Modi welcomed the bilateral agreements finalized in defense, digital technology visas, and other sectors during his trip. France is an important partner in Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Prime Minister Modi said on July 14 in a joint press briefing with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Indian leader who was on a state visit to France thanked Macron for his cooperation and hospitality during the visit.
Sharing the outcomes of his visit, Modi said that both countries have agreed on the importance of enhancing cooperation in diverse fields such as renewable energy, artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors, and digital technology. He welcomed the agreement signed between Indian Oil and France’s Total for export of LNG and the agreement to launch India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in France.
Hailing France as a natural partner in India’s developmental journey, the PM said, “We are celebrating 25 years of our strategic partnership. We are making a roadmap for the next 25 years on the basis of the strong foundation of the previous 25 years.”
In his address, President Macron mentioned the agreement on visa regulations. “We will work on our visa policies so that more students from India can study in France,” he said adding “By 2030, we want to send 30,000 French students to India.” PM Modi reiterated that all conflicts should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. “India and France have a special responsibility to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said and highlighted that both countries are working together for peace and believe that stringent measures should be taken to counter cross-border terrorism.
Further, the PM highlighted the strong people-to-people ties that bind India and France. He welcomed the decision to set up a new Indian consulate in Marseille and France joining as a partner for the upcoming National Museum in New Delhi. Concluding his address, Modi extended his best wishes to the President for the 2024 Paris Olympics and invited him to attend the G20 summit in India.
While in Paris, PM Modi met with Leena Nair, the global CEO of fashion brand Chanel, Thomas Pesquet, a French aerospace engineer, pilot, European Space Agency astronaut and actor and Charlotte Chopin, renowned French yoga teacher. He invited Nair and Pesquet to explore investment opportunities and collaboration potential in India in the area of their expertise.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the strong “people-to-people connect” between India and France during his hour-long speech to the Indian diaspora at the La Seine Musicale in Paris on July 13. “Wherever we go, we create a “mini-India”,” the Prime Minister said thanking the community for the warm welcome that made him feel like he is in India.
Sharing the importance of his visit Modi said that the world is moving towards a new world order. “Be it climate change, supply chains, counter-terrorism or counter-radicalism, the world is looking to India,” he maintained.
During his speech, the Indian leader made significant announcements, including the extension of India’s Unified Payment System (UPI) to France. “In the coming days, UPI will begin from the Eiffel Tower, which means Indian tourists will now be able to pay in rupees,” he said.
The move will simplify financial transactions for Indian travelers in France, eliminating the need to carry foreign currency or forex cards. France joins the UAE, Nepal, and Bhutan as countries that have already adopted India’s UPI.
The Prime Minister further announced that Indian students pursuing master’s degrees in France. will be granted a five-year post-study work visa, an increase from the previous two-year visa. “The last time I came to France, it was decided that Indian students studying here would be given a two-year post-study work visa. Now, it has been decided that Indian students pursuing a Master’s degree will be given a long-term study visa of five years,” he said amid loud applause.
In a move to strengthen diplomatic ties and facilitate services for the Indian community, Modi announced the opening of a new consulate in Marseille, France. Addressing concerns regarding the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, he informed the audience that the issues in Reunion Island have been resolved, and OCI cards are now being issued there. Similar efforts will be made in Martinique and Guadeloupe.
In his speech, the Prime Minister also urged the Indian community residing abroad to invest in India, which is rapidly progressing toward becoming a developed nation. He stated, “Today, every rating agency is saying that India is a bright spot. You invest in India now. This is the opportune time. Those who invest early will reap benefits.” He also invited the diaspora to visit India.
During his state visit to France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the country’s highest award by President Emmanuel Macron. With this honour, PM Modi becomes the first Indian state head to receive the highest French honour in military or civilian orders.
“It is with great humility that I accept the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. This is an honour for the 140 crore people of India. I thank President @EmmanuelMacron, the French Government and people for this gesture. It shows their deep affection towards India and resolve for furthering friendship with our nation,” Modi tweeted on receiving the honor.
President Macron said, “India and France are celebrating 25 years of strategic partnership made of trust and friendship, which are only getting stronger with time. “
The award ceremony took place at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where President Macron welcomed Modi and hosted a dinner in his honor, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. In the past, this highest honour has been received by few prominent leaders from across the world including former South African President Nelson Mandela and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel among others.