Various plans announced including a new agreement on the use of India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in Eiffel Tower, five-year visa for Master’s students and Indian Consulate in Marseille

Subhasini Naicker Wednesday 19th July 2023 06:15 EDT

The history of the relationship between France and India is extensive and has been progressively improving in recent years. India and France have collaborated on a wide range of international problems, including commercial relations, climate action, and defense collaboration.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to France to attend the Bastille Day parade marks a represents a crucial turning point in the two countries' developing ties. As he landed in Paris, he received a warm welcome from the Indian community, which gathered to greet him and also chanted 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.  During his speech to the Indian diaspora at the historic La Seine Musicale in Paris, PM Modi emphasised the strength of Indian democracy and highlighted that nations like India and France can work together to advance global development. Many members of the Indian community attended the event, which began with cultural programmes.

There were many good announcements in store for the diaspora, including plans to open a new Indian Consulate in Marseille and an updated agreement on the use of India's Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in France, as well as Master's students from India being able to receive five-year post-study visas. He called his visit to France "special" as it celebrates its National Day and congratulated the people on the occasion.

Talented actor, R. Madhavan was among other guests to attend the banquet dinner organised by French President Emmanuel Macron in honour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Other Indian-origin artists Ricky Kej, a Grammy-winning composer, and Priyanka Rajkakati, an Assamese aerospace engineer, also attended the banquet. The ceremonial dinner was organised on French National Day at Paris' Louvre Museum, where banquets were closed off after they were last held for Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

PM Modi met Indian-origin Mrs. Leena Nair, Global CEO of Chanel, and talked about further ways to boost skill development among artisans and make Khadi more popular.

The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also coincides with the 25th anniversary of India and France's strategic alliance. In 1998, the then-French president Jacques Chirac visited India, and the two nations agreed to build on their existing bilateral collaboration to promote their respective strategic independence.
Modi addressed Indian diaspora in Paris 

During his address, PM Modi announced that India and France have reached an agreement on the use of UPI in France, which will start from the Eiffel Tower. He also said that Indian students pursuing master's degree in France can now get a 5-year post-study visa. He also recalled taking membership in the Alliance Francaise, the cultural centre of France in India, around 40 years ago, and being the first person to get registered for it.

PM Modi stated that "Wherever we go, we create a "mini-India" there." Speaking about the bond between India and France, PM Modi said that people-to-people connections and mutual trust between the people of the two nations are the strongest foundations of this partnership. "Our people-to-people connection and mutual trust between people of two countries are the strongest foundation of the India-France partnership," he said. "India and France are tackling many challenges of the 21st century. Consequently, at this crucial time, the importance of the strategic partnership between our countries has increased even more," he added. Amid applause, he noted: "French football player Kylian Mbappe is a superstar among the youth in India. Mbappe is probably known to more people in India than in France."

Rupee payment option in France 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Indian visitors to France would soon be able to use smartphone apps to make payments in rupees. He claimed that France and India have agreed to implement the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in this country of Europe, creating a sizable new market for Indian innovation. 

"In France, an agreement has been made for the use of India's UPI. It will be started from the Eiffel Tower, and now Indian tourists would be able to make payments in Rupees, through UPI, in the Eiffel Tower," PM Modi said during his address to the Indian diaspora. In 2023, UPI and Singapore's PayNow signed an agreement, allowing users in either country to make cross-border transactions.

Indian influence on the Bastille Day procession on the Champs-Élysées

PM Narendra Modi attended the Bastille Day Parade as the guest of honour at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron on the Champs-Élysées. For the first time since 2017, a foreign leader served as the parade's chief guest.

A 241-member detachment of the Indian armed forces from all three services, led by a military band, took part in the parade to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership. According to the administration, the Punjab Regiment and the Rajputana Rifles Regiment were in charge of the Indian Army contingent.

IAF Rafale planes from the Hashimara-based 101 Squadron took part in the flypast during the parade. The Indian statement stated that "July 14 marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, during the French revolution that symbolises the democratic values of liberty, equality, and fraternity’, the central theme of both the Indian and French constitutions."

With France’s top honour, another feather in Modi cap

France's highest honor, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. According to a statement from the Indian government, Modi thanked Macron for the extraordinary honour on behalf of the Indian people. Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to receive this honour.

"In the past, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour has been received by select prominent leaders and eminent personalities from across the world. These include former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, King Charles, the then Prince of Wales, former chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Boutros Boutros Ghali, former secretary general of the United Nations, among others," said a source.

India, France collaborate to establish balanced, stable order under new Indo-Pacific Roadmap

The Indo-French relationship in the Indian Ocean has grown to be an essential emphasis of our bilateral ties, according to the India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap. In 2018, India and France agreed on a ‘Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region’. Our combined efforts can now be expanded to the Pacific.

"Our two countries believe in a free, open, inclusive, secure, and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. Our cooperation seeks to secure our own economic and security interests; ensure equal and free access to global commons; build partnerships of prosperity and sustainability in the region; advance the rule of international law; and, working with others in the region and beyond, build a balanced and stable order in the region, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The statement claims that the Indo-Pacific strategy's security and cooperation goals and Prime Minister Modi's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) are "very much aligned." The partnership between France and India, it continued, is "comprehensive" and spans a variety of areas, including infrastructure, connectivity, connectivity, sustainability, and human-centered development.

According to the statement, India and France would expand naval visits, build India's defense industry, and work together to meet other countries' demands. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the French President at the Elysee Palace during his attendance as Guest of Honor at the Bastille Day Parade. The discussions between the two leaders covered a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation including defence, space, civil nuclear, science and technology, trade and investment, energy, climate action, culture and people-to-people ties.

Defence deals

The agreement signed for the construction of three additional Scorpene submarines in India was removed from a later draft of the bilateral statement after the proposed deal for 26 Rafale-Marine fighters failed to appear in the joint documents released following the Modi-Macron summit in Paris.

An official government source claimed “some earlier negotiating text got uploaded” on the external affairs ministry’s website “for a short while” and that it was “not the agreed upon text in any way”. The approved text now on the website is the same one as published by the French government, he added.

Both the proposed Rafale-M and Scorpene procurements, which were cleared by the defence ministry on and will together cost an estimated Rs 80,000 crore (almost 9 billion euros), of course, are still far away from being inked, as was reported earlier by media.

The government likely doesn't want to give the opposition any opportunities to stir up controversy in the lead-up to the general elections early next year, so the actual contracts won't be signed until after protracted techno-commercial negotiations and then the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security, which could take well over a year.

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