In the current geopolitical reality, bolstering the resilience of the Indo-Pacific region across all its dimensions from maritime security and economic development to the balance of strategic interests with adherence to climate change stands crucial. With the pandemic halting the world and creating political distractions, the shared interests of France and India to foster a resilient Indo-Pacific region remains mutual. The current pandemic has not only exposed a nation’s domestic, national, and international weaknesses but also has provided them with an opportunity to address the fragility.
The strategic partnership between France and India rests on shared interests and values of stable, rule-based, and multipolar order. Since the 1980s, France has displayed a greater understanding of India’s security compulsions and strategic interests. It has supported India’s claim for a permanent seat in the reformed United Nations Security Council and India’s candidature for the membership of multilateral export control regimes, namely Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australian Group (AG), and others.
In a space of hegemonic tendencies and unilateral temptations, creating balance in the Indo-Pacific region is vital. Given the region’s demographic diversity and energy weight, the global economy’s centre of gravity has shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This compels France and India to adopt a pragmatic resilience approach in meeting their strategic goals in the region. France has 93 percent of its exclusive economic zones in the Indo-Pacific region and is one of the stabilizing powers in the region. Both countries share a strong degree of comfort and are ambitious to create new coalitions to tackle shared challenges in the region. Indo-French cooperation in this geostrategic space can offer alternatives in ensuring regional stability coupled with India’s intent to ensure Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
The present deliberation directs towards strengthening and safeguarding three areas. Firstly, strengthening of organizational capacity to counter global threats and preserving the integrity of the alliance shared information landscape. Secondly, increased maritime and naval cooperation to strengthen asymmetric economic independence supported by oceanographic research. Developing tangible commercial and economic projects based on core principles of maritime security, infrastructure, and provision to climate change. Lastly, sustainable efforts to reciprocate Agence Francaise de developpement (AFD) to strengthen economic and ecological transitions across Asia like International Solar Alliance (ISA) which has been spearheaded by India. Furthermore, enhanced role in regional and sub-regional forums like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Pacific Community for furthering the development of renewed multilateralism.
As the world experiences geostrategic upheaval, the Indo-Pacific region also faces various challenges. Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain, French Ambassador to India, reiterated that in a space of hegemonic tendencies and unilateral temptations, fostering a reliable and an inclusive Indo-French partnership can create a balance in the region. This view was expressed in the session chaired by Dr. Mohan Kumar. Pragmatic resilience approach with a policy independent of both the US and China based on the reality of power and interests with adherence to norms can strengthen a supportive configuration of power and interest between the two countries. Therefore, the historical partnership holds the potential to create new coalitions, strengthening security, solidarity, independence, and strategic influence in the upcoming times.