Big-ticket defense deals and top French honor: Modi’s visit to France scripts a new chapter


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Emmanuel Macron, France's First Lady Brigitte Macron and others witness the marching of Indian Army personnel during the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on Friday (ANI)

An Indian military contingent marched to the tune of ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha,’ while a squadron of IAF Rafale fighters participated in a flypast at the Bastille Day Parade.

Our Bureau
Paris/New Delhi  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Bastille Day Parade as Guest of Honor at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron on the Champs-Élysées. “To mark the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, 241-member tri-service Indian armed forces contingent led by a military band also participated in the Parade,” the PMO said in a statement.

The Indian Army contingent was led by the Punjab Regiment, along with the Rajputana Rifles Regiment.

During the parade, the Indian military contingent marched to the patriotic tune of ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha,’ while a squadron of Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale fighters participated in a flypast over the Champs-Elysees at the Bastille Day Parade.

Rafale Jets of the Indian Air Force, from the 101 Squadron from Hashimara, formed a part of the fly past during the parade. “A giant in world history, with a decisive role to play in the future, a strategic partner, a friend. We are proud to welcome India as our guest of honor at the 14 July parade,” President Macron said.

PM Modi and President Emmanuel Macron met notable dignitaries during the Bastille Day Parade in Paris.

July 14 marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, during the French Revolution, which symbolizes the democratic values of ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’, the central theme of both the Indian and French constitutions.

PM Modi and President Emmanuel Macron witnessed the Indian tri-services contingent flew over the Bastille Day Parade in Paris, showcasing the French national flag. They also saw French and Indian soldiers march along Paris’s tree-lined Champs-Elysees avenue, as Rafale fighter planes purchased by India in 2015 flew above the Arc de Triomphe.

“It reminds us of the valor & courage of the Indian soldiers on the French soil during the World Wars,” the Indian Army tweeted.

IAF’s Rafale jets flypast was showcased during the parade. Later, PM Modi attended the lunch hosted by the President of French National Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet.

PM Narendra Modi has become the first Indian Prime Minister to have been conferred with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian and military honor, by French President Emmanuel Macron.

It is the highest French honor in military or civilian orders. With this, PM Modi becomes the first Indian PM to receive this honor. PM Modi thanked French President Macron for the honor on behalf of the people of India. The award ceremony took place at the Elysee Palace where Macron hosted PM Modi for a private dinner.

In the past, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor has been received by select prominent leaders and eminent personalities from across the world. These include the former South African President Nelson Mandela, King Charles – the then Prince of Wales, Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, among others.

Earlier, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft for the Indian Navy.

DAC, which held a meeting here on Thursday, also granted the AoN for the procurement of three additional Scorpene submarines under Buy (Indian) category which will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL). A Defense Ministry release said acceptance of Necessity for Rafale Marine aircraft has been approved along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French Government based on Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA).

It said price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French Government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.

Further, the integration of Indian-designed equipment and establishment of a Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations.

The release said that the DAC also approved the proposal to lay down guidelines for achieving the desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases. “It will help in achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in critical manufacturing technologies and life-cycle sustenance of defense platforms and equipment through indigenous manufacturing,” the release said.

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