France-India partnership is flourishing, says Minister

India – Bilateral relations – Speech by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to the French community (excerpts)

Bangalore, 8 January 2017

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The France-India bilateral relationship is based, above all, on human ties. You embody these ties, you help consolidate them, just like those French people of Indian origin from Metropolitan and Overseas France, some of whom are here today.

A growing number of Indian people are moving to France. This immigration, which contributes to our country’s diversity and richness, is rooted in history. We too often forget that Réunion’s history is closely bound up with India’s. Nearly a third of the French people who live there are of Indian origin. Mainly from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, they’re a bridge between our two countries, furthering our cooperation. The day after tomorrow, I myself will be in Gujarat, where France is participating in the annual economic forum in Ahmedabad. There I’ll be meeting Prime Minister Modi, who was in Bangalore today.

The France-India relationship is also a strategic partnership which makes India a major partner of France in Asia. This strategic partnership is flourishing, whether as regards space, maritime safety, the fight against terrorism, nuclear cooperation or, of course, defence. It was further strengthened last year with President Hollande’s state visit, which resulted in the signing of the Rafale contract.

This partnership between our two countries is resolutely geared to the future. Together, we’ll help build the India of tomorrow. Together, we’re seeking solutions to address our common challenges, such as sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

At the end of 2017, all over India we’ll be celebrating – thanks to the Bonjour India festival – the vitality of the France-India relationship, our unwavering friendship and the values shared by our two countries.

Our presence in Bangalore – i.e. your presence – perfectly illustrates the many aspects of the France-India relationship.

This presence is also economic. Some 100 French businesses are here, from CAC40 companies to SMEs, in every sector: [for example] in information technology, obviously – since we’re at the heart of India’s Silicon Valley! –, and aerospace, with Airbus, Safran, Thalès and Dassault, whose recent success I welcome. I mentioned Thalès; let’s remember that as early as 1953 its forerunner, CSF, set up in cooperation with the Indian authorities one of the first telecommunications equipment factories in Bangalore, which is today the centre of the public group Bharat Electronics. So France pioneered the development of this Indian electronics capital!

I’m also thinking of other sectors such as rail transport, with Alstom, and sport, with Decathlon, a fine example of French success in India.

I couldn’t list all those who contribute to the robustness of Franco-Indian ties. You all illustrate the diversity of France’s presence in India and the diversity of our skills and French talent and know-how. I’m thinking of start-ups and innovation. I’m also thinking of space. Our two space agencies, CNES and ISRO, have been working together for over half a century – still pioneers! Today, India is our number one non-European partner, after NASA.

On Monday, the CNES President and I will be going to ISRO, then we’ll visit a private Indian company which plans to send a small robot to the moon at the end of this year. The robot’s eyes – two very hi-tech cameras – will be French. For the first time, a piece of French equipment will set foot on the moon; it will travel on board an Indian capsule, a fine example of our shared accomplishments. (…)

New arrivals to India are often told, “you won’t change India, India will change you”. For me, admittedly, the process is still recent, since I arrived less than 24 hours ago…! But I know that India is a country which leaves a deep impression. Because of its history, its culture and its men. Because of the challenges it faces, too.

India is changing, as we can see. It is changing fast. It is aware that the challenges confronting it are major ones, not just for the country but for the stability of the world. They also provide as many opportunities to be grasped, and we want France to support this change. Thank you to everyone – citizens and businesses – who has chosen to move to India and Bangalore and support the emergence of this great country. You are all helping to heighten France’s impact on the world. (…)./.

Published on 13/01/2017

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