aj Chengappa: This is going to be your first visit to India as head of state. You have been there before as a banker. What are your impressions about the country?
Emmanuel Macron: This is my very first visit as president, and I am very happy to come and visit you, following the invitation of Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi when he came to Paris in June . We had a wonderful meeting, a wonderful and very friendly discussion, and he told me-come to India. So now, I come. But I remember my very first visit as a banker, and I was very impressed, especially in Bangalore, by the energy of the people, and I have this memory of a number of young and bright people, especially in the tech companies. That’s very, very impressive, and I will be accompanied [during this visit] by a lot of French CEOs and French startups working on a day-to-day basis with Indian startups and entrepreneurs or being one of their main employers in India. So, I mean, we have these links through our youth and this entrepreneurship.
RC: You mentioned Prime Minister Modi, and there is an age gap of something like 27 years between both of you. Yet, you apparently got along very well when you met the first time in this very office in June 2017. What is the chemistry you share with Mr Modi?
Macron: Look, I think you can have chemistry even if you are not part of the same generation, and my private life is probably one of the best illustrations of this kind of chemistry. I was very impressed by Prime Minister Modi’s vision, especially his strong commitment to [reversing] climate [change], and we will deliver a part of this agenda together in India, especially with the International Solar Alliance. But I think the chemistry is due to the fact that he is a very wise man with a personal philosophy and taste for independence. And he is very attached to the sovereignty of your country as I am to the sovereignty of my country. I think that’s a mix of personal background with a difference of cultures and civilisation, but some common features and common key elements in terms of political philosophy-sovereignty, global issues, climate and this strong commitment to young people.
RC: France and India are partners in the International Solar Alliance. But soon after President [Donald] Trump took over, he decided that the US wouldn’t be part of the 2015 Paris climate change deal. Though you’d spoken brave words at that time and said ‘let’s make our planet great again’, isn’t it a very serious setback?