The successful visit of French President Mr Emmanuel Macron to India enhanced the Indo-French engagement over a range of areas from clean energy, education, trade, space, defence ties to maritime cooperation and geopolitics.
Four Day visit in India (9-12 March 2018) - The French President had arrived India on 9th March 2018. The aim of the visit was to strengthen the bilateral economic, political, and strategic dimension of engagement
The French President was accompanied by his wife - the First Lady of France Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businesspeople, and top officials.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last visited France in June 2017, immediately after President Macron was elected President.
On the sidelines of French President visit in India key 14 agreements was signed between the two nations.
1. Agreement on Reduction of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs
- Aim - Prevention of the illicit consumption of, and reduction of illicit traffic, in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors and related offences through exchange of information, expertise and capacity building.
2. Agreement on migration and Mobility Partnership
- Aim - To foster mobility of students, academics, researchers and skilled professionals.
3. Agreement to facilitate mutual recognition of academic qualifications
- Aim - To encourage mobility of students from both the countries by facilitating possibilities for them to continue their studies in the other country and would also promote excellence in higher education.
4. Technical Co-operation in the field of Railways
- Aim – To build upon and deepen the mutual cooperation and focus on priority areas of high speed and semi-high-speed rail; station renovation modernisation of current operations and infrastructure; and suburban trains.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Ministry of Railways and SNCF Mobilities, France, on technical cooperation.
- SNCF is already working with railways on India's first semi-high-speed rail project between Delhi and Chandigarh which aims to bring down the travel time between the two cities to two hours.
5. Creation of a permanent Indo-French Railways Forum
- Aim – A Letter of Intent was signed between both the sides to enhance the already existing cooperation by creating an Indo-French Permanent Railway Forum.
6. Provision of reciprocal logistics support between Armed Forces
- Aim – To facilitate the reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies and Services between the Armed Forces of the two countries during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts etc.
7. Cooperation in the field of Environment
- Aim - To establish a basis for an exchange of information between the Governments and technical experts of the two countries in the field of environment and climate change.
8. Cooperation in the field of Sustainable Urban Development
- Aim – To exchange information on smart city development, development of urban mass transportation systems, urban settlements and utilities etc.
9. Exchange and reciprocal protection of classified or protected information
- Aim - This Agreement defines the common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information.
10. Co-operation in the field of Space Research
- Aim - The Agreement would provide an end-to-end solution for detection, identification, and monitoring of vessels in the regions of interest for France and India.
11. An industrial way forward agreement in Nuclear Field
- Aim – This agreement prescribes a way forward for the implementation of the Jaitapur nuclear power project.
Note: A so-called "Industrial Way Forward Agreement" was signed between French utility EDF and India's NPCIL for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur.
12. Cooperation in the matter of Hydrography and Maritime Cartography
- Aim – To encourage cooperation between the two countries in the field of hydrography, nautical documentation and maritime safety information.
13. Credit Facility Agreement worth 100 billion Euro for Smart Cities and Solar Energy
- Aim - This agreement will help fill the funding gap under the Smart City Mission and the funds provided by the Central and State Governments for the purpose.
14. MoU on Solar Energy
- Aim - With this agreement, both countries shall work on projects in ISA member countries in the areas of solar energy (solar photovoltaic, storage technologies, etc.) through the transfer of technology and collaborative activities.
According to reports, around 200 million euros of investments will be made in India. The French and Indian companies have also signed contracts worth $16 billion on the occasion.
The deals include a contract for France’s Safran to supply SpiceJet with engines, water system modernisation by French water utility firm Suez in the southern city of Davangere and a contract between industrial gas company Air Liquide and Sterlite.
International Solar Alliance summit
First International Solar Alliance Meet held in New Delhi
- The first International Solar Alliance summit was held in New Delhi.
- The summit was co-hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind and his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron.
- The heads of 23 nations and 10 ministerial representatives participated in the summit.
- The aim of the summit is to deliberate on a finance mechanism for the promotion of solar energy in member countries, crowd-funding and technology transfer.
- During the summit, it was pledged to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2022, including 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from the wind.
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched jointly by India and France following the Paris Declaration at the UN Climate Change Conference on November 30, 2015.
- The International Solar Alliance was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande.
- There are 121 prospective member countries and territories of ISA, out of which close to 90 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement.
- The ISA is the first international body that will have a secretariat in India.
- Its headquarter is located at National Solar Energy Institute (NSEI) at Gwalpahari, Gurugram in Haryana.
Indo-French Knowledge Summit
First, ever Indo-French Knowledge Summit held in New Delhi
- The Knowledge Summit is the First Franco-Indian Summit for university, scientific and technologic cooperation.
- The objective of the Knowledge Summit is to design a roadmap of Franco-Indian cooperation for the next five years, in collaboration with companies.
- The summit was organized by the French Embassy in India and co-hosted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
- According to the HRD Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar - The Government will soon launch its Study in India Programme to encourage more foreign students to take up education in India.
- At present, there are 47000 foreign students learning in India and by 2022 we will have at least 100,000 students learning in India.
- During the summit, a record number of MoUs (around 15) were unveiled between universities and research institutions on joint initiatives and partnerships.
The largest solar power plant inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh
Inauguration of the largest solar power plant in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the 75 MW solar power plant in Mirzapur.
- It is the largest solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh.
- The solar power plant has been built in the with French solar power firm ENGIE SOLAR at Dadar Kalan village in Mirzapur.
- The plant will generate 15.6 crore units of electricity annually, about 1.30 crore units per month.
- The electricity generated by the project will be supplied by ENGIE at the rate of Rs.4.43 per unit for a period of 25 years.
- Currently, 75 mega-watt electricity is being generated. India is generating 20 GW of energy from solar power with an aim to scale this up to 100 GW by 2022.
- India has set up an ambitious target of setting up of 1 lakh MW solar power plants in the country by 2022.
- The current Union Minister of State is R.K. Singh.
Key facts related to France with respect to India
- 9th largest foreign investor - According to the Ministry of External Affairs, France is the 9th largest foreign investor in India with a growing investment of US$ 6.09 billion from April 2000 to October 2017.
- French companies in India - Approx. 1000 French companies are present in India. About 120 Indian companies have invested in excess of Euro 1 billion in France and employ close to 7000 people.
- India-France strategic partnership – It was established in 1998, is one of the most important and comprehensive bilateral engagements and is marked by intense and frequent high-level exchanges and deep political understanding.
- The Indian community in France - The Indian community, including NRIs in mainland France number around 1.1 lakh people; largely originating from French enclaves of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe, and Chandernagore.
- Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations - The last visit of the French President to India was in January 2016, when the French President François Hollande was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
- Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project - An agreement was signed for the construction of the first set of two third-generation European Pressurized Reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years in the presence of French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on 6 December 2010.
- Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. If the project is successfully completed it would be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating.