Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday received a boost to his 'Make in India' initiative, with aircraft manufacturer Airbus saying it was keen to manufacture in India and disclosing plans to raise its Indian outsourcing to $2 billion.
Accompanied by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Modi arrived here in Air India One and headed straight to the facility of Airbus, one of the two major global aircraft manufacturers, where he was taken on 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 in our international activities and we want to 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 are ready to manufacture in India, for India and the world," he added.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted, "500 per cent increase in 5 years. @Airbus to PM @narendramodi: Indian outsourcing to increase from $400 million to $2 billion."
In India, Airbus Group operates an engineering centre focused on civil aviation and another on defence, besides, a research and technology centre. The group's representatives conveyed their decision to expand these centres so that the company could take on comprehensive design responsibilities for Airbus group programmes.
The prime minister 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 the A380 to help Indian carriers win greater multinational market share with a flagship aircraft is enormous," said an Airbus release. The group was willing to set up final assembly lines, supply chains and related infrastructure for military transport aircraft and helicopters in India, the release added.
On the second day of his visit to France, Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit the World War I memorial in the northern city of Lille, where he paid homage to 10,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting Germany in 1914-18.
Laying a wreath at the martyr's memorial, Modi spent about 50 minutes, as several Indians present raised slogans of "Vande Mataram".
After the tour of the memorial, Modi wrote on the visitors' book, "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.
"I would like to express my gratitude to the Common-wealth 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."