France’s centuries-old relations with India received another boost with the visit of the country’s President Emmanuel Macron to India in March 2018. The two nations share a strategic partnership, a key milestone established during the visit of President Jacques Chirac in 1998. It was, in fact, the signing of India’s first ever strategic partnership. During President Macron’s visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that even though the strategic partnership was only 20 years old, the “cultural and spiritual partnership is older.” Indeed, the spiritual partnership goes back to over a hundred years ago. That is when the highly spiritually elevated French national Mirra Alfassa—who later came to be known as The Mother—first came in touch with Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1914. She left in 1915 and returned in 1920, this time to stay back in India till the time of her passing away in November 1973. The two partnered to set up the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and a school that came to be known as Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.
During President Macron’s four-day visit to India along with his wife, First Lady Brigitte Macron, an Indo-French Centre of Excellence was inaugurated in Bengaluru. It aims to impart vocational training to engineers in electricity, automation, and energy management. Mr Modi and Mr Macron also inaugurated a 100 mw solar power plant in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, the largest of its kind in India’s most populous state. The generation of power at the plant, when commissioned, will begin with the first rays of the sun, and it will shut down at sunset every day. Nearly 150,000 households will benefit once the plant becomes operational. Also, a record number of MoUs were signed between universities and research institutions in both countries.
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