Source: Economic Times

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi touches down at the Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday evening, there is an air of anticipation among French and German policy-makers mainly because of their stalling economies and the vast potential a resurgent India offers.

The level of anticipation is unlike that evident during previous Indian prime ministerial visits. There is much pressure on French President Francois Hollande — recently bruised in local elections — and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to strike major economic deals with India.

A host of memoranda of understanding are due to be signed as Modi arrives on his four-day visit with economy as the main focus, but includes key engagements on issues related to defence, smart cities, Unesco, Diaspora and honouring the memory of Indian soldiers who died in Neuve Chappele during World War I.

Publicity related to the ‘Make in India’ campaign has been well noted in France and Germany, though new French and German investors would like to see more delivery on issues related to tax and speedier procedural steps in doing business.

Referring to the talks related to French nuclear engineering firm Areva’s project in Jaitapur and the Rafale contract, JeanLuc Racine, senior fellow in the Centre for South Asian Studies, told HT: “On the whole, BJP or not BJP, the two emblematic cases of Areva and Rafale do testify that major contracts with India, including with transfer of key technologies, are a (very) long run process, whatever be the official discourse about facilitating FDI”.

Subrata Mitra of the University of Heidelberg said: “The German visit will be more concerned with the economy, economic collaborations and terms of trade than cultural (the status of the German language in Indian universities/schools) or religion (attack on Christians)”.

A rare diaspora-related event has been planned during Modi’s stay in Paris, when he is due to address people of Indian origin simultaneously across continents residing in the five French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana (south America), Reunion and Mayotte.