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As anticipation builds for the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India as the chief guest for Republic Day 2024, former Indian ambassador to France, Mohan Kumar, has taken to the skies with a groundbreaking proposition. In a recent interview, Kumar suggests that India shouldn’t just limit itself to manufacturing Rafale fighter jets for domestic needs, but set its sights even higher – becoming a global supplier of high-tech defense equipment.

This ambitious vision, if realized, would mark a pivotal leap forward for India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, transforming the nation from a defense importer to a formidable exporter. Kumar specifically identifies the promising markets of the UAE, Qatar, and Egypt as potential destinations for India-made Rafales, capitalizing on the region’s existing demand for advanced fighter jets.

While the economic implications of Kumar’s proposal are undeniable, he emphasizes the broader strategic significance of India’s defense partnership with France. He highlights the compatibility and reliability of French military equipment, citing the success of Rafale jets in Indian Air Force service as a prime example. He also underscores the importance of diversifying India’s defense procurement sources, reducing dependence on any single supplier and enhancing strategic autonomy.

President Macron’s upcoming visit to India is expected to further strengthen this strategic partnership. The two nations are expected to discuss a range of issues, including defense cooperation, counter-terrorism, and maritime security. The potential signing of additional defense deals, including for naval frigates and helicopters, could be a key outcome of the visit.

Transforming India into a global defense exporter will not be without its challenges. Building the necessary industrial infrastructure, establishing a robust supply chain, and ensuring quality control will be crucial steps. Additionally, navigating the complex geopolitical landscape of the international arms market will require deft diplomatic maneuvering.

However, the potential rewards are equally significant. Becoming a major defense exporter would not only boost India’s economic and technological prowess but also enhance its strategic influence on the world stage. Kumar’s proposition serves as a timely reminder that India has the potential to soar high in the defense sector, and with the right strategy and unwavering commitment, the skies are the limit.

In conclusion, Former Ambassador Mohan Kumar’s proposal to leverage the Rafale program for global defense exports presents a bold and exciting opportunity for India. If successfully implemented, it could propel India to new heights in the ‘Make in India’ initiative and solidify its position as a leading player in the international defense market. President Macron’s upcoming visit provides a valuable platform to further strengthen the strategic partnership between India and France, paving the way for a future where both nations soar together on the wings of defense cooperation.

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