Since 1950, India has been following a special tradition for its Republic Day celebrations. A head of state of another country is invited to preside over the celebrations on 26 January every year. In 2015, President Barack Obama was the guest of honour at the celebrations in New Delhi. This year, India has invited French President Francois Hollande as the chief guest at India’s 67th republic day parade.

“This invitation conveys the excellent quality and dynamism of the strategic partnership between India and France, which will be further strengthened on this occasion,” the French Embassy in India commented in its press release.

The two countries have shared important ties for decades that have been further strengthened in recent years. There have been several diplomatic visits by leaders of both countries demonstrating an interest in trade expansion.

Indo-French Trade Ties

In 2014, there was a 73% increase in FDI inflows from France compared to the year 2013. There are at least 750 French subsidiaries employing 240,000 people in India. These French companies in India span across sectors such as technology, communications, banking, food processing and pharmaceuticals. Indian companies such as Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra & Mahindra and Crompton Greaves have invested in France.

 


The countries also share close ties in the space of security, defence, space and civil nuclear issues. It was with France that India first entered into civil nuclear energy cooperation in 2008. In fact, India is in its penultimate phase of sealing a crucial defence deal of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. The agreement on which will be signed during the scheduled visit of the French President. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already visited France twice in 2015 – In April and in November for the Paris Climate Change Conference.  During Modi’s April visit the two countries singed 20 pacts across areas such as sustainable development, urban development, railways, space and nuclear energy. The Indian Prime minister also emphasized his ‘Make in India’ campaign to encourage France to source more parts from India. Francois Hollande’s impending visit will be the 5th time a French leader is a guest of honour at India’s republic day parade. Prime Minister Jacques Chirac was the chief guest in 1976 as well as 1998; President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing was invited in 1980, while President Nicolas Sarkozy was part of the republic day celebrations in 2008.  


Elizabeth Raj | Blogger- Arsha Consulting

Image credit: Narendramodi Official

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