President Emmanuel Macron’s red carpet welcome comes weeks after Modi was accorded the rare honour of a White House state dinner in Washington – the city he was once banned from visiting. That visit struck deals on arms sales, semiconductor investments and space cooperation, fueling human rights concerns about India’s Hindu nationalist government and accusations of growing religious intolerance towards the country’s Muslim minority.
Further strategic and economic alliances are expected in Paris, which seeks to broaden its engagement in Asia with other Western countries to counter growing Chinese assertiveness in the region. Macron’s Elysee Palace office said in June that Modi’s visit, along with Indian soldiers joining the annual Bastille Day military parade, marked “a new phase in the strategic partnership between France and India”. Using the term used by the US and its allies for the Asia-Pacific region, the statement said the two countries have “a shared vision of peace and security, particularly in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region”.
Modi, who welcomed the French leader with his traditional bear during his first state visit to India in 2018, said on Twitter last week that he was “looking forward to meeting my friend President Macron”. “The India-France strategic partnership is of great importance for the global good,” he said. India is already a customer of French arms, including Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets, as it seeks to modernize its forces to deal with potential future threats from its northern neighbour.
The urgency of New Delhi’s act has been heightened by escalating disputes with Beijing over the countries’ vast Himalayan border, the site of a 2020 clash that left 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead, and a deterioration in relations between the two capitals Was. India once suffered from severe poverty, but its middle class has grown in recent decades thanks to a booming economy, which last year overtook former colonial ruler Britain to become the fifth largest globally.
In April, the country welcomed Apple’s first retail store, eager to take advantage of the growing market for high-end consumer goods in what is now the world’s most populous country. The US tech giant is also ramping up semiconductor and phone production in India to counter the threat of politically motivated supply chain disruptions in China. India’s growing economic strength has been matched with diplomatic assertiveness as its leaders relish the country’s new prominence on the global stage. This year, India is hosting the G20 summit for the first time and Modi has used the meeting to domestically polish his image as a guardian of national strength and prosperity.
Modi has struck a fine balance between historic ally Moscow and its new Western backers, refusing to criticize last year’s invasion of Ukraine while India took away subsidized Russian oil. At the same time, his government has been enthusiastically welcomed into closer security cooperation with the West through the Quad alliance, a grouping that also includes the United States, Australia and Japan, and has been seen as another counterweight to China. is seen.
Modi attended a cricket match at his namesake stadium in March with Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, who compared the charismatic Indian leader to rock musician Bruce Springsteen at a grand reception in Sydney two months later. New Delhi-based author and geopolitical commentator, Manoj Joshi said, “It is about containing China.” “China is becoming a tough market… and in terms of the size and strength of its economy, India is a perfect fit”.
But US President Joe Biden’s rapturous welcome in Washington last month saw a minor setback when several lawmakers boycotted Modi’s joint address to Congress, citing his human rights record. Rights groups say India’s 200 million Muslims have faced discrimination and violence since India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. Modi himself was once placed on a travel ban by the US State Department due to religious riots in 2002 that killed nearly 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.
He has denied any responsibility for the violence and a subsequent government inquiry has indicted him. His government has also been accused of stifling free media, with India falling 21 places to 161st out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index since he took office. The BBC’s Indian offices were raided by the tax department in February, weeks after the British broadcaster faced government criticism for airing a documentary questioning Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots. The ruling party denied that the raids were politically motivated, while Diplomats in London and Washington refrained from criticizing him.