Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Paris on 9 April 2015 for a two-day official tour to the country. Indo-French relations reached a new level on with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that India will soon buy 36 Rafale jets in ‘fly-away condition’ and President Francois Hollande announcing an investment of two billion Euros in India.
Mr Modi said the 36 Rafale aircraft were being bought due to ‘critical operational necessity’ of the Indian Air Force. He said the terms would be better than the ongoing stalled negotiations and added that officials will soon take the acquisition forward.
Along with the Rafale deal, as many as 17 agreements, including one on the Jaitapur nuclear project, were signed between Indian and French ministries, companies and research organisations, taking cooperation in the three traditional areas of cooperation of space, nuclear and defence to a new level.
A MoU was signed between Larsen and Tubro and AREVA aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve the financial viability of the Jaitapur project. The agreement will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India.
Pre-engineering agreements were inked between NPCIL and Areva which intend to bring clarity on all technical aspects of the plant so that all parties (AREVA, Alstom and NPCIL) can firm up their price and optimise all provisions for risks still included at this stage in the costs of the project.
After the two leaders held extensive talks, MoU was also signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) on the Indo-French Megha Tropiques satellite which was launched on board the Indian launch vehicle PSLV on 12 October 2011. The MoU shall extend by two more years, the joint project for sharing and use of data from the satellite.
Under space cooperation, an agreement was also signed between ISRO and CNES. The agreement proposes cooperation in the areas of satellite remote sensing, satellite communications and satellite meteorology among others.
An MoU on cooperation between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and French Ministry of Sports, Youth Affairs, Public Education and Community Life was also signed that envisages cooperation and exchange of experiences in the fields of sports medicine and institutional cooperation.
The two countries also signed agreements increasing bilateral cooperation in the economic sector.
An MoU on cooperation in the field of renewable energy between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and France’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy was signed that will help establish the basis for cooperation and relationship to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy issues on the basis of mutual benefits and reciprocity.
A Railway protocol between Indian Ministry of Railways and French National Railways (SNCF) was also inked, seeking to establish cooperation between Indian and French Railways for semi-high speed rail and station renovation.
Other agreements signed were in the fields of energy, culture, tourism, conservation, Ayurveda, skill development and science and technology.
Mr Modi also visited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris where he spoke of the Indian government’s commitment to ensure that every citizen, faith, culture and creed has an equal place in society. He addressed UNESCO on the occasion of its 70th anniversary.
Prime Minister Modi presented President François Hollande with a painting titled “Tree of Life”.