Modi showcases India’s soft power in Paris

India’s soft power glowed on a radiant spring morning in Paris. Yoga, sustainable development, cultural connections, the transformative power of education and the spirituality of Sri Aurobindo vied for the attention of a mixed audience of the French and the Indian community as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at the UNESCO headquarters.

Amid chants of Modi, Har Har Mahadev and Vande Matram, the Indian leader, dressed nattily in bandgala suit, walked inside the UNESCO headquarters and unveiled his vision of an empowered India animated by universal education, religious pluralism, modern technology and harmony of man with nature.

He began his visit April 10 to the UNESCO headquarters by paying homage to the statue of Shri Aurobindo, India’s sage-philosopher-poet, and lauded his “belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside.”

“There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on national freedom, diversity of civilizations and autonomy of culture,” Mr Modi said.

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Rafale deal may get push during Modi visit: India’s ex-envoy

India and France forged strategic partnership in 1998, which has steadily expanded to include a host of new areas. Defence cooperation forms the bedrock of this vital relationship. In this interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network (, Mr Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to France, speaks about the prospects of the mammoth Rafale deal, possibilities of bilateral cooperation in the crucial Indian Ocean region and how the burgeoning strategic ties are complemented by cultural bonding.
(Excerpts from the interview)
Q) France is betting big on the Rafale deal. Do you see a closure of this deal in the near future do you think that the Modi-Hollande meeting will give the political push for the closure of the deal?
A) I am quite sure the prime minister’s meeting in Paris with the French president will give the push. These negotiations have been going on for sometime; understandably these are some complex negotiations and we are also moving into new areas on life cycle costing and so on, which are a new experience for us. And there can’t be a bigger political push than a summit-level meeting between the prime minister and the president.

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India & France: Spring Time, New Horizons

It’s spring time in Paris, and there is a new spring, bounce and vitality in India-France relations. Paris in April looks like the heaven on earth, and is the first stop in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden trip to Europe and the continent’s powerful economy. France is India’s key strategic partner in the European continent, and the strategic partnership the two countries forged in 1998 have steadily scaled new frontiers.

When Prime Minister Modi sits down for talks with the French president in Paris April 10, there will be a lot on the table besides delicious gourmet food for which the French are famous. The menu will be appetising and varied – trade and investment, nuclear energy, science and technology, defence deals and space will vie for the leaders’ mind space as they map out an ambitious agenda to upscale India-France relations across the spectrum.

Economic relations are on an upward trajectory, with bilateral trade exceeding $7 billion. French companies are betting on India’s growth prospects, and plan to put in more money into Asia’s third largest economy and one of the world’s fastest growing companies. French investments in India have already exceeded around $10 billion. And more than 700 French companies are doing thriving business in India, creating jobs and setting new benchmarks in innovation.

Paris in April looks a perfect place and time to flower new dreams for this crucial strategic partnership, and map out fresh avenues for the evolving and dynamic India-France relations.

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Modi’s Europe yatra: Cruise with Hollande, cleaning up Ganga via Rhine

It promises to be a memorable evening in Paris, redolent of the famous Bollywood number of the late 1960s. When India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande go on a boat ride on the shimmering moon-lit Seine river next week, expect sparks to fly, and illuminate the multi-hued tapestry of India-France relations. The evening boat ride will be a time to do some small talk, think big, and map out an ambitious trajectory for one of India’s most crucial strategic partnerships in the European continent.
The planned Modi-Hollande boat cruise shows how the Indian diplomacy has changed in its tone, texture and atmospherics since Mr Modi took charge of the world’s most populous democracy and Asia’s third largest economy, nearly a year ago. In the staid and stuffy world of diplomacy, it has taken Modi, a former tea-seller, to reinvent the rules of the game and understand the value of spectacle and gestures in the media-saturated landscape.
From Make in India to Skill India and Clean Ganga, Prime Minister Modi will be looking to rope in two of Europe’s most powerful economies and influential players, for the overarching project of India’s economic resurgence. If it takes a boat ride with the French president and serenading the India Story with the German chancellor, so be it.

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