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Night of Ideas
Night of Ideas
Rebuilding together the post-covid world

An opportunity to explore the latest discoveries in knowledge and arts and to take part in the discussion about the main issues of our times.

Every year, the Night of Ideas celebrates the stream of ideas between countries, cultures, topics and generations. An opportunity to explore the latest discoveries in knowledge and arts and to take part in the discussion about the main issues of our times. This year’s edition of Night of Ideas, animated by architect Swati Janu, will see debates around the theme “Rebuilding Together”, with Indian and European thinkers featuring environmental activist Vandana Shiva and architect Léopold Lambert.

In 1910, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who became Le Corbusier, wrote to his parents:

“Let life have a purpose and not just be an arrow shot towards death.”

The Night of Ideas (“La Nuit des idées”) is an international event held annually by the French cultural network to celebrate the stream of ideas between countries, cultures, topics and generations. Every year, the Night of ideas facilitates the discovery of the latest trends in knowledge and arts by bringing together speakers who have contributed significantly to their fields, to take part in a discussion on the compelling issues of our times.

This year, the Night of Ideas in India will be held at the unique and iconic venue – the Open Hand Monument – a symbolic structure designed by the architect Le Corbusier and located in the Capitol Complex of the Indian city and union territory of Chandigarh. Representative of peace and reconciliation, perhaps there couldn’t have been a better place for this year’s event which will revolve around the themes of living together, a sense of community and building new solidarities with 6 panellists – Indian, French & European. Bringing us together after over two years of the pandemic, the discussion will also reflect on how not only has our present altered but also our collective imaginations of the future. What then are the new utopias we hope to build and how distant or real, are they?

Event Schedule

Date: May 14, 2022
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
Venue: The Rotating Open Hand Monument, Chandigarh

 This event has passed. Join us for other Bonjour India events. Check out the calendar.


Swati Janu is a Delhi-based architect working on issues of social justice and housing rights, for which she was selected as one of 13 Young Leaders from India by the French government in 2018. Her interdisciplinary practice combines community engagement and activism at a grassroots level with policy advocacy. She is the Founder of the studio Social Design Collaborative which was awarded the international Beazley Design of the Year 2020 in Architecture. She also teaches and writes on urban issues from affordable housing to inclusive public spaces, with her articles featured on City Lab, Scroll and Indian Express.

Léopold Lambert is a Paris-based trained architect. He is the editor-in-chief of The Funambulist, a print and online magazine dedicated to the politics of space and bodies. He is the author of four books including Weaponized Architecture: The Impossibility of Innocence (dpr-barcelona, 2012), La politique du bulldozer: La ruine palestinienne comme projet israélien (B2, 2016), and États d’urgence: Une Histoire spatiale du continuum colonial français (Premiers Matins de Novembre, 2021).

Marie Darrieussecq was born on January 3, 1969 in the Basque Country (France). She is a writer and used to be a psychoanalyst. She graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris and wrote her Ph.D. thesis on auto-fiction. Since “Truismes” (“Pig tales”), her first book published in 1996 & translated in 45 countries, she has published numerous books at P.O.L publisher which are translated all over the world. She received the Medicis Prize and the Prize of Prize in 2013 for her book “Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes” (“Men”). With her characteristic intensity, edginess and humour, Marie Darrieussecq explores female desire, what it means to be a woman ; her novels also deal with the figures of ghosts, animality and climate. Last book published: “Pas dormir” (“Insomnia”, (2021). The writer has made a wonderful story of her sleepless nights, No Sleep. She, who has tried everything to fall asleep, delivers her many experiences, but also her reflection on this mysterious waking state which seems to increase with deforestation. Today, Darrieussecq is a notable figure among the distinguished younger generation of French writers.

Dr. Vandana SHIVA is trained as a Physicist and did her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She later shifted to interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. In 2004 she started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.Dr. Shiva combines the sharp intellectual enquiry with courageous activism..Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia.Forbes magazine in November 2010 has identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe. Dr. Shiva has received honorary Doctorates from University of Paris, University of Western Ontario, University of Oslo and Connecticut College, University of Guelph.Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of UN and Earth Day International Award. Lennon ONO grant for peace award by Yoko Ono in 2009, Sydney Peace Prize in 2010, Doshi Bridge Builder Award, Calgary Peace Prize and Thomas Merton Award in the year 2011,the Fukuoka Award and The Prism of Reason Award in 2012, the Grifone d’Argento prize 2016 and The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity 2016, Veerangana Award 2018, The Sanctuary Wildlife Award 2018 , International Environment Summit & Award 2018 and Amrita Devi Award 2021.

Shrayana Bhattacharya trained in development economics at Delhi University and Harvard University. She specializes in the areas of social protection and jobs. At present, she is a Senior Economist at the World Bank and leads a series of initiatives on safety nets with the national government and state governments in India. Prior to this, she worked with SEWA, Institute of Social Studies Trust, Centre for Policy Research and ILO on research projects dealing with labour and gender. Her first book of non-fiction Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence was published by HarperCollins India in November 2021. Shrayana has won several awards including the Times of India AutHer award for Best Non-Fiction Author and SKOCH India Economic Forum’s Literature Award. She is based in New Delhi.

Tcheque Human rights propagator Mr Lukáš Houdek who already has activities in India among the Hijra community (excluded transgender community) in northern India. He has been mapping and photographing the community since 2012. Mr Houdek is a coordinator of the Czech government initiative called “Hate free culture”, which supports minorities and people from different cultures etc.
Houdek graduated from Charles University in Prague; he obtained the Czech Journalist award in 2019.
The themes of his performance are identities, violence, hate, homophobia and injustice. Besides activities with the Hijra community in India, he has a supportive program for people with albinism in Ghana. He is also interested in the problem of Sudeten Germans, the German minority of circa 3 million people in former Czechoslovakia who were drastically expelled from the country after WWII.

After a few years working as a sailor and several trips to Africa, Juan Arnau studied Astrophysics at the Complutense University of Madrid, where he graduated in 1994. He traveled to India in 1995, with a fellowship from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) and at the University of Varanasi (Banaras Hindu University, BHU), where he began his studies of Indian philosophy and culture with Catalan Sanskritist Oscar Pujol. From India he went to Mexico, where he did his PhD at the Centre for Asian and African Studies at El Colegio de México, studying Sanskrit with Rashik Vihari Joshi. After completing his PhD he moved to Ann Arbor (Michigan) for six years, where he did postdoctoral research at the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures of the University of Michigan, with Luis Ó. Gomez. Meanwhile he taught Spanish, and Latin American Literature and Cinema, in the Department of Romance Languages. Currently a researcher at the Institute of History of Medicine and Science López Piñero (CSIC-University of Valencia) and associate professor at the University of Barcelona.

Organized in collaboration with:

Instituto Cervantes is a non-profit organization founded by the Government of Spain in 1991. Its mission is to promote Spanish language teaching as well as that of Spain’s co-official languages, in addition to fostering knowledge of the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world. Instituto Cervantes New Delhi was inaugurated in 2009, and it is located in a new building in the heart of the city, next to Connaught Place.

After the friendly dissolution of Czechoslovakia almost 30 years ago, the compound of the Embassy of the Czech Republic still consists of the Czech and Slovak parts. We both share the place that is the seat of our diplomatic missions in India. We believe that this friendship between our nations, which takes more than one hundred years, could be an inspiration for others around the world. The compound of the Embassy in India was designed in the brutalist architectonical style of the 70th by the Czech well-known architect Karel Filsak who projected our Embassies in London, Geneva, Cairo, and Brasilia.

A word from our partner:

“Pernod Ricard India is happy to associate with the Embassy of France and its cultural service, the French Institute in India on Bonjour India 2022  –  a festival that celebrates the long-standing relationship between India and France in art, science, and culture. The “Night of Ideas”, an event which celebrates the stream of ideas between countries, cultures, topics, and generations, gives a platform to voices of hope  –  spreading a message of Conviviality for all, and the significance of building authentic human connections, something that we at Pernod Ricard not only live as our core value but also drive as our commitment!” – Ranjeet Oak, Chief Commercial Officer, Pernod Ricard India.

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