Speech on the occasion of the State Dinner in India
Speech by H.E. Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic, on the occasion of the State Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic of India.
New Delhi – Monday, 25 January 2016
On the occasion of my second visit here in India and on the eve of Republic Day, 66 years after the adoption of your Constitution, France is celebrating with you the values that unite us: liberty, equality, fraternity, as these words appear in your fundamental text.
Tomorrow morning I will attend the parade with my delegation; it’s the fifth time that a French leader has been invited as the Chief Guest. It is a mark of trust that helps understand the ties that bind our two countries.
In 2008, Indian troops participated for the first time in the 14 July ceremonies on the Champs-Elysées; but actually, Indian soldiers had already paraded in Paris. They had fought on French soil for the freedom of our country, which had been invaded during World War I. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to them during his visit to France in April last year, at the Neuve-Chapelle War Memorial in northern France. France will never forget their bravery and their sacrifice.
I would therefore like India to be the Guest of Honour once again at our national day celebrations. This year, a French contingent will march alongside Indian soldiers; this is also historic and a powerful symbol that of our alliance. It is an alliance for peace.
Our strategic partnership, signed in 1998, is solid; it is necessary for the security of our two countries, for regional and global stability.
France and India have no enemies in the world, except terrorism, and it has hit India as well as France hard. The major threat today is that of Daesch, which is spreading its murderous network everywhere, all the way to Asia. France is fighting it in Iraq and Syria.
I would like to thank you, Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, for India’s support to this effort. When India is attacked in some way or the other, she can also count on France’s support. That is why we have concluded a defence agreement that goes beyond the provision of equipment, even if it is true that the Rafale aircraft are part of what we are sharing, that is to say, we are sharing our technology and the efficiency of our military actions.
Mr President, the first two days of my visit ahead of the third day, met all the expectations that Prime Minister Modi and I had articulated in April last year. We have concluded many agreements, major French investments have been made or announced, contributing to “Make in India”. There are many French companies – and some present here through their managers – that have chosen India and wish to develop here, as the future lies here.
We also have cooperation in many other areas, such as economic, cultural, scientific, university, because we consider India and France can make an outstanding contribution towards influencing the world’s destiny, and we have already shown it. In Paris last December, we – all the countries of the international community gathered together – were able to conclude an agreement on the climate. We would not have succeeded without India and now we must implement it with India. We are acting so that the promises of the Paris Conference may be kept.
It’s true, Mr President. Yesterday, I visited the city of Chandigarh, a city that embodies the Indo-French history that Pandit Nehru desired, and which is also a city of the future. History is what architect Le Corbusier had represented through the modernity of the 1950s and 60s. Today, it’s another modernity that we must engage through smart cities and we have concluded agreements necessary for the success of this project in Chandigarh, which will become both a green and an intelligent model city, along with numerous other cities of India that could also be interlinked by high-speed railways.
Today, the Hon’ble Prime Minister and I have launched the International Solar Alliance. No effort must be spared so that this alliance may bring the energy that numerous peoples of the world await of it. This alliance must also contribute towards the emergence of technologies, towards sharing them so that they are less expensive and more efficient. The “saffron” revolution that you have announced for India, Mr Prime Minister, is already underway and France wishes to earmark significant resources.
We also wish to participate in various research projects in all areas, particularly biotechnology, and this will be a project that could bring us together in the Indian Ocean because, I would like to recall, France is present in the Indian Ocean through its territories.
Mr President, France and India are two great cultures, two great civilizations that have ceaselessly continued to meet and explore each other. France is proud to host almost 4,000 Indian students – it’s still very little and we would like to do more.
We have numerous celebrities from the film industry, from the show world, from literature, who have accompanied me on my India visit. I also wished this trip to translate a certain desire, that of letting our cultures dialogue with each other, of promoting them because they are part of the friendship that links us. André Malraux said of India that there was a kind of spiritual charge in it. Well, the world still needs the spirit of India today, the wealth of her age-old Vedic civilization, where the most ancient past mingles with the most vibrant of modernities. The world needs India, your great rich culture of 22 languages; the world needs the greatest democracy of the world, which respects all faiths and religions. Such is the ambition I nurture: building a common future between France and India but at the service of the whole world; and it is this spirit that leads me to lift my glass in a toast to the friendship between France and India.