“India and France’s strategic partnership is solid and growing. At the heart of this relationship lies human relations. That is what we will nurture together”

Dear friends of France,

Arriving in Delhi is a promise of wonderful discoveries and encounters. I am delighted to join the team of the Institut Français India and look forward to further developing the numerous initiatives launched by my predecessor Dr. Bertrand de Hartingh. I am impressed by the number and diversity of individuals and organizations who contribute to the development of cultural and scientific exchanges and can’t wait to connect and dialogue.

The global health crisis obliges us to rethink the way we work and interact. It is very frustrating to be limited in the way we would like to visit you and host you, and we share the pain of the many artists who rely on a physical platform to perform. However, we can also find new opportunities in these challenging times. I am glad to see, for example, that the Alliances Françaises and French schools successfully moved most of their activities online. We are keen to work on these experiences to reach out to new audiences outside the cities where we are present.

We are very proud to be the first country to reopen its borders to international students and scholars. I convey my best wishes to all those who will join a French campus or research lab this fall. France, the world’s fourth-largest destination for international students, will be happy to welcome you whether you follow a curriculum in our language or in one of the 1,600 English programmes. Most of our universities are organized with a mix of online and on-campus classes. Newly admitted students can follow classes online until they get their visa for France.

We have many exciting events ready to kick off and news to share:

  • virtual “PhD Tour” is being organized from 21-25 September to allow researchers to interact with representatives of French universities in different fields of research. During this series of 10 thematic webinars, you will have the possibility to meet with alumni and ask questions regarding visas and scholarships. Coming soon in its wake will be our first ever virtual Choose France tour wherein you will be able to interact with around 40 institutions from France about an entire range of higher studies programmes.

  • To celebrate of the 80th year of Alliance française in Bengal, East India, Alliance française du Bengale, in collaboration with Institut français in India and Bingsha Shatabdi will host an online talk show with Karthika Nair, Joëlle Jolivet and Bijal Vachharajani on 25th September.
  • Come October, and you will be treated to an exclusive screening of the film Petit Pays (Small Country) which takes you through a touching childhood, set during the ethnic conflict in Rwanda. Adapted from the book by Gaël Faye, it will be followed by a discussion with the author.
  • We will also have the pleasure to launch the Tamil translation of Erik Orsenna’s book Pasteur: la vie, la mort, la vie. On this occasion we will host a discusstion between Erik Orsenna, Srini V. Kaveri (Director, CNRS office in India), Jaya Bhattacharji Rose (journalist), Amutharasan Paulraj (publisher).
  • In November we will celebrate the International French Teacher’s Day by hosting the annual Congress of the Indian Association of Teachers of French (IATF), organized in partnership with the Institut Français and the network of Alliances Françaises in India from November 26th to 28th.
  • The annexe of the French Institute India in Jaipur, IFI Jaipur, is standing firm on its own and has just signed 4 MoUs with top institutions in the State. It will soon commence the University Partners’ Programme from 16 September with BITS Pilani and IICD.

  • series on French travelers and photographers in India is in the making and their stories and images will travel to you soon.
  • And we of course look forward to the much-awaited Paris Book Fair next March wherein around 40 Indian authors will participate with their works published in many different languages. Incidentally, this was the first event that we called off on March 1st when the pandemic struck. So the wait has indeed been long!

As the situation evolves, we will continue the Indo-French dialogue, online, offline, on air. Follow more at http://ifindia.in/all-events/

I will be happy to hear from you on your experience with these programmes and the virtual option in general. How have you been part of the arts during these last months?

I take this opportunity to also welcome other incoming team members including our Deputy Counsellor for Education, Science and Culture Mr Nicolas Gherardi, our Cultural Attaché Ms Isabelle Rias-Vierget, our Attaché for Innovation & Multimedia Ms Juliette Grandmont, our Education and Linguistic Attaché Ms Fatiha Kammoussi and our Attaché in Bangalore for University and Scientific Cooperation Mr François-Xavier Mortreuil. I am sure you will connect with them in one way or the other in the weeks and months ahead.

Finally, just to share a few words on my journey thus far – I pursued political studies in Strasbourg before moving on to the Ecole Nationale d’Administration and becoming part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after the onset of the new century. I have worked in New Zealand, New York and San Francisco before arriving in New Delhi earlier this month.

Yes, India and France’s strategic partnership is solid and growing. At the heart of this relationship lies human relations. That is what we will nurture together.

I look forward to interacting with you during one of our future events. In the meantime, stay safe and stay connected with us. À bientôt!

Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens
Embassy of France in India – Counsellor, Head of the Service for Education, Science and Culture
French Institute in India – Country Director