Why would Frenchman Emmanuel Marcon have been a better choice for Indian Republic Day than Boris Johnson of the UK?

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Given the growing defense relations between India and France, would French President Emmanuel Marcon have been a better choice as the main guest of the Republic Day of India than British Prime Minister Boris Johnson? ?

According to a diplomatic source, Johnson received an invitation to the Republic Day celebrations through a phone conversation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 27.

Although officials have hinted that the British Prime Minister wants to travel to India as quickly as possible, there has so far been no official confirmation of his acceptance by the British high commission. A Zee News report, however, claimed Johnson had accepted the invitation.

India and Britain have shared a modern partnership in recent years, bound by strong historical ties. Their bilateral relationship was transformed into a strategic partnership in 2004, during which then Prime Minister David Cameron visited New Delhi three times during his first term. But then India and France became much closer and their strategic ties reached a different level after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014.

For example, Modi visited Britain in 2015 with the aim of improving their bilateral relations, followed by another trip in 2018 to attend a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government.

Compared to this, Modi has been to France four times (3 official visits), which indicates the growing proximity between New Delhi and Paris.

“Defense cooperation between the two countries is multidimensional with institutional exchanges, joint production, joint military exercises and training,” said Aparna Pande, a researcher at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. She even called France “India’s new best friend”.

India-France relations

Following the landmark $ 8.7 billion deal in which the Indian Air Force (IAF) purchases 36 Dassault Rafale jets from France, New Delhi is preparing to acquire further sub- sailors with the French shipbuilder Naval Group to strengthen its maritime security.

India, which has long had military partnerships with countries like Russia and the United States, now considers France its essential ally, thanks to the Rafale agreement

As the country is stuck in a months-long border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, the Rafale multi-role delta-winged and twin-engine jets of 4 generations and above are likely to provide much-needed air superiority over its rival.

According to Laxman Behera, defense expert at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, the French Rafales are a game-changer in India.

“It (Rafale) is one of the best fighter jets available on the world market. It is much more advanced and deadly than the current hunters available in China. It is certainly a boost to India’s defense preparation. The timing of the arrival of the jets is perfect.«

India will have unparalleled air power in the region when it has the 36 Rafales. It will be a game changer for India, he added. So far, the country has received five Rafale planes from France.

India has also stepped up naval readiness to secure its waters as part of Beijing’s expansionist approach to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean region (IOR).

According to a report by Nikkei Asia, Paris defense contractor Naval Group will make an offer for a P75I-class submarine to the Indian Navy.

The deal, which is expected to be worth the exorbitant sum of 5.6 billion dollars, would be in line with India’s “Make in India” initiative.

As part of the deal, the tender will seek to build approximately six stealth submarines with air independent propulsion technology that would have a longer submerged range than submarines already owned by the Indian Navy.

Underlining the growing ties between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi said during his visit to Paris in 2019,

“India and France enjoy excellent bilateral relations, which are reinforced by a common vision of cooperation to further strengthen the peace and prosperity of our two countries and the world in general.”

Under an agreement signed between Modi and Macron in 2018, the navies of the two countries have the right to use the naval bases of the other – Indian warships will be allowed to use the French bases in the Indian oceans and South Pacific.

In addition to defense, France has also proposed collaboration in the field of space research. The European nation recently announced a partnership with India for ISRO’s Venus mission, scheduled for 2025.

In a first, a French payload will be transported on an Indian space exploration mission. The French space agency, the Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), said it “will coordinate and prepare the French contribution” to the mission.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, in an article for The Diplomat, wrote that the mission became a reality thanks to the two countries’ trust in each other. He argued that this was made possible by the “comfort of India and, in particular, of ISRO in doing business with France”.

UK-India Ties

While it has been established that France is a more important defense partner for India, this is not the case for the United Kingdom.

Aaditya Dave wrote / in an article for the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank, claiming that “the relatively limited ties between the UK and India in defense equipment” are due to the preference of New Delhi for government-to-government (G2G) agreements. He said that while the UK is generally not involved in such arrangements, countries like France and Russia have accepted this model.

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, France is currently India’s third-largest arms supplier – significant progress compared to the eighth position it occupied during the 2010 period. 2014 – behind Russia and Israel.

The two countries have taken giant steps to strengthen their ties not only in defense cooperation, but also by supporting each other, as shown by India in solidarity with France by condemning the recent attacks in Paris. for the publication of controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Likewise, France supports India’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

In light of these developments, it can be argued that Marcon would have been a better choice as the main guest of the Republic Day of India than Johnson.

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