India and France have been actively working together to solve various sustainability issues from renewable energy generation to the blue economy and biodiversity conservation. There is so much more to do bilaterally with climate finance and urban sustainability, and multilaterally with the G20. All the ingredients are in place for a robust climate partnership.
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The Anglo-French commercial treaty of 1860 opened trade between France and Bombay, and brought two iconic French companies – a shipping line and the city’s first European bank. Bombay’s affluent residents were already familiar with French fashion, luxury goods, wines and liqueurs.
India and France have common interests bilaterally and multilaterally, and these are increasingly forging together. India must now step up its commitments to trade, technology and defence, all areas where France has an expertise and can make a greater contribution as India’s old allies like Russia become vulnerable.
Three hundred years ago, the Anglo-French rivalry in Europe spilled over to India, and threatened the dissolution of the powerful Bombay Presidency. Three centuries later, India and France are in a different place, with economic ties blossoming and the bilateral upgrading in 1998 into a strategic relationship. The speed with which this has scaled up reflects the deep familiarity between the two nations rooted in colonial history.
A shift is taking place in the business of global dominance and hegemony, from the model of expressing force through troop presence to financial sanctions. But China and Russia, in concert, may provide a way out of the sanctions regime.
The crisis in Ukraine has highlighted the role of both Russia and the West in sophisticated hybrid warfare and disinformation campaigns. The aim is to create a multiplicity of narratives, which fragment the understanding of the opponent. The mind battles are on.
Financial intermediaries are critical lubricants for business, growth and development. The Indo-Pacific countries are industrializing, but smaller nations lag behind economically. The Quad countries can aid the advancement of the financial architecture in the Indo-Pacific by helping to develop an ecosystem, modelled on the examples of Japan and India.
The Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, held in Melbourne on February 11, revealed an ambitious plan for economic and developmental affairs, beyond the security concerns posed by China. Despite differing approaches towards Myanmar and Ukraine, the Quad countries are strengthening their cooperation while maintaining strategic autonomy.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics came to a close on 20 February. It was marked by Covid restrictions, athlete dramas, and a united diplomatic boycott by Western democracies citing human rights concerns in Xinjiang, a boycott India later joined for Galwan-related issues. In contrast with the unity presented by China and Russia with summit meetings in the lead up to the Olympics, shifting alliances are now the norm.
The Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting held on February 11 is the latest example of growing geopolitical cooperation. Several loci of power have emerged, indicating the end of the post-Cold War western hegemony. China's rise and alliance with Russia hints at a bipolar tendency in this nascent global multipolarity. India must ensure power distribution in Asia by sharpening its diplomacy to achieve its own interest - true multipolarity in Asia.