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France, India must deepen engagement

Published : Jan 27, 2016, 5:46 am IST
Updated : Jan 27, 2016, 5:46 am IST

Along with French President Francois Hollande, who was the Republic Day guest this year, came a contingent of French infantry to march on Rajpath as part of the famous Indian parade in which Indian ar

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 27TESLA2.jpg

Along with French President Francois Hollande, who was the Republic Day guest this year, came a contingent of French infantry to march on Rajpath as part of the famous Indian parade in which Indian armed forces do the star turn. This is the first time the soldiers of any country have participated in the R-Day march-past.

Does the fact that France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council enhance the value of its soldiers’ participation in an event that marks the founding of the Indian Republic Or, is all this just cool optics

We can judge that better depending on how the India-France agreement on counter-terrorism, one among the 14 signed between the two sides in the wake of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the French President in Chandigarh, where Mr Hollande landed, and New Delhi, takes shape.

France, like the US did a few days before it, took a serious view of the terrorist attack on Pathankot emanating from Pakistan, and comparisons were made between this terrorist strike and the one on Paris last November. But how it partners India, internationally, to coordinate efforts to dismantle the financial resources, and the recruitment and training processes of the terrorists, will be watched with considerable interest.

For instance, can Paris and New Delhi work together to persuade the UN to adopt the Convention on Terrorism that will help to make the fight against international terrorism easier when the US has reservations on the definition of terrorism

With the rise in India’s international status following a decade and a half of rapid economic expansion and opening up to the world, the advances in Indian science and technology, and a better appreciation of the terrorist menace worldwide with the US and France being made targets of terrorism (as India has been for three and a half decades), Western powers in particular have now come to regard India as more of a democracy than before. This was not the case in the Cold War years when India was seen as a political partner of the Soviet Union.

In the wake of these developments have followed growing links with India in the military field, as well as in the area of nuclear power and space exploration, besides a thorough-going involvement with India in economy, finance and commerce and industry, as well as the full developmental spectrum.

This is confirmed by the nature of the agreements signed during Mr Hollande’s visit. While a deal with the purchase of the French-made Rafale medium, multi-role fighter aircraft in flyaway condition could not be clinched on account of continuing price negotiations, this is now deemed a mere formality. In the final analysis, both sides must make the effort to deepen their political collaboration and understanding.