France-India relations

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

35th Infantry Regiment (35e régiment d'infanterie)

The Times of India, Jan 27 2016

Manimugdha Sharma

French regiment is `back' after 232 yrs

 As the 124-member French military contingent marched down Rajpath amid loud cheers, they became the first foreign soldiers to take part in the Republic Day parade. But here's a fascinating fact--the moment brought the French Army , Indian Army , Pakistan Army , Tipu Sultan and the Swedish monarchy on the same side of history for the first time. The French marching contingent included 76 personnel from the 35th Infantry Regiment of the French Army (35e régiment d'infanterie). This regiment had served in India from 1781 to 1784 in its previous avatar as the 35 Aquitaine Regiment.As part of the Franco-Mysore alliance, it took part in the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84), fought between the forces of the East India Company and the kingdom of Mysore under Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. The war ran parallel to the American Revolutionary War where the English were fighting their American colonies that were supported by the French.

During the war, Hyder Ali died and Tipu Sultan was forced to retreat to his capital in March when the Bombay Army invaded Mysore. The British decided to seize the opportunity to retake Cuddalore, which had been siezed by Hyder from them earlier. The English advanced on Cuddalore with 1600 European troops and 8,000 Indian troops and were joined by 1,000 cavalry of the Nawab of Arcot. Facing them were nearly 12,000 French and Indian troops, including 2,000 cavalry left behind by Tipu, under the command of Marquis de Bussy .

On June 25, 1783, the French tried to dislodge the British. At 3pm, the Aquitaine Regiment exchanged musket volleys with British and Indian troops and then conducted a bayonet charge. Facing this charge were Indian troops of the 24th Bengal Native Infantry and Madras Army . The charge was repulsed and the French withdrew with 450 men killed or wounded and 150 taken prisoners. Among those captured was Chevalier de Damas, who led the charge, and a young wounded soldier, Jean Baptiste de Bernadotte who later became a marshal in Napoleonic France and eventually became the king of Sweden. Interestingly , the House of Bernadotte still rules Sweden. Meanwhile, the gallant action of the Indians was acknowledged and praised in England. “It was held as equally singular and extraordinary that the 24th battalion of the Bengal Sepoys, with another belonging to Madras, fought some of the oldest and best troops of France with the bayonet, and foiled them at that favourite European weapon, which is supposed to be the most trying test of the firmness and excellence of soldiers. It will probably then afford no small satisfaction to many who read this narrative, to be in formed, that the general, in his address of thanks to the army , gave an assurance to those brave sepoys, that he would recommend their distinguished services to the governments of Bengal and Madras, that they , and their families, should be ever supported and rewarded according to their merit,“ reported the Annual Register of 1783 edited by none other than Edmund Burke.

The 24th Bengal Native Infantry later mutinied in 1857 and was disbanded, only to be re-raised in 1861. Today, it continues as the 6 Punjab Regiment of Pakistan Army .

The Aquitaine Regiment was withdrawn in 1784, while Mysore itself fell in 1799. Tipu's cavalry , which aided the French, later became the Mysore Lancers. After Independence, the Mysore, Gwalior and Jodhpur lancers were amalgamated into 61 Cavalry . On Tuesday , they marched immediately behind the French troops, as if it were a tribute to their former allies. Further back marched the brass band of the Madras Regimental Centre, the former nemesis of the French.

Summits

1998-2017

Kanwal Sibal , Deepening the French connection “India Today” 19/3/2018

October 1998, Paris

President Jacques Chirac-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Vajpayee's visit to France came just five months after the global opprobrium over India's nuclear tests in May 1998. France was the only western nation that didn't condemn the tests, endorsed India's right to test nuclear weapons and signed a strategic partnership

February 2006, New Delhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-President Jacques Chirac Chirac assures India of France's help in building a consensus in the 44-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on granting New Delhi access to nuclear fuel and technology for civilian use

September 2008, Paris

President Nicolas Sarkozy-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Singh visits Paris to sign a civil nuclear deal, making France the first country to open nuclear commerce with India in 34 years after the NSG waiver on September 6, 2008

December 2010, New Delhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-President Nicolas Sarkozy India signs a $10 billion deal to buy two nuclear reactors from France following talks between Manmohan Singh and Sarkozy. France supports India's entry into the NSG and a permanent membership for it in the UN Security Council

April 2015, Paris

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-President Francois Hollande France supports India's accession to the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. India signs an MoU with France for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets

June 2017, Paris

Prime Minister Modi-President Emmanuel Macron Both leaders endorse the 2015 Paris climate agreement and agree to convene a meeting of the world solar alliance and deepen counterterrorism cooperation

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