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India-France relation is now geared towards the next quarter century, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached Paris on Thursday afternoon.

In an interview that he gave to Les Echos before commencing the journey to Paris, Mr. Modi made a strong pitch for the overhauling of the international political-economic architecture and described India as a bridge between the West and Global South.

Addressing the Indian diaspora at a community event in the evening at La Seine Musicale, the Prime Minister said that India and France are tackling many challenges of the 21st century.

22 single-seat fighters will join aircraft carriers and the remaining four will be twin-seater trainers; purchase of three more Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines from France also gets approval

Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to land in Paris on Thursday, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accorded approval for the procurement of 26 Rafale-M fighters, which will be operated off the aircraft carriers, and three additional Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines from France.

“The DAC granted acceptance of necessity [AoN] for procurement of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft, along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French government based on Inter-Governmental Agreement [IGA],” a Defence Ministry statement said. “The price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.”

Customisation clauses

Further, integration of Indian-designed equipment and establishment of a maintenance, repair and operations hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations, the Ministry said.

The DAC granted the AoN for procurement of three additional Scorpenes under the Buy (Indian) category. The submarines will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders. “The procurement of additional submarines, with a higher indigenous content, will not only help in maintaining required force level and operational readiness of the Indian Navy, but also create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector,” the statement said.

In addition, the DAC approved a proposal to lay down guidelines for achieving the desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases. This, the Ministry said, would help in achieving Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) in critical manufacturing technologies and lifecycle sustenance of defence platforms and equipment through indigenous manufacturing.

The 26 Rafale-M fighters will include 22 single-seater jets and four twin-seater trainers, defence officials said. However, the Rafale trainers are not carrier-compatible. In March, the Navy chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, said both Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M fighters met the requirements of the Navy and a selection between them was a government’s decision. Rafale-M, he said, had commonality with the Indian Air Force.

Russia, China have rejected language on Ukraine that G-7 nations insist on including; Amitabh Kant says it is at present being discussed ‘bilaterally’, not in full G-20 group; development, African Union membership were more important for India

With little movement on consensus between G-7 countries and Russia and China over a joint statement, India’s G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said on Thursday that the Ukraine war was not on India’s list of priorities for outcomes from its presidency of the grouping. Instead, India is focused on finalising the language of the “Leader’s Declaration” pertaining to economic and development issues, while leaving the “contentious” issues for later, he said.

Mr. Kant was speaking to presspersons at the start of the third meeting of the Sherpas — personal representatives of the heads of government, preparing for the summit — of the G-20 countries and special invitees, at the temple town of Hampi, in Karnataka.

“The Russia-Ukraine war is not our creation, or that of developing or emerging countries. It is not a priority for us…” Mr. Kant said. He listed India’s priorities as “development issues, growth, more financing from multilateral institutions, technological transformations and supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

He also said that language about the Ukraine war was at present being discussed “bilaterally”, and not in the full G-20 group. In the absence of a consensus on the statement to be released at the Delhi Summit, India may be forced — for the first time in G-20 history — to issue only a “Chairman’s Outcome Statement”, which would not be endorsed by other countries.

“Our priority is not war; it may be a priority for someone else. Which is why we will discuss this at the end. Whether we get a solution or not, that doesn’t reflect anything,” said Mr. Kant, indicating that India would seek successes in other spheres, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal for the African Union to be inducted as a member of the G-20 at the Delhi Summit, slated to be held on September 9 and 10.

The proposal to include the AU is one of the key changes in the “Revised Draft” text that was shared with the delegations on Thursday. According to sources, the “contentious” paragraphs referring to the Ukraine war have been held for the moment, and the focus of the document is on economic and multilateral initiatives.

G-20 Sherpas are meeting at Hampi for about 17 hours of talks over three days, officials said. While the last Sherpa meeting will be held just prior to the Summit in September, and the negotiations could continue until the very last minute, the present meeting will attempt to run possible compromise formulae past the various delegations to forge a consensus.

Talks had broken down in February after Russian and Chinese officials made it clear that they would not sign on to two paragraphs, referring to the war in Ukraine that were critical of Russia’s actions, that had been agreed to at the Bali Summit last year. As a result, most statements put out during the Indian presidency refer to the Russian and Chinese dissent on these paragraphs. G-7 countries — most notably the U.S., France, and Canada — have also made it clear that they will not sign on to a joint communique that does not contain the Bali Summit paragraphs.

Indian diplomats are working with their counterparts from each of the countries on possible options.

Chandrayaan-3 will lift off at 2.35 p.m.; the ISRO has completed all pre-launch activities and the 25.30-hour countdown commenced at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Thursday

India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, is all set to be launched at 2.35 p.m. on Friday.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has completed all pre-launch activities and the 25.30-hour countdown commenced on Thursday at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) will take off from the second launch pad of the space station in Sriharikota.

India will once again make an attempt to do a soft landing on the lunar surface for the second time, having failed in 2019 with the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

So far only three countries, the U.S., Russia and China, have successfully soft-landed on the moon.

After the LVM3 lifts off from the launch pad, the satellite separation will take place and the integrated module will be placed in an Elliptic Parking Orbit (EPO).

The Chandrayaan-3 consists of an indigenous propulsion module (PM), a lander module (LM) and a rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for inter-planetary missions. The PM will carry the lander and rover from injection orbit till the 100-km lunar orbit. It carries a Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planetary Earth payload to study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of earth from the lunar orbit.

“Chandrayaan-3 will start its journey after its launch on Friday; it will reach around earth, then will travel towards moon slowly over the next one month. If everything is all right, it will land on the moon on August 23,” ISRO Chairman S. Somnath said.

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