French President Emmanuel Macron to attend India's 75th Republic Day as chief guest

New Delhi has invited world leaders to take part in celebrations since 1950

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and France's President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 meeting in southern Germany in 2022. AFP
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French President Emmanuel Macron is to attend India's 75th Republic Day celebrations as chief guest.

He will become the sixth French leader to take part in the military and cultural event, that will be held in Delhi on Friday.

India has a long-standing custom of inviting leaders from other countries as a chief guest for its Republic Day – the day it celebrates the adoption of the constitution in 1950.

New Delhi and Paris have shared strategic ties since 1998.

This will be Mr Macron’s third visit to the South Asian nation. He last visited the capital for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September.

He was invited after US President Joe Biden reportedly declined the invite.

The delegation accompanying Mr Macron includes senior officials and chief executives.

The French President is scheduled to visit historical monuments including the regal 16th century Amer Palace, a Unesco World Heritage Site. He will then meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s External Affairs Ministry said.

Mr Macron will attend a parade in Delhi where a 95-member contingent from the French Foreign Legion and a 33-member band contingent from France will march down the Kartavya Path – the newly refurbished 3km boulevard connecting the President’s house to the India Gate.

Mr Modi was invited as a chief guest for the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris last year and witnessed a similar military parade.

India gained independence in 1947. The constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, and came into effect on January 26, 1950. The day was declared a national holiday.

Mr Macron expected to meet Indian business leaders and attend an event at President Droupadi Murmu’s residence.

Issues including digital collaboration, climate change, and green transitions are set to be on the agenda. The two are expected to make announcements in defence and strategic sectors, local media reported.

The leaders will reportedly finalise the deals on India procuring 26 Rafale Marine combat aircraft from France as well as outline steps on the construction of three submarines in India.

New Delhi had initiated the $6 billion deal with France for the acquisition of the aircraft last year.

It has already procured 36 Rafale jets from France for its Air Force.

The leaders are also expected to discuss the ways to hasten the construction of six nuclear power plants in Jaitapur in India’s western state of Maharashtra.

India is building six nuclear power plants of 1,650 Megawatts. It is also proposing the construction of the largest clean energy plant with a total capacity of 9,900MW of electricity, in partnership with France.

The project is stalled due to technical, financial and civil nuclear liability issues, according to the Indian government.

Nuclear energy is the fifth-largest source of electricity for India which currently has 22 nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 6,780MW in operation. A reactor of 700MW was connected to the grid in January last year.

The power plants aim to increase atomic power contribution from 3.2 per cent to 5 per cent by 2031 and are projected to bring 21,000 crores (US$2.8 billion) in revenue for the government. The project is expected to create 50,000 jobs, according to the government.

The two countries have taken considerable steps in their strategic partnership due to their shared interests in the Asia-Pacific region where New Delhi is aiming to restrict Chinese influence.

France is present in the region through its overseas territories, and 93 per cent of its exclusive economic zone is in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, according to the French government.

Updated: January 24, 2024, 1:40 PM