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  Opinion   Edit  16 Jul 2023  AA Edit | France's red carpet shows depth of India relationship

AA Edit | France's red carpet shows depth of India relationship

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 17, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Jul 17, 2023, 12:05 am IST

India and France are promising to move forward in myriad fields

 Paris: Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifts Sandalwood Sitar to the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2023. (PTI Photo)
  Paris: Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifts Sandalwood Sitar to the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2023. (PTI Photo)

The French do spectacle well, more so when it comes to Bastille Day celebrations to mark their national day. The frisson emanating from the festive reception laid out for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the lilting tunes of “Saare Jahan Se Accha” echoing around the mighty military parade on the Champs-Elysee, amply conveyed what the French wished to say on a special relationship that has stood the test of time.

There is a reason why, as India’s representative, Prime Minister Modi is being made to feel very special, be it in state visits to Washington or Paris. As the world’s largest importer of arms, from armaments and fighter jets to submarines, India is a customer to be wooed, feted and felicitated. While the country has been the biggest arms buyer since 2013, India accounted for about 11 per cent of global arms import by governments in the last four years.

So splendidly did the French put on their show of bonhomie for India that much of the undercurrents were submerged with the warmth of the ties ruling over the special Parisian weekend. In the pomp and pageantry of the parade was forgotten the fact that France’s President Emmanuel Macron was booed soundly when he arrived for the ceremony.

Feelings are still running high in France after an immigrant of African descent was shot and killed by the police for trying to drive past a traffic stop for checking and the riots that followed have barely subsided.

India had also to ward off criticism over the Manipur situation, which the European Parliament had taken up, coincidentally in a Paris meeting. The forum may be just another talk shop which is owed no explanation, save that India had to try and understand for its own sake why tribes are fighting each other in the northeastern state and act to ameliorate. Are we a democracy so weighed down by the vote as to compulsorily weaponise reservations and quotas and play one community against the other?

Deals worth nearly 10 billion Euro to buy Rafales, and to buy as well as build Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy have taken substantial shape on the anvil and should be finalised soon enough once the nitty gritty is sorted out.

All the shopping that India did in the United States and in France recently are aimed at strategically lessening dependence on Russia, not as a time-tested ally but as a major defence supplier. It is all too clear that modernisation, even at a stiff cost, must be undertaken if the Indian armed forces are not to feel the burden of ageing equipment and outdated technology in use by a Russia-dependent defence force.

There are also the natural ties that bind democracies in the most modern age with a long history to them and India and France are promising to move forward in myriad fields, from space to the sea as it were, with comprehensive cooperation being charted in a road map.

The gain in stature India has achieved in the economic sphere is reflected in all its diplomatic dealings, too. Its virtually non-aligned openness to multilateralism hasn’t suffered any, as was made evident in Mr Modi stopping in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi where strategic currency realignment away from the dollar could be talked about without necessarily hurting the newfound depth in India-US ties. Regardless of the internal faults that serve to remind us that perfection is impossible, India is on a good wicket in the international sphere.

Tags: prime minister narendra modi, emmanuel macron, abu dhabi