French Defence Minister to Attend the Rafale Induction Ceremony in Ambala

Bordeaux: A view of Rafale Jet at its Dassault Aviation assembly line, in Bordeaux, France, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (PTI Photo)

With the first tranche of 5 Rafale fighter jets arriving India, September 10 was the date which was decided by the Defence Ministry for the induction of the jets in Ambala. For the ceremony, the French Defence Minister Florence Parly has been invited to the Indian Air Force base in Ambala. This will mark the first visit of the French Minister post the Covid-19 travel restrictions in place in France and the ceremony is said to be a high profile one given the various roadblocks that this deal between the countries were subject to. Apart from the ceremony, a huge defence delegate from France will also accompany her for bilateral talks with her Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, who is the Defence Minister of India. She is also said to be meeting India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval during her visit to India.

Strategic Importance

The visit will mark the 1st ever foreign visit not just since the Covid-19 pandemic but also since the India-China standoff in May. France had earlier taken a stand on the issue supporting India, offering its condolences to the Indian soldiers who lost their lives amidst the face-off and also called India as their “Strategic partner in the region.” This serves as a big diplomatic achievement for India since France is also one of the permanent members in the UNSC. Various other bilateral meetings have of high stature have been held between the two countries, the latest being the G7 summit held in Paris in 2019.

Rafale Controversy

India had finally signed an MoU on the 26th of January 2016 with the French company Dassault Aviations for 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal worth $8.7-billion. The first batch of the aircraft arrived on the 30th of July this year. A huge controversy regarding the deal and misreporting of the costs of the aircraft was raised soon after the signing citing some fraudulent terms of agreement and bribes within the deal. A thorough Supreme court investigation took place where the details of the deal and other aspects regarding the purchase were scrutinised and finally dismissed the petitions filed by the people who complained about the frauds. Since then, the deal had become a political statement widely used in the elections and for citing scams without any clarity as to what the allegations are and the judgement of the highest court in India. The terms of the agreement state that all the aircraft will arrive in India by the end of April 2022. The Work Share agreement signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Dassault Aviation has been signed including other terms for technology transfers.

French Defence Minister – Florence Parly/ Image source: Euronews

India-France Partnership

India and France have shared congenial bilateral relations with almost no major disagreement on important world issues. Both countries have been extremely supportive of various collaborative efforts in technology transfers, trade and other investment activities. The areas of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the three principal pillars of their Strategic Partnership. Apart from these traditional fields of cooperation, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation like climate change, sustainable growth and development, the International Solar Alliance etc. France had always been an ardent supporter of India in various multilateral forums including the G7 summit and the UNSC. Such a shared sense of cooperation and support from both sides has helped them maintain and foster their bilateral ties to face the global challenges together.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Sejal Babel

Sejal Babel is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti

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