Director’s Message

Director’s Message

Welcome to the French Institute in India!

“French Institute in India will further reinforce its focus on student mobility, academic exchanges, research, educational and cultural cooperation.”

Dear friends of France, 

I renew dialogue with you in these surreal times to simply convey the good will and wishes of the French network in India. The present times have brought upon us to do everything in our power to preserve people, culture, our spirit, our common and shared future. 

Through this message I also share with you some news from and about France.

It is four weeks into the work-from-home regime of the French Institute in India and three weeks into the national lockdown. I share, with much relief and satisfaction, that our teams have facilitated, and are continuing to facilitate, the return to their families of the over 2000 French travellers in India. Their travel stories will surely be like none other.

Meanwhile, as SARS-CoV-2 continues its march across the planet, France’s Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (Aviesan) is accelerating research into the virus and the malady through REACTing, a consortium coordinated by Inserm, a French biomedical research agency which has selected 20 initiatives covering mathematical modeling to disease prevention and treatment. This includes a European project and clinical trial called DISCOVERY, funded by the French Ministries for Health and Solidarity and Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

Elsewhere in Marseille, the most highly cited microbiologists in the world, Prof. Didier Raoult at the IHU Méditerranée Infection, posted a successful drug trial using chloroquine and became the first to administer the malaria drug to a COVID-19 patient! This has made him into a sensation overnight, but there are many miles ahead. You are well aware that a doctor in Jaipur successfully administered this for Coronavirus and today India is flooded with requests to export the same. This is global cooperation.

World over, this adversity has spurred innovation and creativity like never before – from prototypes of equipment to methods to administer disinfectants to use of technology. Surely ‘none of us is smarter than all of us’!

Louis Pasteur rightly knew that ‘la science n’a pas de patrie’ / ‘Science has no homeland’. Our global challenges need global solutions. Now, as well as in the future. For coronavirus as well as for cybersecurity, climate change, urban development et al.

Herein lies the significance of collaboration and cooperation, sharing of expertise and best practices, pooling of resources, translation and digitalisation for greater access to knowledge. COVID-19 is the world’s collective experience.

In this light, the French Institute in India will further reinforce its focus on student mobility, academic exchanges, research, educational and cultural cooperation. France, which has been engaged in actions linked with the city, also sees the pandemic opening up perspectives for more holistic cities and smart cities of tomorrow. Our role is thus clearly carved out and aligned to adapt to newer challenges.

You may have noticed the huge part played by cultural factors throughout this phenomenon which was as much medical, logistical, technological, political, economic or social in its implication. Culture is enabling coping; it is sustaining a billion confined people but also influencing approaches to problem solving and even law enforcement. Artist David Hockney’s portraits of spring created in locked-down Normandy are bringing much cheer. Design houses like Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Dior and so many others are channelling their resources to meet the needs of the hour. Saint-Exupéry knew it – ‘On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur’.

Just like you can’t take festivity out of India, you can’t deprive the French of joie de vivre. So basic.

We all look forward to a more aware planet, better healthcare, balanced lifestyles, cleaner environment, economic justice, transparent governance and teamwork across the world stage. Yes, the recession bugle has been sounded. It will be times of prudence. When else can imagination and innovation take seed? As sure as the spring follows winter, so does prosperity follow a slowdown. The future is ours to create.

The French Institute in India and its affiliates will continue to be your support – through education, a powerful weapon for change, through communication, through the arts and letters, through our people.

While I look forward to our connect in person, here’s inviting you to learn French, watch cinema, browse culturethèque, visit a museum, read a book….through our online resources in the comfort of your homes.

Share your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences, your suggestions and stay connected. We are living through history!

We stand in solidarity with those who lost their loved ones and remain steadfast in our efforts to triumph against these odds and create a more sustainable future. Hope is contagious, just like laughter.

In anticipation of seeing you again, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Dr Bertrand de Hartingh 

Counselor for Education, Science and Culture 
Embassy of France in India 
Country Director, French Institute in India 

 2 Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road 
New Delhi 110011