When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Modi On The Champs Élysées, Portrait Of Realpolitik (Circa 2023)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the guest of honor for the July 14-Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, a choice that has benefits and risks for both France and India, two medium-sized powers cultivating their relative independence.

photo of modi, macron and brigitte macron

Narendra Modi hosted by Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron

Gonzalo Fuentes /Pool/via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Paris on the Champs Élysées for France's July 14th Bastille Day celebrations. His presence and invitation by French President Emmanuel Macron would provide enough material to write an entire thesis, as the subject embodies all the facets and contradictions of our times.

The Indian leader is everything, all at once: the intolerant, "illiberal" Hindu nationalist, the bulwark against Chinese expansionism, the non-aligned figure of the global South in a changing world, from an emerging country with 1.5 billion inhabitants and unlimited economic opportunities.

Depending on which face you prefer, you may be shocked or delighted to see India and its Prime Minister in the VIP gallery in Paris on Friday, watching a parade of Indian soldiers who came for the occasion — a return of sorts, as Indian soldiers were present to help defend France during World War I.

Multi-faceted India

Clearly, France has opted for a close relationship with Modi's India, and this choice has both advantages and constraints.

A few months ago, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, head of the family-owned Indian conglomerate Tata attended the launch in Paris of a France-Asia Foundation, and in a few powerful words, praised India's strengths. We can do anything China can, he said — so you can do it with a friendly country, concluded the powerful CEO, who embodies the Indian economy better than anyone else.

France has one advantage in the eyes of Indians: it is not America.

This is obviously the big argument for India today: Apple has set up a second iPhone production line there, after its operations in China. The investments diverted from Beijing because of political risk are split up between several Asian countries, including India. Having fallen behind its great Chinese rival, India is trying to offer the same advantages, but not without some difficulty.

Macron's no-reservations welcome for Modi at the French presidential palace on Friday


Better to be close

But it is mainly on the diplomatic front that India is making its mark, with its "multi-alignment," a formula that means it can abstain on Ukraine at the UN, take part in the BRICS club with China, chair the G20 this year, and strengthen its ties with the U.S., including in arms and technology.

France has one advantage in the eyes of Indians: it is not America. As a result, New Delhi announced Thursday the purchase of 26 French-made Rafale fighter jets and three French submarines. Both Paris and Delhi benefit from this, as medium-sized powers cultivating their relative independence.

Modi has made himself essential.

But there's still the not-so-hidden face of Narendra Modi: it's not good to be a Muslim or a Christian in India under this Hindu nationalist. Opposition leader Rajiv Gandhi has been deprived of civil rights, and journalists and members of civil society are under pressure.

Of course, there are still elections to be held, and Modi's party may lose regions, as it recently did in Karnataka — but as India specialist Christophe Jaffrelot points out in the French daily Le Monde, "Between elections, democracy is literally put on hold."

So should France have close relations with India? Yes, of course. Was it necessary to offer Narendra Modi a VIP stand at France's Bastille Day ceremony? In the past, there have been guests on July 14th whose invitations were later cause for serious regret: including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

But in a world that has become dangerous again, the Indian Prime Minister has made himself essential — so essential that his dark side is forgotten.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

red tinted photo of feet on a bed

Parenting v. intimacy, a delicate balance

Silvana Heredia

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest