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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 51, December 11, 2010

Productive Outcome of Sarkozy Visit


Sunday 12 December 2010, by SC


While the 2G spectrum scam takes a new turn with the CBI carrying out nationwide raids on several premises including those of disgraced erstwhile Telecom Minister A. Raja and his close associates among officials and businessmen more than a year after it filed an FIR in that regard, terror has revisited Varanasi with the December 7 blast leaving a one-year-old girl dead and 35 injured (among whom are four foreigners), and the outlawed terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) claiming responsibility for the attack in retaliation of the demolition of Babri Masjid whose eighteenth anniversary fell a day before. Characteristically the Union and State governments have once again resorted to the usual blame game with the Union Home Minister affirming that the Centre had sent specific warning to the UP Police about a possible attack and the UP CM stoutly denying any security lapse on the part of her State. Regardless of whosoever is to be blamed for this specific incident, Varanasi has once more highlighted the urgency of streamlining the country’s security set-up.

Meanwhile French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to India has registered considerable success heightened by the signing of the Framework Agreement (by the French nuclear firm Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) for the construction of the first two of the proposed six French nuclear reactors in Maharashtra at a cost of $ 9 billion. Even if some issues—relating to New Delhi’s safety and cost concerns over the reactors and Paris’ distinct reservations about the civilian nuclear liability legislation recently passed by Parliament—have yet to be sorted out, the conclusion of the agreement is in itself a step in the direction of materialisation of French assistance in the nuclear field. This is of no mean significance. But no less important has been the reiteration of French support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council that was predictably warmly welcomed here. Sarkozy’s readiness to work together with India on Afghanistan, terrorism and climate change as also his unambiguous call to Islamabad to liquidate the jehadi safe havens on Pakistani soil were quite striking as was his emphasis on bilateral cooperation in G-20 (currently headed by himself) to rebalance the global economy. The contours of Indo-French collaboration in defence were also brought out with Sarkozy pitching for the Rafale fighter aircraft and giving impetus to the accord to upgrade the IAF’s Mirage fleet.

However, economic ties are still lacking in depth. Hence the agreement to enhance investment on both sides while promising to increase trade to 12 billion euros by 2012.

Overall the Sarkozy visit to India along with his wife Carla Bruni has doubtless raised Indo-French relations to a higher level while reinforcing and widening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. Needless to underline, his trip and talks with PM Manmohan Singh have been substantially productive.

December 9 S.C.

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