France is losing grip on the internal politics of the EU, its influence and ability to continue plundering in Africa, relevance in the Pacific and arms-trade share. Could India be the answer to all mentioned headaches?
France is banking on India now more than ever before. Relations between India and France have reached a high level. This relationship is unfolding from the bottom of the seas into space through cyberspace. Emanuel Macron is probably feeling more comfortable in the company of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi than with leaders of the US or China.
Ties between Paris and New Delhi have been getting stronger lately. For example, since November last year, French warships have made seven visits to Indian ports. The ships of the two powers patrol the waters of the southern Indian Ocean together.
France has national interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Here, Paris keeps 7,000 soldiers and about forty military bases in overseas possessions to protect its 1.6 million citizens and the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world (11 million square kilometres). This is particularly important after being stabbed in the back by Australia. Sailing parallel with Chinese or Russian warships would be like sleeping with the enemy. Conversely, sailing parallel with American or Australian warships would be like sleeping with a disloyal wife.
Saving the French arms industry from the “Five Eyes”
At the same time, New Delhi shows a strong interest in French weapons and technology. France is now in second place on the list of arms suppliers to India, with the United States in first place and Russia in third.
The Indian Army purchased 36 Rafale aircraft for its air force in 2016. Naval Group has just built 6 Scorpène-class diesel submarines in Indian shipyards. And the Indian Navy is acquiring 26 carrier-based fighters for its second aircraft carrier and wants to buy six more French non-nuclear submarines in parallel. On the civil side, energy operator Électricité de France is working with India to launch six EPR-type nuclear reactors.
Courted by all the major powers since February 2022, India is now seizing the opportunity to bury the doctrine of non-alignment. Today, New Delhi’s voice is growing louder on the international stage to defend its vision of the world and carry the voice of the “global South”.
However, India refuses to condemn Russia at the UN and join the sanctions against Moscow. It benefits from Russian oil and gas at a good price. New Delhi emphasizes everywhere that Russia is its “historical partner” in terms of security. And also its “natural” supplier of hydrocarbons.
Being neither pro-Russian nor pro-American, India is now pursuing two goals. The first is to become a political leader of the “global south”. The second one is to become an economic superpower. Despite a slight slowdown in the national economy, India is eyeing third place in the world by 2030.