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France - Bastille Day

Indian soldiers join Bastille Day parade

Article published on the 2009-07-13 Latest update 2009-07-14 07:28 TU

Members of the Maratha Light Infantry(Photo: France 24)

Members of the Maratha Light Infantry
(Photo: France 24)

Indian soldiers, sailors and airmen will take part for the first time in Tuesday’s Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, where their Prime Minister is the guest of honour.

A 400-strong detachment, led by a section from the Maratha Light Infantry, one of the oldest regiments of the Indian army, will march down the Champs Elysées under the eyes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is the guest of honour.

"When the Indian soldiers will take part in the military parade in Paris on 14 July, it will remind the French of the sacrifice of the numerous Indian soldiers who were killed or maimed in France during World War I," said Jerome Bonnafont, the French ambassador to New Delhi.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will again host Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

(Photo: Reuters)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will again host Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
(Photo: Reuters)

The Maratha Light Infantry, from the Deccan and Konkan regions in the south-west of India, dates back to 1768.

During World War I, the regiment fought in Persia, Palestine, Afghanistan and Mesopotamia. In the World War II, it took part in campaigns in Europe, south-east Asia and north Africa, including the battles of Tobruk and Monte Cassino.

The invitation, which follows French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s presence at India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2008, marks another step in the ever-warming economic and military alliance between the two countries.

Military and armaments co-operation are a key element in those relations, according to Delhi correspondent Vikram Roy.

"Joint military exercises are very important, transfer of sophisticated armaments technology and now they are working on counter-mechanism to thwart international terrorism," he told RFI.

Q+A: Delhi correspondent Vikram Roy

13/07/2009 by Rosslyn Hyams

"Sharing of military expertise is a new field that's opening up, sharing of military hardware expertise, again because of India's blossoming armament industry that has developed here, joint development of value-added military technologies and hardware are some of the ten points that broadly encompases the Indo-French defence partnership."

French state-controlled group Areva has signed a draft accord for the sale of up to six nuclear reactors to India while Dassault Aviation is in the running for a possible 8.6 billion euros deal to supply 126 fighters to the Indian air force.

France is also waiting for Parliament's ratification of the India-France civilian nuclear agreement signed by Singh on his last visit to Paris in September 2008.

France has also called for the enlargement of the G8 to include India.

The parade is held to celebrate the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison in Paris by revolutionaries on 14 July 1789, the first action of the French revolution.