From Rafale & nuclear energy to commerce & culture, India-France ties ride high

PARIS: The radiant smiles said it all: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande sported ‘Paris in April’ radiance as they unveiled 17-odd pacts in areas ranging from civil nuclear energy, defence and space to smart cities, business, tourism and the promotion of cultural heritage.
Celebrating this new spring in the multi-hued India-France relations, the two leaders went on a boat ride on the lovely Seine caressed by the gently fading sun. It was a time for bonding, camaraderie, small talk and big dreams.
The new Rafale deal was easily the show-stealer as Mr Modi announced at a joint press conference on April 10 with the French president that India will buy 26 Rafale jets from France in fly-away condition, ending months of “deal or no deal” speculation that has stalked this multi-billion dollar plan. The announcement triggered a wave of jubilation among the top French leadership, with Mr Hollande profusely thanking the Indian prime minister for his decision to do the 36-jet deal in an inter-governmental agreement.
Mr Modi, too, has many reasons to be pleased at the big thumps-up he got from the French leadership and the elite French business community for his Make in India campaign. The business confidence in the India Story was reflected in the two round tables Mr Modi addressed on infrastructure and defence with the crème de la crème of French corporate world present at the interactive meetings. The Make in India commitment was reflected in a pact on forging cooperation between Indian and French railways for semi-high speed rail link and station renovation and pledges by French defence majors to undertake co-development of high-value weaponry.
Underscoring a striking convergence of interests on strategic issues, the leaders of India and France spoke about building closer cooperation in a host of cross-cutting areas, including terrorism, cyber security and maritime security.

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