Macron’s India visit: India and France adopted a defence production roadmap during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron in Jaipur on Thursday that would provide for the co-development and co-production of crucial military hardware and facilitate technology collaboration in a range of areas including space, land warfare, cyberspace and artificial intelligence, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday. Both sides also agreed upon collaborating on science and technology, healthcare, education, research and more.
During a special press briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the focus of defence cooperation between India and France aims to identify opportunities for partnership in the defence industrial sector that prioritise co-designing, co-development, co-production and building supply chains to fulfill the requirements of both countries and also in security partnership with other countries.
“These are the roadmaps which have been agreed upon. Roadmap on the India-France Defence Industrial Roadmap. An agreement on Defence space partnership. An MoU between New Space India Limited (NSIL) and Arianespace with regard to satellite launches. An industrial partnership between Tata and Airbus helicopters for the production of H125 helicopters with a significant indigenous and localization component,” he said.
Both sides also signed an agreement between the departments of science of technology, healthcare cooperation, education, training and research. This would include the space of digital health and the use of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector. “It’s been agreed that the year 2026 will be celebrated as the India-France year of innovation,” Kwatra added.
On a possible deal between French engine maker and India Shakti jet engines, Jawed Ashraf, India’s Ambassador to France said it was under negotiations as the issue was over a set of specifications that would comply with India’s future fighter jet requirements. “Safran is fully willing to do it with 100 per cent transfer of technology, 100 per cent transfer of technology in design development, certification, production and so on and so forth. But it’s obviously a very complex subject, and it has to fit in with the overall future requirements. So these discussions will continue to take place, and that’s also part of the defence industry roadmap,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kwatra announced that the Indian consulate in the southern city of Marseille in France and the French bureau in Hyderabad are ready to be operational. The two sides will set up a a solar academy in Senegal under the Star-C programme of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was created by India and France in 2015.
Modi-Macron talks on global issues
Macron was invited as the Chief Guest for India’s 75th Republic day celebrations in the national capital on Friday. He arrived in Jaipur yesterday and visited iconic locations like Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Macron held a mega roadshow with PM Modi in the evening before holding bilateral talks in Jaipur.
“The two leaders, when they met, they discussed not just areas of priority and focus in our bilateral partnership, but also focused quite a lot on what’s happening in different parts of the world. Naturally, the ongoing conflict in Gaza and its various dimensions, the terror dimension, the humanitarian dimension, the civil disruption dimension, all those things came up for discussion and both leaders shared their perspectives,” said the Foreign Secretary on Friday.
“With regard to developments in the Red Sea. Naturally, the disruptions, the potential disruption and the actual things happening in the maritime domain there, which is causing disruption to commercial shipping, indeed is a matter of serious concern and both leaders focused on it,” he added.
Macron expresses thanks to India
Macron arrived in Delhi last night to attend the Republic Day Parade today. He accompanied President Droupadi Murmu as they arrived at Kartavya Path in the ‘Traditional Buggy’, a practice which made a comeback after a gap of 40 years. Macron and President Murmu were escorted by her bodyguard – Rashtrapati ke Angrakshak’ and were received by PM Modi.
A 95-member marching contingent and a 33-member band contingent from France will take part in the parade. Two Rafale fighters and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French Air Force will also feature in the celebrations. There are six Indians in the French team – CCH Sujan Pathak (Chief corporal), CPL Dipak Arya (Corporal), CPL Parbin Tandan (Corporal), Gurvachan Singh (First Class Legionnaire), Aniket Ghartimagar (First Class Legionnaire) and Vikas Djeassegar (First Class Legionnaire).
Set up in 1831, the French Foreign Legion is an elite military corps open to foreigners to serve in the French Army with certain conditions. At present, it has almost 9,500 officers and legionnaires, comprising around 140 nationalities from all over the world.
“A great honour for France. Thank you, India,” posted Macron on X as Kartavya Path witnessed a march past by a combined band and marching contingent of the French Armed Forces.
Notably, this is the sixth time a French leader will be the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations here in the national capital. Before Macron, former French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac was the Chief guest on India’s Republic Day celebrations in 1976 and 1998, as were former Presidents Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Francois Hollande in the years 1980, 2008 and 2016, respectively.
(with inputs from agencies)