From October 9-12, 2023, India’s Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Ministry of Defence(MoD) was on an official visit to Rome, Italy and Paris, France, the details of which are as follows:
Highlights of Def Min’s Visit to Rome, Italy:
On October 9, 2023, Union Minister Rajnath Singh visited Rome, Italy. This visit was the first in over 20 years by an Indian Defence Minister to Italy. He was received by the Indian Ambassador to Italy Dr Neena Malhotra and Italy’s Minister of Defence Guido Crosetto at Ciampino Airport, Rome. He was also given Guard of Honour at Villa Madama in Rome.
India-Rome Defence Minister’s Meet
India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with his Italian counterpart i.e. Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto in Rome. During the meet, discussions were held on defence cooperation issues, including training, sharing of information, maritime exercises and maritime security.
i.Both sides discussed synergy between India and Italy in defense capabilities and explored joint development opportunities.
ii.India proposed enhancing collaboration between Indian startups and Italian defense firms.
India-Italy signed agreement on Defence cooperation
After the meeting, a defence cooperation agreement was signed between India and Italy to promote bilateral cooperation in areas such as security and defence policy, Research and Development (R&D), education in military field, maritime domain awareness, sharing of defence information and industrial cooperation, including co-development, co-production & setting up of joint ventures (JVs).
i.It should be noted that Italy aims to boost defense collaborations in India after the lifting of a ban on its major defense manufacturer, Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica), linked to the AgustaWestland VVIP (Very Very Important Person) helicopter scandal. The company is actively participating in competitive bids for defense contracts in India.
ii.The relationship between India and Italy was elevated to strategic partnership in March 2023 during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to India.
On October 10, 2023, he also met CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) and other top industry leaders of 24 Italian defence companies in Rome to discuss potential opportunities for industrial cooperation.
Tribute to ‘VC Yeshwant Ghadge Sundial Memorial’
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited ‘VC Yeshwant Ghadge Sundial Memorial’ in Montone, Perugia province of Italy and paid tributes to Naik Yeshwant Ghadge (23) and other Indian soldiers who fought in the Italian Campaign in World War II.
- This memorial was opened in July 2023.
- The Italian Campaign refers to the two-year campaign (1943-1945) by the Great Britain, the US (United States) and the Soviet Union to liberate Italy from German occupation.
i.Naik Yeshwant Ghadge was posthumously awarded Victoria Cross (VC), the United Kingdom’s (UK) highest military decoration, for his heroism in the Italian campaign. He was killed during the fighting in upper Tiber Valley, Italy on July 1, 1944.
ii.He was born on 16 November 1921 and served in the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry in the British Indian Army during World War II.
iii.More than 50,000 Indian soldiers took part in the Italian campaign, of whom around 5,700 were killed in action and are commemorated in various cemeteries across Italy,
- The soldiers were part of the 4th, 8th and 10th Divisions of the British Commonwealth forces that fought against Germany, Italy and Japan.
Highlights of Def Min’s Visit to Paris, France:
On October 10, 2023, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Paris, France. He received Guard of Honour at the French Ministry of Defence.
5th Annual Defence Dialogue:
On October 11, 2023, Union Minister Rajnath Singh conducted the 5th Annual Defence Dialogue with French Minister of Armed Forces Mr Sebastien Lecornu in Paris.
i.They discussed regional assessment, ongoing military engagements, and emphasized enhancing defense industrial cooperation.
ii.They also reviewed current defense projects, explored ways to deepen collaboration between defense industries, and discussed potential partnerships in space, cyber, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) domains.
i.Union Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Safran Engine Division’s R&D Centre at Gennevilliers near Paris and witnessed the latest developments in aero-engine technology.
ii.He also met with the CEOs of the top French defence companies with a focus on their plans for collaboration with India
- Indian side highlighted the advantages of co-development and co-production in India, including possibilities of exports to third countries.
iii.He interacted with the Indian community there.
i.France, a significant defense ally for India, recently secured major deals, such as manufacturing three Scorpene class submarines with indigenous Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) at Mazgaon Dockyards in collaboration with France’s Naval Group.
ii.India is also in advanced talks to acquire 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets from Dassault for its aircraft carrier, INS (Indian Naval Ship) Vikrant.
Recent Related News:
i.On 27th March 2023, to mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statue that founded the by International Criminal Court (ICC),the British Embassy in Rome, Italy in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Justice and the Netherlands Embassy in Rome, Italy organised a celebratory event.
ii.In view of the uptick in defence industrial collaborations between the two countries, India is setting up a Technical Office of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at its Embassy in Paris.
President– Emmanuel Macron