India and France are celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations. With the aim of consolidating this even stronger bond, the French cultural and educational network in India organized an exhibition entitled “Science beyond borders: connecting the dots between India and France” in New Delhi. To find out more, Outlook’s Rajiv Nayan Chaturvedi caught up with French Ambassador Emmanuel Lanain.
Here are the edited excerpts:
What are the priority areas insofar as you wish to advance relations between India and France?
Well, I mean, we have an amazing friendship between two countries, but at the heart of it is people-to-people relationships, otherwise, there is no lasting friendship between two cultures. So the key priority is to do even more exchanges of people between the two countries and we are working on that together.
How do France and India plan to move forward in terms of art and culture?
We are already doing a lot. We are working on many fronts with India. For example, India wants to have more professional museums in this beauty spot. We have a lot of expertise in this area and I think we can help you.
What kind of common points do you draw between Indian and French culture?
We are two different countries and we respect each other. Culture plays an important role in our daily life and it is truly a way of life for us. I don’t think India and France could live an ordinary life without this extra layer of culture. Moving forward, most importantly, for us, culture is first and foremost about diversity. India is the richest in diversity but France and Europe have the same flavor. I think it should be valuable.
How do you see the importance of art in making democracies thrive?
It is very important to nurture the culture because it cultivates the best instinct. In French we say music makes your behavior kinder and more enjoyable and that’s pretty much true for any other art form as well. In short, the culture clearly shows the image of any country.
India and France have completed 75 years of diplomatic relations. How do you see the course and what is next on the plate for the next 15 years?
It was a wonderful trip. We have just completed 75 years of diplomatic relations and we cooperate in almost all areas. As for the next 15 years, we are going to do everything, everything we have to do. We will try together to meet the challenges we have. We will share experiences, technologies and try to find all the solutions together.
What kinds of challenges are India and France facing?
The challenges we have now are cyber. Everything today depends on how we would protect our society from various threats. The second is AI. We will try to master the AI so that we are not a slave to it.
Why has Paris so attracted artists from all over the world and continues to do so?
First of all we are very welcoming. Secondly, Paris is a beautiful city in the world and I think artists appreciate our way of life, our gastronomy and our passion for beauty and culture. I think Paris and France are great because they attract artists and creators from all over the planet.
From a cultural point of view, tell us one thing that Indians have that France does not have?
Biryani. I love Biryani and I don’t think we have such a spicy dish.