrial collaboration and service exchanges are held regularly. The High Level Committee for Defence Cooperation (HCDC) at the level of Defence Secretaries, met in New Delhi on 26-27 April 2012. The 11th meeting of the Indo-French Research Forum (IFRF) was held in Paris from 17-19 December 2012. The 16th session of the Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation, at the level of Ministers of Commerce which deals with issues related to commerce and trade, was held on 23-25 June, 2010 in Paris.

Indo-French Air Force Exercise Garuda IV was held at Istres air base in France from 14 - 25 June 2010. Indo - French Naval Exercise, Varuna was held in the Mediterranean sea off the port of Toulon from 19-22 July, 2012. The first India-France joint army exercise named Shakti was conducted in India at Chaubattia from 9-22 October 2011. 

Cultural Exchanges:

India Gate,New Delhi
Indian culture enjoys a wide and discerning audience among the French population, as is evident in the numerous and frequent cultural events organized all over France, spanning the entire gamut of Indian art, music, dance, cinema and literature.  While the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) sponsors visits of Indian artists to France as also exchange of students in the field of culture and art, there is a growing number of private impresarios who organize cultural events throughout France. A significant number of Indian artists are therefore giving performances in France regularly on a commercial basis or at the initiative of the various local cultural associations outside the purview of the official exchanges. The Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) provides the overall umbrella for the organization of a variety of cultural programmes. The last (16th) session of the Joint Commission on Culture which reviews the CEP was held on 29 September 2009, in New Delhi.

Namaste France: The 15-month long Indian cultural festival - “Namaste France" was held from 14 April, 2010 to 28 June, 2011. It was successful in terms of putting India on the cultural radar of France. ‘Namaste France’ was a comprehensive presentation of Indian culture including art, music, dance, fashion, tourism, films, and literature as also business and education in both its traditional and contemporary forms.The Namaste France Festival was organized in response to ‘Bonjour India’ a similar French cultural festival, organized by the French Embassy in India in 2009-2010.

Louvre Museum,Paris
During the visit of Hon’ble Minister of Culture, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Ms. Kumari Selja to Paris to inaugurate the exhibition ‘The Last Harvest – Paintings of Tagore’ at the prestigious Petit Palais museum from 26 January to March 11, 2012, a Declaration of Intent was signed with her French counterpart for further reinforcing cultural cooperation on 26th January 2012. On the same day, a MOU was signed between the Ministry of Culture of India and the Louvre Museum with the aim of establishing an active partnership in the area of exchange of competencies and expertise, particularly in the field of museology, temporary exhibitions and other cultural events.

The 2012 Cannes Film Festival was important for India. For the first time, four Indian films were selected for screening in different categories of the festival namely “Miss Lovely”, “Kalpana”, “Peddlers” and “Gangs of Wasseypur”. India is going to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema in 2013. The Cannes Festival (15-26 May, 2013), the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema (Festival international des cinémas d'Asie) from 5-12 February, 2013, and the 35th International Short Film Festival of Clermont-Ferrand (1-9 February, 2013) have confirmed India as a ‘Country of Honour’ in 2013 to celebrate the Centenary of the Indian Film Industry.

Educational and Technical Cooperation:

The bilateral educational cooperation between India and France has grown over the last few years. Around 300 MoUs have been signed between Indian and French universities and private institutions. The number of Indian students studying in France in various fields has increased over the years. For the academic year 2011-2012, 2550 Indian students went to France.

Mont Saint Michel
The framework for bilateral educational cooperation is provided by the Educational Exchange Programme (EEP), which includes mutual recognition of degrees, bolstering the research programme and increasing student-scholar research mobility through a flexible visa regime was signed in 2007 by Joint Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Secretary, Cooperation and Culture, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). 

A Joint Working Group has also been set up under the EEP.One of the most important initiatives in the field of education has been the cooperation on the new IIT in Rajasthan, following a joint declaration in 2008. A Letter of Intent (LOI) has been signed in 2012.

The Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA) is the nodal framework for promoting bilateral scientific cooperation in fundamental and applied research, frontier technologies and exchange of scientists and post doctoral researchers. The office of CEFIPRA has been established in Delhi and the centre is currently funded through an annual corpus of € 3 million with India and France equally contributing € 1.5 million each. CEFIPRA completes 25 years in 2012. The 25th Anniversary Celebrations of CEFIPRA were formally launched in a programme organized in New Delhi on 6 March 2012. As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, a number of programmes have been envisaged; these include holding of seminars, organizing science quiz in schools and screening of documentary films.

The French authorities have provided land for extending the Maison de l‘Inde, which will contribute to augmenting accommodation facilities for Indian students in France.

Indian Community in France:

The Indian community including NRIs in France is estimated to be around 70,000, largely originating from Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandranagar. There are also large communities of PIOs in the Reunion Island (about 230,000), Guadeloupe (about 57000), Martinique (about 5000) and St. Martin (about 3600-French and Dutch sides), the overseas territories/departments of France.
On 14th Feb 2013, Mr. Hollande, accompanied by five ministers including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and 60 business leaders, has arrived in New Delhi to held the talks with the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and team. Topping Mr. Hollande’s agenda is the sale of 126 Rafale jets to the Indian Air Force in a deal estimated at over 10 billion dollars by the Indian media.

New Delhi and Paris are also going to discuss a pact for supplying six reactors for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in the western state of Maharashtra. Both countries were reportedly expected to sign a slew of pacts on research and development, transport, education and culture but this was not officially confirmed. India and France would also look at enhancing their commercial ties and boost trade from 12 billion dollars in 2011. Mr. Hollande was due to conclude his two-day visit Friday with a trip to the financial hub of Mumbai where he was to participate in a business summit.

France and India have similar aspirations because they share the same ideals, the same values and the same vision of the world. That’s why they are true partners. Count on the trade agreements or visits made between India and France in the recent past, these growing bilateral trade could open real floodgates of opportunities for both the sides in the coming years. There is room and desire for a deepening of relations in important sectors-such as defence, energy, nuclear technology, investment and education/cultural connections. Additionally, the nations have a long track record of positive and mutually beneficial interactions to look back on, interactions that will only deepen moving forward.

How do you see Indo-French Bilateral Relationship?How it can be strengthened more?

How a strong Indo-French Bilateral Relationship is very much needed and important for both countries and the rest of the world?



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