France and India have had a long history which dates back to the late 1600s when the French invaded India. French had setup the French East India company or Francaise des Indes orientals and slowly reaching Masulipatnam (present day Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh). Soon the French anchored at Pondicherry, their first colony with Administrative headquarters. Apart from Pondicherry they had establishments in Orissa, Malabar Coast, Bengal and Gujarat. Even today if you visit the city of Pondicherry, the impact of the French Administration is still very visible. Pondicherry is also one of the favorite destinations for the French tourists. And that has led to a great impactful relations between the two nations.
A pact was signed between the nations in 1998 wherein both the countries would exchange strategic information in key areas like Defence, Nuclear Energy and Space. Not only this but the heads of the two states have made quite a few visits that have further strengthened the relations between the nations. On the Defence front the two countries have been regularly taking part in joint exercises apart from France providing a major arms and ammunition support to the Indian Military. There are also a lot of exchanges on the Trade front with France having a lot of direct Investments in India and vice versa. Companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro have played a key role by setting up offices in France. Indian aviation sector too heavily relies on France for the supply of aircrafts. Major India carriers including Indigo, Air India, Jet Airways have a large fleet of aircrafts by AirBus. Apart from this, France has created an impact in the education sector as well by providing great student exchange programs and higher studies option for many Indian students.
And with the Republic Day around the corner, this is going to improve further. After Barack Obama as the Chief Guest last year, this time its the French head Francois Hollande who will be over seeing the Republic Day celebrations. The French President landed in India in the wee hours of 23rd January in Chandigarh where he was received by Narendra Modi himself. The duo then visited the Capitol complexe and later the Rock Gardens. The French President was later given a customary welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan after which he visited the Rajghat before formally being welcomed by Narendra Modi at the Hyderabad House.
It’s not the first time the two nations have had the respective state heads attending important functions, in the past too,the leaders of both the nations were part of important celebrations. Let’s look into the past to explore India’s French Connection.
- Way back in 1998, the then French President, Jacques Chirac visited India and that was when the first ever strategic partnership signed by India.
- Then in 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations at time when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister.
- The following year in 2009, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited France to attend the Bastille Day parade. This was also the first time when the troops from the three services – Army ,Navy and the Air-force – opened the Bastille Day parade with the Indian Military band playing in the background.
So the relations between the two countries have been great which has had huge impact on the economies of both the nations. A lot of cultural exchanges are already happening, thanks to the Cannes Film festival that has recognized many Bollywood movies. Apart from this cultural exchange programs like Bonjour India and Namaste France should be held annually to strengthen the relations between the countries. In the end, it’s great to have healthy relations with one of the powerful nations in the world.
Vive La France !
Jai Hind !