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European Countries are keen to get increasing share of Indian Defence Market
France and Germany are taking more pragmatic approach in dealing with New Delhi


By Girish Linganna

China and Russia's aggressive actions against the West have caused problems, like conflicts over spy balloons, and have also led to NATO becoming stronger. One important result of this has been the West's effort to develop a closer relationship with . In June, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visited Washington and received a warm welcome from the White House, Congress, and leaders.

Europe has also been making efforts to strengthen its relationship with India. Recently, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, invited Narendra Modi for a state visit. In February, Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany, visited Delhi. Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister of Italy, also made a trip in March. After the Ukraine war started last year, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, visited India, accompanied by seven European foreign ministers. Ministers and officials from Hungary, Spain, and Nordic countries have also been visiting Delhi.

The US is trying to strengthen its relationship with India for two main reasons. Firstly, it wants to enhance its business connections with the fastest-growing major in the . Additionally, the US sees India as an important ally in its strategy for dealing with China. The US hopes that India can serve as an alternative manufacturing base as supply chains diversify away from China. Moreover, the US aims to reinforce security ties with India, as its relationship with China has been tense in recent years. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit in June, the two countries signed defense deals, including an agreement to manufacture jet engines in India. Importantly, President Joe Biden did not criticize Modi's government for its human rights record or the erosion of democratic norms.

Europe shares similar goals with the US in terms of boosting trade with India and reshaping supply chains. However, countering China is not as high of a priority for Europe. Instead, Europe is focused on getting other countries to oppose Russia's war in Ukraine. Additionally, Europe places greater emphasis on human rights compared to the US.

The Biden-Modi summit went well, but Europe faces three barriers in improving relations with India. One obstacle is that Europe does not take seriously what it considers to be small annoyances but greatly upsets India and its people. An example is the European Union's visa policies for its Schengen region. Europeans can easily get a visa to visit India, while Indians face numerous document requirements and the possibility of rejection when trying to go to Europe. This issue also affects Britain's efforts to establish a free-trade deal with India. The process should be simplified for business tourists.

One problem is that Europe wants India to publicly criticize Russia's invasion of Ukraine. European leaders have been calling for international support to stop the conflict, but India values its independence and believes it should maintain relationships with different countries, including Russia, without being influenced by their actions. This demand from Europe is not well received in India.

Europe's emphasis on human rights is another reason why they are struggling to gain India's support. The EU follows a foreign policy that is based on values, which can upset Indian officials who are defensive about outside criticism, particularly from Western nations whom they view as hypocritical. A recent resolution by the European Parliament that condemned India's handling of ethnic violence in Manipur, a state in north eastern India, received a strong backlash from India's foreign ministry. They firmly stated that it was an internal matter and that the EU should focus on its own affairs.
None of these challenges are impossible to overcome. One European leader, French President. Macron, seems to understand what motivates India. He avoids lecturing and supports India's pursuit of strategic independence, focusing on security cooperation. In July, Mr. Narendra Modi was a special guest at France's annual military parade, where they successfully impressed President Trump in 2017. Additionally, India's Defense Acquisitions Council approved deals worth $10 billion to buy 26 French Rafale jets and three Scorpène submarines. If other European countries genuinely want to strengthen ties with India, they might have to adopt Mr. Macron's approach.(IPA Service)

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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