Home International Relations India-France Relations When Namaste meets Bonjour

India-France Relations When Namaste meets Bonjour

India-France Relations When Namaste meets Bonjour

India-France Relations When Namaste meets Bonjour


Bestower of “liberty, equality and fraternity” to the world, the French Republic is a transcontinental sovereign state comprising territories in Western Europe and several other areas overseas, On the other hand is – one of the oldest surviving civilizations, the most populous democracy and the third largest economy of the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Both countries share cordial relations for decades.

Strategic Partnership

From India’s strategic point of view, Indo-French strategic partnership has been significant achievement. According to a report (2011) published by Foundation of National Security Research – France is the third most important strategic partner after Russia and the US. If we look at the French voting pattern in the UN Security Council, France on many occasions has been supportive of India’s interests. This can be more attributed to France having an autonomous foreign policy historically differentiating it form the US influence dissimilar to other European powers.

France was one of the few countries that didn’t condemn India’s nuclear test back in 1998 and supported India’s bid for permanent membership of Security Council. Thus, India has endeared the country as all weather friend . France has also forwarded and exerted its influence on Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to include India. Despite India being a non-signatory of NPT and CTBT, France signed an agreement with it in 2008 to supply nuclear reactors.

Even during the period of Cold War in the 1970s, when West lead by the US saw India’s Non-Aligned Movement with distrust, New Delhi and Paris shared a comparatively cordial relationship.

France was also one of the few western countries to lift the arm embargo on India after Indo-Pak war in 1965. Similarly, during the Bangladesh liberation war with Pakistan, on the legitimacy of India’s concern over the refugee crisis in border regions with Bangladesh. And, recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France has added a considerable amount of depth in the bilateral relations.

Indian Ocean and Exclusive Economic Zone

France doesn’t get much attention in terms of its presence and influence in Indian Ocean. However, its medium size military presence but a vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and considerable influence in South West of Indian Ocean provide enough substance for New Delhi to keep the strategic bonding strong. La Reunion and Mayotte situated in the Indian Ocean have one million French citizens and 2.6 million square kilometer EEZ.

The French understanding of India’s value in Indian Ocean can be seen through regular Varuna naval exercise, sale of scorpene class submarines and recently signed Rafale deal – would surely increase India’s maritime strike role.
Despite both nations enjoying a sound strategic relationship, there is room for extra efforts to be put in business and trade sectors leading to a broader underpinning of bi-lateral relations.

By Nachiket Nishant