NEW DELHI: In order to boost the student exchange programme, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Wednesday said her country targets to enrol 20,000 Indian students in higher institutions by 2025. Addressing Lady Shri Ram College students here, she said, "People-to-people contacts are essential... We want 20,000 Indian students in France by 2025.
We're starting from something close to 5000... it is very ambitious but between India and France, the sky is the limit." Recognizing the benefit of bilateral student mobility, France maintains the objective of 20,000 Indian students by 2025 which will create opportunities for new businesses, start-ups and innovation between the two countries.
"Our business schools are highly ranked. We are working hard for skill development," she added. In her first official visit to India, Colonna stressed the mobility of students between the two nations and said that "people to people is key to a strong relationship."
India and France are fully committed to pursuing the implementation of the Partnership Agreement on Migration and Mobility, which entered into force on October 1, 2021.
During his final leg of his 3-nation tour to Europe in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, where the two leaders discussed ways to jointly increase the mobility of students, professionals and skilled workers while strengthening their efforts to combat irregular migration between the two countries.
Highlighting the strong bonds between India and France she said, "Our partnership for decades is not only strategic but also binds our hearts and mind. The sky is the limit for India and French relationship."
Talking about gender equality, the French Foreign Minister said, "On the international stage, France has taken measures to make a commitment into action. We adopted an international strategy for gender equality."
"We adopted an International Strategy on Gender Equality (2018-2022) which covers all of France's external actions. This strategy also aims at promoting a stronger institutional culture of gender equality and the consideration of gender issues within the Ministry and its agencies.
We are assessing this strategy and drafting a new one that will be launched in 2023." She also highlighted that her country has organized the Generation Equality Forum in 2021 with Mexico and UN Women. Besides, President Emmanuel Macron launched a Support Fund for Feminist Organizations of the Global South.
Also, French law makes it mandatory to ensure that 75 per cent of the projects funded by France's official development assistance helps to promote gender equality by 2025.
Underscoring the 75th anniversary of Indo-French diplomatic relations, she said, "We will be celebrating 25 years of India-France strategic relationship next year (In 1998, India and France entered into Strategic Partnership). We are strong and reliable partners. My President Emmanuel Macron will be so happy to be back in India to attend the strategic partnership anniversary."
Colonna is visiting India from September 14-15 and she aims to move forward with an ambitious agenda to deepen and expand the Indo-French strategic partnership ahead of its 25th anniversary next year.
The visit also demonstrates France's unwavering commitment to the Indo-Pacific and determination to work with India to find common solutions to global disorders.
As per the official statement, Minister Colonna will pay a call on PM Modi on September 14, Hon'ble Prime Minister of India and will convey France's full support to India's upcoming G20 presidency following which she will exchange dialogue with EAM Jaishankar on regional and global subjects of common interest, and coordination on issues under consideration at the United Nations Security Council, which France is currently chairing.
Moreover, the French Foreign Affairs Minister will also meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval for discussions on regional and global security issues, strengthened defence cooperation, as well as the implementation of France's counter-terrorism cooperation with India, which is hosting the "No Money for Terror" conference this year.
As part of the visit, Colonna will travel to Mumbai for engagements with industry leaders and site visits on September 15.