French President Francois Hollande’s historic three day was notable for remarkable deepening of India-France relations. This was the fifth time that a French president graced the republic day celebrations. Unlike most western countries France didn’t distance itself from India after the latter conducted nuclear tests in May 99 rather it understood India’s genuine concerns with regards to its hostile neighbors.

What is noteworthy here is that France was recently attacked by terrorists and Narendra Modi, by inviting Francois Hollande has signaled in unequivocal terms that India not only speaks against terror but would also stand with the victims of terror. The much talked about Rafael deal was also discussed in the meetings between the two leaders. The INSA (International Solar Alliance) was also discussed in the meetings. It’s a grand plan to tackle the energy shortage and the growing climate change menace.

Modi said India was looking forward to tap into French expertise in defense production, developing railways and waterways, and fighting global warming and terrorism. Developing waterways efficiently would help in fighting the fuel shortage and wastage, also it is more environment friendly. Developing coastal shipping also features prominently among Narendra Modi’s plans to give a fillip to trade in the coastal states like Orissa where there is much potential for further growth.

The French made Mirage 2000 were very instrumental in Kargil conflict where Indian soldiers once again proved that Pakistan would not succeed in its nefarious designs. India needs Rafael fighter jets at the earliest to give teeth to its air defense. It is understood that the technical part of the deal with regards to the technical specifications has been finalized. Keeping in mind the high altitude warfare in the Himalayas like at the time of Kargil, India desperately needs fighter jets capable of fighting at those heights. Rafael jets are well suited for our needs as per the technical experts.

Also the decision to purchase 36 Rafael jets as of now, also appears to be a good decision as the world has already moved on to the fifth generation jet. India is discussing prospects of jointly developing a fifth generation jet with Russia. Should that go on to become a reality, it is bound to be a great success like Brahmos supersonic missile.

Under Narendra Modi’s farsighted leadership India’s foreign policy has been integrating defense, commerce and other important issues like climate change very well. Hollande was accompanied by the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, economy and culture and many top corporate leaders.

Narendra Modi is being targeted a lot by his detractors for his foreign tours. One such detractors questioned the rationale of Narendra Modi giving 1 billion dollar line of credit to Mongolia. Perhaps he is not aware of Mongolia’s geography, both natural and the geo-politics of the region. India has strengthened its ties in China’s neighborhood. Just as we don’t like Chinese presence (for obvious reasons) in our immediate neighborhood, they also would not like when we approach their neighbors.

These detractors are either blind or pretending to be blind in seeing the fruits of these foreign visits which have not only elevated India’s stature in the world but also preparing the ground for our future role.

India under Narendra Modi will not punch below its weight anymore. A pragmatist that he is known to be, he is giving more strategic depth to our foreign policy. India needs better relations with the western countries. The idealist approach of Nehru didn’t help us much in war against China. A well-known American war once said that “you may not have interest in war but the war may have interest in you”.

For a country as big as India, we are ought to play a bigger role in world and the world in general also desires so. That would not come by if we don’t act strategically and play our cards well. We do need the technology and foreign investment which need from our allies. That’s what his foreign tours are bringing to India.

It’s not just about defense and energy but it’s about the commoners as well, the people of India. One of the major planks in our ties with Israel is water management and technology for arid regions which is for the benefit of our dry farming and rain fed regions. The recently announced crop insurance schemes, the social security schemes are proof enough that Narendra Modi has firmly kept his eyes on the welfare of Indian people as well as much as our defense and economy.

Narendra Modi has actively campaigned as the torch bearer of the Indian development story. His detractors may pretend to be blind to the visible rise in India’s stature in the world but we are not. Indians, both in India and abroad want India to become more influential in the world affairs and that is what Modi is doing.

Contributor: Sachin Diwaker