Indian fighter pilots trained in France flew the first five of 36 French Rafale fighter jets from France to the Ambala Air Base in Punjab close to Ladakh & the Pakistan border. India purchased the 36 jets built by Dassault Aviation in France in 2016 for USD $9.4 billion. Several charges were lodged & litigation filed in India over the corruption of Indian officials involved in Dassault’s choice of Indian company to partner with for future joint manufacturing. There were reports of delay in delivery due to the corona pandemic but Indian military officials put pressure on French military officials to ‘expedite’ Dassault after the conflict with Chinese forces in Ladakh & as part of saber-rattling against Pakistan over Kashmir.
Dassault is motivated by militarism & capitalist greed. But what are France’s motives in supporting Indian militarism against China, Pakistan, & Kashmir? On a state visit to India in May 2018, Macron reported that close to 1,000 French companies were presently investing in India. Bilateral trade was nearly USD $11 billion in 2017 & the two countries committed to increasing it to nearly $18 billion by 2022. As part of the EU, France is also attempting to revive the India-EU free trade agreement they’ve been negotiating since 2007 in the search for sweatshop labor.
According to Indian president Ram Noth Kovind who greeted Macron in 2018, France & India do not just have economic ties but also military, nuclear, maritime, counter-terrorism, & other interests all rooted in what is called the ‘military-industrial complex’. The entanglements between the two countries are complex but concern for human rights, especially in Kashmir, is not among them.
India will make a big splash about these fighter jets to warn China & Pakistan but also to intimidate Kashmiris. A BDS-type boycott of India may be absolutely necessary to weaken India’s threats.
(Photo of Macron & Modi from NDTV)