Prime Minister Narendra Modi today received a boost to his ‘Make in India’ initiative when aircraft manufacturer Airbus disclosed plans to raise its Indian outsourcing to USD 2 billion and its keenness to manufacture in India.
On day two his France visit, he became the first Prime Minister to visit the World War I memorial in the northern city of Lille to pay homage to 10,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting Germany alongside France in the war between 1914-18.
Laying a wreath at the martyr’s memorial, the Prime Minister spent about 50 minutes as several Indians gathered raised ‘Vande Matram’ slogans.
Accompanied by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Modi arrived here in Air India One and went straight to the facility of Airbus, one of the two major global manufacturers of aircraft and too a tour of the plant.
“We are honoured to host Prime Minister Modi in Toulouse and convey to him our desire to forge a stronger industrial bond with India. India already takes a centre-stage role in our international activities and we want to even increase its contribution to our products,” said Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders, who received the Indian leader.
“We support Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ call and (we) are ready to manufacture in India, for India and the world,” he added.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted, “500 per cent increase in 5 years. @Airbus to PM @narendramodi: Indian outsourcing to increase from USD 400 mil to USD 2 billion.”
In India, Airbus Group already operates two engineering centres – one focused on civil aviation and the other one defence – besides, a research and technology (R&T) centre which together employ over 400 highly qualified people.
The group’s senior representative conveyed their decision to expand these centres so that they can take on comprehensive design responsibilities for future Airbus group programmes.
Prime Minister Modi was given a tour of the Airbus A380 final assembly line. Currently, four A380 flights serve India daily.
“Much larger markets are waiting to be tapped, the potential for A380 to help Indian carriers win greater multinational market share with a flagship aircraft is enormous,” an Airbus press release said.
The group is willing to set up final assembly lines and establish supply chains and related infrastructure for military transport aircraft and helicopters in India, the press release said.
After the tour of the memorial accompanied by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Dian, Modi wrote his thoughts in the visitors’ book hailing the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers.
“Either being slain you will attain the heavenly world or by gaining victory you will enjoy the earth. I am honoured to pay homage to the Indian soldiers here at the Indian memorial at Neuve-Chapelle,” he wrote in the visitors’ book.
“Our soldiers who fought in foreign lands in the great war, have won the admiration of the world for dedication, loyalty, courage and sacrifice. I salute them.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the commonwealth war graves commission for the excellent care and maintenance of this monument dedicated to Indian soldiers. I also thank the government of France for the conduct of this solemn ceremony,” he wrote.
“At Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, remembered the courage & sacrifice of Indian soldiers martyred in World War I,” Modi said in a tweet.
“Remembering the services of the brave. PM @narendramodi at the Neuve Chapelle Memorial for Indian soldiers,” tweeted Akbaruddin.
Modi also visited the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) where he clicked a selfie with Indian students who gathered around him.
“Took selfies with young friends at CNES. We were all trying to take the best selfie out there,” Modi tweeted.
Many students chanted “Modi, Modi” when he arrived.
“The young usually want selfies. PM @narendramodi obliges Indian students gathered at French Space Agency(CNES),” Akbaruddin tweeted.