World Bulletin / News Desk
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi starts a tour to promote Indian manufacturing with a visit to France on Thursday.
Modi will also be traveling to Germany and Canada in a bid to attract foreign investors for his "Make in India" campaign to promote India as a manufacturing hub.
“My France, Germany and Canada visit is centered around supporting India’s economic agenda and creating jobs for our youth,” Modi announced on Twitter last month.
“I am honoring long standing invitations from three of our most important partners, who have strong friendships with India,” Modi said.
Modi will spend three days in France and discuss a host of bilateral issues, including defense and economic cooperation. He is expected to visit "high-tech industrial units" outside Paris and the First World War memorial at Neuve Chapelle.
“India-EU free trade agreements, nuclear agreements and military deals should loom large over Modi’s agenda in France,” Pratinav Anil, a scholar on Europe and Asia at Sciences Po, Paris, told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
Modi is also likely to discuss thorny issues like the three-year-old Rafale fighter jet deal with Francois Hollande, which has stagnated over pricing and local assembly issues.
India has reportedly asked French company Dassault Aviation to stick to the original price of $12 billion to supply 126 Rafale planes. As part of the deal, India was to import 18 planes from France and manufacture the remaining 108 locally at Hindustan Aeronatics Limited, Bengaluru.
The cost has shot up to an estimated $20 billion to manufacture planes locally.
“As far as the Rafale deal is concerned, it is too early to tell. India’s foreign ministry tends to work in an ad-hoc fashion, relying on last minute improvisations,” Anil said.
He said it is a farfetched notion that India would spend $20 billion on a single deal, given that its military budget for 2015-16 is $40 billion.
“It is probable that the deal would dilute to a lower figure (for fewer aircraft, naturally), and the competition from Germany’s Eurofighter should be factored into the calculus as well,” he said.
India shares historic bilateral relations with France – a country which stood with India when the country conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
India’s defense cooperation with France also includes construction of six advanced submarines in India. Both the nations are in collaboration in the manufacturing and infrastructure and also have a civil nuclear energy co-operation agreement.
Modi will be in Germany from April 12-14 where Chancellor Merkel and he will jointly inaugurate Hannover Industrial Trade Fair on April 12, where India is a partner country.
India’s participation at the industrial trade fair will be on an “unprecedented scale” according to Modi.
“This gives India a special place in the trade fair and a high visibility to our business sector,” Modi said.
“Modi wants to show and prove to Indian masses that he is a man of development,” Mustafa Khan, a retired professor and political analyst told The Anadolu Agency.
“Modi would go to any corner of the world to keep the momentum of his development agenda,” Khan said, adding that the three-nation tour was part of Modi’s effort to promote his Make in India initiative to create jobs in the country.
Khan said Modi is keen to prove to his core constituency in India that he is quick to make and implement decisions.
Modi is keen to substantially raise German investments in India especially in the field of manufacturing, skill development, clean energy for which he will hold extensive talks with Merkel.
Anil reacted cautiously to the Make in India campaign, a pet project of Modi launched last year to boost India's economy, which has witnessed slowed growth in recent years.
“The reception to the Make in India campaign has at best been lukewarm,” Anil said.
“One would assume that the inherent protectionist interests within the Bharatiya Janata Party’s conservative structure (not to mention its industrialist patronage as well) would make Modi’s commitment to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rather superfluous,” he said.
Anil said that Indian economy is not in active need of investment at this point of time.
“The Indian Rupee is stronger than what the government or the industry would desire. Any further surge will strengthen the currency even more, jeopardising India’s exports,” Anil said. “India needs foreign technology more than it needs foreign capital,.”
In Canada, Modi is keen to resume civil nuclear energy co-operation for sourcing uranium fuel for India’s nuclear power plants.
Both the countries are also important partners in the field of manufacturing, infrastructure, education, skill, research, food security.
Modi is also keen to interact with the million-strong Indian Diaspora in Canada.
“Modi’s trips seem to be Diaspora-linked, given that his hunt for international legitimacy would only work best in countries where a significant Indian lobby exists,” Anil said.
Anil said India tends to place Europe lower on its list of priorities because the country’s foreign ministry does not take seriously the EU’s “pan-European institutionalism.”
“This explains his [Modi’s] American, Australian and Singaporean trips being prioritized over European ones,” he said.Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2015, 11:38