India – France Relations | Strategic Partnership
Share same political vision:
- Deeply attached to national sovereignty and strategic autonomy.
- Want peace and security in world, as enshrined in UN Charter.
- Two countries consult each other on all major international issues.
- Spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust, and even support, by taking into account security interests.
Share numerous common values:
- Democracy, rule of law, individual freedom, respect of fundamental rights and human rights.
- Two countries are moving forward together in intense cooperation in sensitive areas, such as defence, civilian nuclear energy, space, security and counter-terrorism.
India – France | Defence & National Security Stratergy
Two imperatives of sovereignty had to be reconciled:
- Strategic autonomy and
- Financial sovereignty.
• National sovereignty depends on State’s autonomy of assessment, decision-making and action.
• This does not imply isolation or unilateralism.
• It is just the reverse.
• Intent to cooperate for world’s security.
• Respect for international law.
• Deterrence capacity protects from all State-led aggressions or threats against vital interests.
• It thus guarantees autonomy of action and decision-making, particularly countering blackmail attempts against vital interests.
• It is strictly defensive and its use would be conceivable only in extreme circumstances of legitimate defence.
• It is ultimate guarantee of security, protection and independence.
• It also contributes to security of Allies.
• Nuclear deterrence applies principle of strict sufficiency, and not participation in a nuclear arms race.
• Over and above the capabilities that we devote to constant protection of our territory, we are ready to be engaged in stabilization and crisis management missions in all their diversity.
India – France Relations | Priorities
- Endowing ourselves with technical intelligence capabilities in this field to identify source of attacks, assess offensive capacities of potential adversaries, and be capable of countering them.
- These capabilities for identification and offensive action are essential for counterattacks.
- Earmarking considerable funds, with organisation of cyber defence integrated with armed forces, along with offensive and defensive capacities to prepare for and support military operations.
- Knowing and anticipating is a must for assessing situations for ourselves and taking informed decisions.
- Develop space capabilities, whether national or shared, with regard to signals intelligence and imaging.
- They should serve not only for preparation and conduct of military operations, but also for deterrence, as well as when confronted with ballistic threat, which necessitates early warning capabilities.
- In background, we are, of course, reaffirming our industrial ambition.
- It is an integral part of our strategic autonomy.
- Priority in this area for decade to come will therefore be research and development.
- It will also be competitiveness and strengthening of our industrial and technological base.
- Equipping and modernizing our armed forces will contribute to this goal.
- For this, technological monitoring and funding upstream studies are strategic.
- Exports, of course, are an important aspect of this industrial strategy.
India – France Relations | Threats
- Geography and history are such that India and France do not share same security contexts.
- But globalization, technological progress, cross-cutting nature of current or impending threats are such that today we are more exposed to threats that are similar on several counts.
- Further, Asia today is one of the most dynamic regions of world.
- Its stability and growth have become essential to prosperity of Western economies.
- Major French industrial groups have massively invested in Asia, especially India, where 350 companies hold a total investment stock of 18 billion dollars, accumulated over a few years.
- This trend will continue.
- Stability and security of one thus guarantee the same for the other.
- But security and stability are not assured.
- Structures of collective security are yet to attain maturity.
Three Major Types of Threats
Threat of strength:
- They are always present and assume new forms.
- Resurgence of conflicts between States remains plausible.
- In this regard, some States pursue a power policy, and their growing defence budgets are a good indicator.
- In Middle East region, currently undergoing great upheaval, there is a threat to stability and security of Gulf, and therefore for those of all countries depending on fossil fuel from this region.
- Most threatened States may use force to prevent this dangerous development, paving way for possibility of a large-scale crisis.
- Others will be tempted to embark on a nuclear arms guarantee race, which would trigger a grave proliferation crisis.
- France has entered into defence treaties with several Arab States of Gulf and established a permanent military base in Abu Dhabi with land, naval and air forces.
- It will fully contribute to the security of the Gulf if this region were threatened.
- India has major interests in Gulf and can play a very important role in this regard.
Threats of weakness of States:
- Some failing States can no longer discharge their responsibilities.
- This becomes a strategic phenomenon of a new magnitude.
- It is clear that terrorism becomes its first beneficiary.
- This is true of Africa.
- This would reinforce international terrorist network from West Africa to South Asia.
- High risks exist in other countries of Sahel region and entire geographic axis that runs from Pakistan to North Atlantic.
- This also holds for South Asia; especially Af-Pak region.
Threats linked to globalization: Cyber attacks and piracy attacks global commons.
These are the two extremities of spectrum:
- On one hand, criminal networks and powerful States controlling technologies that, in their hands, constitute threats for whole world.
- On the other, groups using rudimentary but effective means, which threaten, for example, security of sea routes that are essential for global economy.
- France and India are cooperating positively in this matter.
Security of cyberspace:
- Our States, our societies, our economies are today largely alive due to digital infrastructure.
- Often ill-protected, they are targets of hacking for spying purposes.
- Even more serious is the fact that these attacks now aim to destroy or manipulate through remote control.
- Infrastructure that is vital for functioning of our societies and our States – even that of weapons systems – can be targeted.
- States and criminal networks are behind these attacks.
- Cyberspace is now a full-fledged battleground.
- Information is methodically collected to make large-scale attacks possible in a situation of conflict.
- Attacks could paralyze entire sectors of a country’s activity or economy and lead to a disaster.
- Such attacks could hence constitute real acts of war.
- We must protect ourselves and be prepared to identify assailants and respond to them.
- Cooperation between close countries that share same values in this matter is necessary.
- New Indo-French dialogue on cyber security.
India – France Relations | Defence co-operation for Strategic Autonomy
- India’s economic emergence, and privileged bilateral relation, enshrined in strategic partnership established in 1998 enables us to cooperate in areas that involve major interests of two countries.
- In South Asian region, India appears as a factor of stability.
- France supports reform of UNSC that would make room for new permanent members, which would include India.
- Defence relations between two countries go well beyond 1998 strategic partnership, even if it constitutes current framework of defence relations, along with 2006 defence agreement.
- French soldiers in India shared their know-how, and fought alongside Indian princes, among others, against British in 18th and early 19th centuries. (Tipu Sultan, Scindias of Gwalior and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.)
- During World War I, thousands of Indian soldiers came to fight on European battlegrounds, particularly on French soil, for France’s freedom. On occasion of anniversary of War’s outbreak, France paid special tribute to these Indian soldiers in 2014.
- Since India’s independence, our defence cooperation took a new dimension.
- France was among first defence partners for both army and air force.
- In 1953 Dassault signed its maiden agreement with India for supplying Toofan/Ouragan aircraft.
- Today, we are pursuing a protean military cooperation.
- Its ambition is even greater as our mutual trust is very high, and we are two nations that wish to preserve their strategic autonomy while simultaneously desiring peace.
- Together, we regularly conduct land (Shakti), naval (Varuna), and air joint exercises (Garuda).
- Year after year, with exchange of officers between our military academies, our armed forces are learning to know each other, working in tandem, exchanging their skills.
- Exercises have become more substantive.
- A major aero-naval exercise be conducted in Indian Ocean, with nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and ships that Indian Navy would like to deploy.
- Industrial and technological cooperation are on right path.
- DCNS company is building six Scorpene submarines at Mazagaon Docks shipyard (MDL) in Mumbai, with complete transfer of technology and extremely important cooperation with Indian industry.
- French manufacturers are also working on upgrading Mirage 2000 fleet that India acquired in 1980.
- MMRCA project is priority.
- Beyond aircraft, an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation that has been commenced will be pursued between two countries.
- Another important project is SRSAM, a short-range missiles system that we are developing together between DRDO and the French company, MBDA.
- MMRCA, like SRSAM, show that our defence relation is soaring.
- It is in same spirit of co-development in which we take up other projects in India, at more or less advanced stages, be they light helicopters, artillery, PCS, submarines or other types or missiles.
To sum up, underlying principles of this defence cooperation can be defined as follows:
- France and India have embarked on a long-termed partnership, which is strategic in nature.
- Our defence dialogue between our armed forces are held – like strategic dialogue – in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust and support, taking into consideration our respective interests.
- We have gone beyond client-supplier relation.
- Our cooperation projects should further improve our respective industrial and technological bases in defence sector and contribute to strengthening security of both our countries.
- In this perspective, France is prepared to initiate joint co-development and co-production projects, which once we decide on together, would include, in future, exporting equipment produced in third country markets.
- Similarly, France is ready to share an increasing level of defence technology, in connection with development of joint projects.
- In same logic of partnership, France assures India of continuity of supplies for acquired equipment.
- Complying with our laws and national interests, we are prepared, when time comes, to encourage investments in defence sector, which companies concerned may desire to make.
- France encourages India to come closer to international export control regimes, such as MTCR for missiles and Wassenaar Arrangement for Conventional Arms, with a view to adhering to these.
- Strategic autonomy is at core of our defence policies and our diplomacies.