On the occasion of the commemoration of the World War I Centenary, the French Government paid tribute to the sacrifice of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for France’s freedom. Between 1914 and 1918, around 90,000 Indian soldiers fought on French soil, more than 8,500 of whom perished. The two battles of Neuve Chapelle, which took place in October 1914 and March 1915, remain etched in France’s memory for their heroic feat. Prime Minister Modi will on Saturday, 11 April 2015 visit the War Memorial dedicated to Indian soldiers, in the presence of Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence.
The Indo-French defence relationship has proven its robustness and longevity for more than half a century – a few landmarks:
1953: acquisition of the military aircraft TOOFANI (Dassault) by the Indian Air Force, followed by a continuous cooperation - MYSTERE IV (1957), naval ALIZÉ (1960), JAGUAR (1979) manufactured under license by HAL, and MIRAGE 2000 (1982).
1962: licence agreement between SudAviation/Aerospatiale (Airbus) and HAL and, since then, production of Cheetah/Chetak (Lama/Alouette) helicopters.
1982: agreement on the transfer of technology of the MILAN missile MBDA-BDl
Since 1998: regular land (Shakti), naval (Varuna) and air (Garuda) joint exercises.
2005: agreement to build Scorpene submarine in India (DCNS).
2006: Defence Bilateral Agreement.
3. As strategic partners, India and France consult and support each other on international matters in a spirit of mutual understanding and commitment to the benefit of the international community at large. Reaffirming their independence and strategic autonomy, France and India commit to continuing their joint efforts to tackle global challenges.
13. The leaders stressed the importance of joint military exercises between their Armies (Shakti), Navies (Varuna), and Air Forces (Garuda) and welcomed the participation of the French Carrier Battle Group in the Varuna exercise in the Indian Ocean in the coming weeks. The two leaders underlined the long history of cooperation between France and India in the defense sector and acknowledged the strong commitment of French companies to manufacturing in India. The two leaders called for further intensification of cooperation in agreed areas, including collaboration in defence technologies, research and development. In response to new emphasis on defence manufacturing by the Government of India, they encouraged their respective business enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India, including transfer of know-how and technologies. They welcomed the announcements made by French Defence enterprises to set up technological and industrial projects in India following the meeting of French Defence Industry leaders with the Prime Minister of India.
14. Government of India conveyed to the Government of France that in view of the critical operational necessity for Multirole Combat Aircraft for Indian Air Force, Government of India would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible. The two leaders agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway; the delivery would be in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF; and that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France.
15. In the context of ongoing commemoration of the First World War in the two countries, President Hollande recalled the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers who gave up their lives a century ago fighting for France’s freedom. Prime Minister conveyed that he would be visiting the Memorial at Neuve Chapelle in France built in the memory of martyrs and heroes from India who fought on the western front.