The financial aid figured during Macron’s last telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also focused on collaboration in the fight against the Coronavirus, French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said on Saturday.
“President Macron confirmed that France would grant exceptional financial aid for protecting the most vulnerable people in India,” Lenain said.
People familiar with developments said further details about the aid programme are expected to be presented at the end of April.
Lenain said the political authorities of the two countries have been working closely together from the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis. “It’s during tough times that the full significance of our partnership comes to the fore,” he said.
Macron and Modi had a “long telephonic meeting” on March 31 and “fixed the areas of collaboration, discussed best practices, shared the latest information, particularly on research on a vaccine, and coordinated their international initiatives”, the envoy said.
The foreign ministers of India and France regularly discuss the global situation and “that of our two countries in the face of this pandemic”, he added.
The cooperation at all levels between the two countries amid the Covid-19 crisis facilitated the return of more than 2,200 travellers to France since the suspension of international flights, Lenain said.
“These high-level discussions were backed by work on the ground for repatriating French citizens visiting India. Within a few weeks, thanks to the excellent cooperation of India’s central and local authorities, we were able to organise the departure of French travellers from Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai,” he said.
“But to reach these cities, we first chartered buses to bring them from Pushkar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Manali, Mandi, Amritsar, Varanasi, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Cochin, Hyderabad and Trivandrum,” he added, giving details of the major logistical exercise involved in repatriating French citizens.
India has so far facilitated the return of some 35,000 foreign nationals from 48 countries who were stranded in the country due to travel restrictions.
France is also among the more than 50 countries for which India has cleared supplies of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, described by some as key to treating Covid-19 cases. These countries will be provided the dug either through commercial sales or grants.