India-France Relations | UPSC Notes

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India-France Relations | UPSC Notes

• India and France have always had a close and friendly friendship.

• The’strategic relationship’ between New Delhi and Paris began in 1998. Since then, there has been a lot of working together in areas like security, fighting terrorism, nuclear energy, and space.

• France was the first country that India signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal with.

After the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave India a waiver, peaceful nuclear cooperation between India and the rest of the world could start up again.

• There is also growing and wide-ranging cooperation in other areas, such as trade and business, culture, science and technology, and education.

• France has always backed India’s growing role on the world stage, including its permanent position on the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

• France was one of the first countries in the West to end the ban on arms that India and Pakistan were under during the 1965 war. During the 1971 war, France was one of the few Western countries that agreed with India that the refugee situation on its border with Bangladesh was a real problem.

• Perhaps most importantly, after India’s nuclear tests in 1998, France refused to put sanctions on India and openly opposed U.S. sanctions.

India-France Relations | UPSC Notes


• India and France both respect freedom of the individual, human rights, the rule of law, and the rule of law itself.

independence and freedom to make decisions. By making a strategic partnership in 1998 and a strategic dialogue the next year, the two countries were able to improve their ties with each other.

• As Strategic Partners, the two countries have similar ideas about important regional and global problems and continue to talk to each other about strategic and security issues that are important to both of them.

• France has said that it backs India’s bid to join the UN Security Council as a regular member. France and India have agreed to keep working together to get India to join the multilateral export control regimes. This is to help improve global nonproliferation and export control regimes so that they are more effective.

• France and India are in favour of talks about the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

Shannon mandate, which is still a key part of making progress in the Conference on Disarmament on this problem.

• On January 26, 2016, the French President was the most important guest at the Republic Day parade. From March 10–12, 2018, President Emmanuel Macron went to India for a State Visit. During this time, fourteen agreements between governments were made. On March 11, 2018, the Founding Summit of the International Solar Alliance was held in New Delhi. The two leaders were both in charge.

Institutional Dialogue

• Institutions in India and France talk to each other often. National Security Advisors from both India and France meet to talk about the India-France Strategic Dialogue.

• The Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism, Cyber Dialogue, Track 1.5 Dialogue, and the Strategy and Policy Planning Division of the French Ministry, called CAPS, and the Centre for International Studies and Research, or CERI in French, are the other active mechanisms.

• In 2018, both countries signed a bilateral deal called “Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified or Protected Information.”

They also released a “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” to keep international sea lanes safe, fight maritime terrorism and piracy, and raise knowledge of the maritime domain.

India and France also signed a “Agreement for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces” (Agreement for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces) to give their armed forces access to each other’s bases and provide logistical support.


• As part of the Indo-French Defence Cooperation Agreement, regular meetings are held to talk about working together in the business world and trading services.

• In addition to staff-level talks, the two countries have a High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC) that meets once a year with the Defence Secretary and the French Director General of the Directorate of International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS).

• Joint drills like Shakti (Joint Army Exercise), Varuna (Joint Naval Exercise), and Garuda (Indo French Air Force Exercise) help the Defence work together better.

• On September 23, 2016, in New Delhi, India signed a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale jets from M/s Dassault Aviation.

• Indian Ocean Region: The “White Shipping Agreement” between France and India will let them share details about maritime traffic and make more people aware of the maritime domain, especially in the Indian Ocean. France is a partner that India wants to work with in the Indian Ocean region because it has military bases in Djibouti, the Reunion islands, and the UAE.

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• The Agreement for the Provision of Reciprocal Logistics Support between the Armed Forces, which was signed in March 2018, gives the armed forces of each country access to the resources of the other country’s armed forces. This is called “reciprocal logistics support.” This will help India extend its reach and power, especially in the western Indian Ocean, where it has active naval bases.

• France’s defence industry and the “Make in India” programme work together in the defence field.

• Advanced military tools and nuclear technology will be a big part of India’s plan to buy more kinds of weapons.

• Under Project 75, the Indian Navy and the French naval company DONS are working together to make six Scorpene class submarines.

• Stopping terrorism: Since the 2008 strikes in Mumbai, France and India have worked together more on this issue. The killings in France in 2015 and 2016 were a new push. France and India have set up a complex network for their intelligence and security forces to share information and work together.

• Terrorist Financing: In March 2018, India and France signed a deal to stop the use of illegal drugs and other mind-altering substances. This will make it hard for terrorists to pay for their activities.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation

• On September 30, 2008, India and France signed an important agreement called the Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation. This set the rules for working together in this field.

• France has agreed that India needs a guarantee of fuel supply for the life of the plants and has reaffirmed its commitment, as stated in the 2008 bilateral Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) on nuclear cooperation, to give India reliable, uninterrupted, and continuous access to nuclear fuel supply for the life of the plants.

• France and India made a plan for working together to speed up talks about the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in 2016. In March 2018, these talks came to an end when the Industrial Way Forward Agreement for the Implementation of Six Nuclear Power Reactor Units at Jaitapur was signed by NPCIL and EDF. Under the “Make in India” initiative, the building of six nuclear power plants at Jaitapur will make it easier and cheaper to make big and important parts in India.

Space and Technology

• France and India see each other as important partners in space science and related fields.

• The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) have worked together for about 50 years and have a long history of partnership. Indian Geo-Stationary satellites have mostly been launched by Arianespace, which is based in France.

• France helped India set up the Sriharikota launch site. After that, France worked with India to build liquid engines and host payloads.

• Since 1993, ISRO and CNES (the French National Space Agency) have had a broad understanding that allows them to work together on projects like Megha-Tropiques, SARAL, and TRISHNA.

These missions would help a lot with keeping an eye on the environment, weather, water supplies, and coastal zones. They would also make the relationship between the two countries even stronger.

• India and France released a “Joint Vision for Space Cooperation” in 2018, which says that they will work together on:

Putting space science to work for society

Taking clear pictures of Earth.

Space realm and being aware of the situation

Taking on global challenges, such as climate change, where both sides will continue to work together to watch climate on the joint missions Megha-Tropiques and Saral-Altika, the ongoing studies of the Trishna satellite for land infrared monitoring, and the Oceansat3-Argos mission.

Exploring the solar system and other places

Creating tools so that people can explore the universe

Getting Space Transportation Systems to Work Together

• France and India have signed a deal to work together on the Gaganyaan Mission.

The French space agency, CNES, will help with plans for scientific experiments and will give Indian astronauts French tools, supplies, and medical instruments to use.

• France’s help was very important for India to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), and the Australia Group (AG).

• France still backs India’s attempt to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Trade and Investment

• Trade between India and France has grown a lot in the last ten years. In the year 2017-18, it was about USD 11.42 billion. This year, the balance of trade was good for France, but it is generally good for India.

• France is one of India’s biggest foreign investors, with €5.5 billion in foreign direct investments at the end of 2018. This makes France the sixth-largest G20 investor.

France is the 9th biggest source of FDI for India right now.

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Power, hydrocarbons, telecoms, auto parts, agro-industries, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and the environment are all important to France.

• There are a lot of French companies in the Indian IT market now. Indian software companies may also want to sell their software in France.

• The main programme of Make in India is backed by the French government and business community.

• France also helps India with the Smart City Initiative and the Swaccha Bharat Campaign, which aims to clean up waste water and create renewable energy sources.

Changes in climate

• France and India are working together to protect the environment and fight climate change. In 2008, the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) began working in India with the goal of protecting global public goods.

• France and India started the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in November 2015 at COP21. Its goal is to help solar energy grow.

• The blue economy and the resilience of coastal areas are important to both France and India. The two countries want to work together more on marine scientific study and share what they know about the oceans.

Diaspora and Exchanges of Culture

• There is a large and active Indian community in France, as well as a lot of cultural, educational, and scientific exchange between the two countries. This makes it easier for people from India and France to meet each other and visit each other’s countries.

• Programmes that make it easier to get visas, like being able to get a visa in 48 hours, have helped boost tourism.

• There are about 6,000 Indian students in higher education in France. From September 15 to November 30, 2016, India held the “Namaste France” cultural festival in France. The festival featured a variety of Indian cultural performances, exhibitions, fairs, and workshops to show off Indian cultural heritage. In 2017, France held its own “Bonjour India” cultural festival in India.

• Both countries signed the “Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement,” which aims to make it easier for people to move between them.

Circular migration is short-term movement that is based on mobility and encourages people to bring their skills back to their home country.

• The “France-India Programme for the Future,” a French programme to encourage young exchanges, was also started. This will be very important for the future growth of ties between India and France.

• The creation of a Ministerial-level Joint S&T Committee would make it easier for people from both countries to work together on science, technology, and innovation projects.

How France is Important to India

• In the global world we live in now, where international situations are always changing, India needs a reliable partner like France. The friendship is important to India because France is a permanent member of the UNSC and NSG.

• Problems on a global scale

India needs France’s help if it wants to join the NSG and get a stable seat on the UNSC.

France also makes it possible for India and Europe as a whole to have better strategic ties.

France can be a good partner in the area around the Indian Ocean. It is the leader of the Indian Ocean Commission, which is an organisation that gets a lot of help for growth from the European Union.

France still has a military foothold in the Indian Ocean, with two bases on the islands of La Reunion and Mayotte.

• Climate Change

In the wake of the Paris Agreement, which was signed at the end of COP-21, France and India are now more than ever ready to work together to solve the climate problem. Clean energy, Swaccha Bharat, treating garbage, etc., all need French help with technology.

• International Solar Alliance

In 2015, India and France started the International Solar Alliance (ISA) as a side project to the COP 21.

• Terrorism

France fully backs India in its fight against terrorism and asks all countries to do the same when it comes to terrorism that starts on their land or in areas they control. Attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Saint Denis show that we need to work together more to stop terrorists.

How important India is to France

• India has become an economic magnet for all parts of the world because it has a big domestic market and the largest number of middle-income people in the world.

• India’s goals for renewable energy give French companies opportunities to spend.

• France must protect its exclusive economic zone, which covers more than 2.5 million square kilometres. km of the Indian Ocean. India’s experience with actions and tactics to fight terrorism could help France fight terrorism.

• India’s defence purchases make up a big part of France’s world arms sales, which is good news given that the European Union’s GDP growth is low.

• French companies are good at modernising transport, utilities, planning, IT and communications, building and homes, and finding ways to pay for things. French businesses could make money by investing in the Smart City Mission and the revitalization of cities.

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Challenges in Relations

• Overall, the relationship between India and France is friendly and doesn’t have any problems. But trade between India and France is not nearly as good as it could be.

• The India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is still being talked about, is very important for trade to happen. France is a powerful part of the EU, which can help both sides reach a deal.

• France’s support for the Belt and Road Initiative is very different from India’s. This is because France and India have very different strategic goals. Also, the Indo-Pacific partnership is mostly symbolic and will need to be looked at again in the coming years.

• Delays and problems with the Rafael deal are also making it hard for both countries to trust each other.

• According to reports, energy from the Jaitapur project will be more expensive than electricity from many other sources, such as solar and wind power. On top of the high costs, there have been safety issues with the design and building of several EPRs. India’s poor nuclear liability law makes these worries about safety even worse. Also, the delay in the Jaitapur project is making it hard for countries to work together in the nuclear field in the future.

Way Forward

• Getting along better on a business level is the key to making Indo-French relations stronger and more successful. In this respect, both sides need to take action.

• India should try to make it easier for businesses to do business there, as well as improve its facilities and other things.

• On the other hand, France should work to finish the India-EU FTA because it is a big EU member.

• The fact that India and France have similar ideas about how the Indo-Pacific policy should be based on openness, sovereignty, engagement, and freedom of navigation makes it possible for them to work together.

India and France have similar ideas about the Indo-Pacific, and they need to put those ideas into action by building coalitions to stop China from doing bad things and defending the ideals of multilateralism.

• The two countries must keep working together in areas like maritime domain awareness, terrorism, cybercrime, piracy, disaster aid, and the blue economy. Multilateral talks like the QUAD, ASEM, and trilateral dialogues between India, Australia, and France must also happen.

• The fast-paced growth of the industry means that cooperation needs to happen quickly in areas like data security, data localization, investing in Indian technology, and diversifying the supply chain.

In this way, India and France need to work together on international rules for digital data to make sure they are not dependent on either China or the US.

• The growing closeness between India and France needs to be taken advantage of in the coming years. This is shown by how India and France are working together on the Afghanistan terror problem and how France is becoming a mediator between the US and Iran.

• Like the ISA, France and India can lead the way in creating international projects that listen to those who are most at risk.

The ISA can move to help low-income countries by using money from other sources to fund green energy projects.

India and France can also work together to create a financial mechanism within the ISA and create action-oriented and need-based multilateral projects to fight climate change.


• Trust, respect, and teamwork have always been a part of the relationship between the two countries that wanted strategic autonomy. As strategic partners, India and France should continue to back each other on international issues in a spirit of mutual understanding and commitment.

• The possibility of even a small American pullback, the rise of China and its power projection as far away as the South Pacific, Africa, and the Mediterranean, the tightening embrace between Moscow and Beijing, the breakdown of the détente between Russia and Europe, and the turbulence in the spaces between India and France all mean that India and France need to work together and pool their resources.

• France is an important partner for India and needs to play a key role in India’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific, including keeping climate pledges, fighting threats to the global tech order, and making multilateralism stronger. France and India can take their relationship to a new level this decade by reaffirming their shared beliefs and commitments to tackling these problems.