Sunday May 27, 2018
Home India Will India-Fr...

Will India-France relationship get stronger?

0
//
266
C
Republish
Reprint

New Delhi: As the guest of honour French President Francois Hollande would be visiting India on 26 January at the Republic Day parade. Will the visit reflect a good sign of France-India relations?

It’s been almost two years to the date from Hollande’s first visit to India as the President. In the interregnum, a lot has changed around the world and in bilateral relations. The world is confronted with its biggest geostrategic challenge in the shape of the Islamic State (IS), which has emerged as a major threat to peace and security around the world and whose agents have already carried out numerous attacks in France, the US and many other countries.

The IS attacks in the Middle East have also led to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War and over a million refugees have landed in the European Union. Hundreds more have perished in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea, seeking the safety of Europe.

The situation of the world economy is hardly any better, as over the last year or so it has been rattled by the Chinese tsunami and a European economy that seems stuck in low, jobless growth, with very few bright spots, including India, which seem to be keeping the global economy afloat.

With its expected GDP growth of about seven percent this year, India has kept its place as the fastest-growing large economy in the world for the second year running. Business ventures from around the world, including France, are now looking at India with renewed expectations. Ever since India elected Narendra Modi as prime minister in May 2014, there seems to be a new spring in the step of Indian relations with France.

Modi was in France twice in 2015, once on a bilateral visit in April and then again in November for the Climate Change Summit in Paris. Besides, Indian and French leaders have taken time out for bilateral discussions at practically all multilateral events like the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September and the G20 meet in Antalya, Turkey, in November.

Anyone looking for signs of this new sense of purpose and direction in the relationship needs to only look at the fresh movement in the long-pending deal over the purchase of the French Rafale multi-role medium range combat aircraft. After having been stuck for nearly seven years, when in January 2012, India finally opted for Rafale as the aircraft that would become the new backbone of the Indian Air Force, with 128 fulfilling the role, the French government and Rafale-manufacturer Dassault were hoping it would be only a matter of a few months more to close the deal and begin the supply of the aircraft.

On his first visit to France, at a joint press conference with Hollande in Palais Elysee, Modi sprung a surprise and announced that India would buy 36 Rafales in fly-away condition, saying that the terms of this deal would be finalised shortly.

The announcement came as a big relief to Dassault, which was on the verge of closing down the Rafale assembly line as it had no firm orders on hand from anywhere. Eight months later, as Hollande reaches India, hopes are high that the deal would be sealed during this visit with clear timetables for delivery of the aircraft and setting the scene for a bigger defence deal between the two sides.

Modi sees a big role for the French in creating a real manufacturing hub in the country, especially in areas where the French are normally strong, notably railways, aviation, defence, automobile, nuclear power etc. During his visit to France in April last year, Modi highlighted several times the focus of his government in improving the manufacturing sector and with several very aggressive incentive schemes to get the Indian private sector and foreign companies as well to invest more aggressively in order to boost the manufacturing capacities in the country.

Besides, Make in India, France is an equally good and logical partner for India in the implementation of several other projects that the country has been focussing on one of the most important areas for enhanced bilateral cooperation in the urbanisation of India.

In the smart city project, the French have already evinced interest in undertaking the work in three cities.

Another key area where France could lend a helping hand to India is the country’s power sector, in conventional, nuclear as well as renewable energy sources. The biggest boost in this collaboration was received during the Climate Change Summit. At the event, India, along with dozens of other nations, launched the International Solar Alliance, aimed at pooling resources and technologies to boost the solar energy power plants throughout the nations that are blessed with an adequate number of sunny days.

So far, the Indo-French business relationship remains overwhelmingly dominated by the behemoths, with the very little engagement of the smaller companies, which ironically make up the bulk of both Indian and French economies. The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector is involved only in small volumes of trades in very traditional segments such as textiles, food, gems and jewellery.

But the reluctance of more SMEs to trade or do business with each other has led to a stagnation in Indo-French trade, which has been hovering around the seven billion euro mark for almost all of the past decade, despite several ambitious targets set by leaders on various occasions. This pales in comparison to the trade between India and Germany or India and the UK, both of which are nearly thrice as high as that of France.

The new focus areas of India could be the big breakthrough in this relationship which could help take the bilateral trade to the next level and give the bandwidth which has been missing from this crucial relationship for a long while.(IANS)(image: odishanewsinsight)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

0
//
13
representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)