French President Francois Hollande will on Sunday commence his three-day India visit from Chandigarh where he, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will attend a business summit and visit various landmarks.
Heavy security measures have been put in place in the city, where the two premiers will attend the India-France Business Summit. Also in attendance will be corporate leaders of the two nations. Accompanied by a high-level delegation, Hollande will land at around 1 pm in Chandigarh, which was designed by Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, also known as Le Corbusier, between 1950s and 1960s.
He will be accompanied by PM Modi during his visit to Rock Garden, Capitol Complex, and the government museum and art gallery. The two leaders will spend about 15 minutes at each of the three sites, before reaching a private hotel for the business meet, officials said.
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Later in the evening, Modi and Hollande will fly separately to Delhi. Hollande will, on Tuesday, attend the Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest and hold talks with Modi, during which ways to strengthen counter-terror cooperation in the aftermath of Paris and Pathankot terror strikes will figure prominently.
Hollande will be the fifth French leader to be a Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations — the maximum number from any country so far. Earlier, leaders from that country had graced the occasion in 1976, 1980, 1998 and 2008. Significantly, for the first time, French soldiers will march down the Rajpath on Republic Day along with Indian troops, a first for any foreign army.
During the visit, France is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chandigarh to help it develop as a smart city, official sources said. Last year, France had committed to help three Indian cities — Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry. Chandigarh is competing to make it to the list of first 20 cities to be picked by the Ministry of Urban Development for funding in the year 2016-17 under the Smart City project.
As per the schedule, Hollande is due to land at Chandigarh Airforce Station at 1 pm. He will then go to a private hotel. At about 2:25 pm, the French President will visit ‘Rock Garden’ where he will meet Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders are likely to spend about 15 minutes there.
The two leaders will then go to Capitol Complex at 2:55 pm. Described as the most spectacular work of French architect Le Corbusier, the Capitol Complex comprises the Legislative Assembly, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Secretariat. Thereafter, at 3:25 pm, Modi and Hollande are scheduled to visit the Government Museum and Art Gallery. The dignitaries will be shown fossil discovered from the Shivalik Hills jointly by French and Indian archeologists.
The two leaders will then attend a forum of select CEOs to be followed by the India-France Business Summit at a private hotel, as per the schedule.