H C Singh

French President Sarkozy’s visit to India a landmark in Indo-French Relations

It is the first time that a President of France has paid a visit to India which is significant, if not more, than visits by American President Obama or any other foreign Head of State to India in recent times. Despite unprecedented crises in Parliament of India, during his visit French President got warm welcome by both the PM of India as well as Chairperson of ruling UPA and opposition leader in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, who was amongst the few ministers invited to dinner hosted by PM Manmohan Singh. Media gave befitting coverage for all the days when French President with his wife was in India. It was really a new era in Indo-French friendship as well as economic and even for stronger defense ties. In many other fields too like use of solar energy for which French firms have promised big investments. Indo- French relations in trade and cooperation in food processing will henceforth be noteworthy. Indian people will anxiously wait to see remarkable cooperation in trade and increase in visit of students between India and France, as never before. So far India had economic and social relations with USA and UK; and USSR before its breakup.

Latest survey indicates that fiscal position of USA is worse than that of Europe despite recession all over the Europe and USA for the last two years. It is also known that in Europe Spain and Italy are in bad shape so far as their economies are concerned. France, Germany, UK and Baltic state are reasonably better off and are now in a position to improve. That is the reason that President Sarkozy of France is so confident that he has agreed to help India in overcoming certain economic and social problems. Here are some details of the agreements between French President and Indian PM.

India has been purchasing from France, since 1985, Mirage aero planes. During Kargil war in 1999, Indian Air Force used these French planes to quell Pakistani aggression. India was then able to drop laser guided bombs as well as conventional bombs. Thus two mirage squadrons flew more than 500 sorties in about 200 strikes mission during this limited war. After crushing defeat of Pakistan by India in 1975 war Pakistan appeared to be preparing for some sort of revenge. So India was in hurry to equip its air squadrons. India wanted to purchase fighter aircrafts from France, which were small and also known to be capable of repeated sorties. India therefore purchased 76 single seater and 4 double seater aircraft from France. By 1998 India France strategic defense partnership came into existence. As India has a vast coast, it’s thinking of purchasing submarines from France to guard its coast effectively.

There is equally significant cooperation between India and France in the sphere of agriculture. France is prepared to double the exchange of agriculture and food products after Sarkozi’s recent visit. This will give boost to Indian agriculture as well as food processing techniques France evidently has better techniques and experience. In this connection it will not be out of place to assert that India had pledged good relations with USA, since 1962 war with China, but neither USA nor UK or any other European Country offered defense equipments and fighter planes to India. Prior to dismemberment of USSR it was USSR that supplied India MIG aero planes and aircrafts which India was not able to use in Kargil war against Pakistan, because it was not an all out war. USSR assistance and cooperation in many fields continued up to 1964 as our first PM had thought of developing India on USSR model with some limitations as USSR was a communist dictatorship while India was a democratic state. So Pandit Nehru found the middle path of Socialist pattern of society which miserably failed. It was only thereafter that India started improving economic and defense cooperation with other countries including France.

As outlined in brief above France helped India in defense the most when India needed the most in Kargil limited war. Naturally India welcomed the most President Sarkozy’s visit in December 2010. Many agreements and MOU’s have been signed between President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It is hoped that these will be implemented by India and France without any reservations. Thus we wish and hope there will be, in particular, much increase in trade in the field of agriculture and food as never before besides more cooperation in defense and even in nuclear energy by forging stronger ties. France is celebrating ‘Year of India’ in its resort town Saint Tropez, during 2012. So far no Asian, European or American country has thought of celebrating ‘Year of India’.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | India, Political Commentary | , , , , , | 2 Comments