Where there is love and appreciation, geographical boundaries cease to exist. Such is the bonding between India and France. And a big evidence of that bond is Alliance française du Bengale completing 80 years in Bengal. Consul General of France in Kolkata, Virginie Corteval, said, “This anniversary, in itself, bears testimony to the strong and special bond that exists between Bengal and France.”
Marking the special occasion, there was a programme held recently presented by Alliance française du Bengale in association with Centre for Contemporary Communication, Kolkata. Participants included Professor Chinmoy Guha, who is also author, academician and distinguished French scholar and former vice-president of Alliance française du Bengale; Ruby Palchaudhuri, former president of the centre, and Samuel Berthet, director of the centre in Hyderabad, professor and historian.
They entered into a conversation on Indo-French cultural relation from 1910-1950, taking the audience to the deeper world of Rabindranath Tagore, Romain Rolland, Sylvain Lévi, Kalidas Nag, Visva Bharati University, Kolkata, The River by Renoir and much more. “It’s so reassuring to hear about Alliance française du Bengale at a time when the world is disintegrating. It’s about convergence and harmony between two outstanding cultures. It is not an accident or a brainwave of a circle of friends. It’s the fruit of a long love affair between France and Bengal, which began in the 19th century with Raja Ram Mohan Roy. There was also Derozio who hoisted the French flag on top of a monument in Kolkata after the French Revolution. Bengal’s love for France was not incidental. It was a quest for an alternative discourse and Alliance française du Bengale aided in that. It’s not just a language-teaching centre,” shared Professor Guha.
While Virginie Corteval greeted the audience on the occasion, there was a welcome speech by the president of the centre, Kanchana Mukhopadhyay, and the director of the centre, M Fabrice Plançon. “I wish from the bottom of my heart that we will continue to nourish the cultural exchanges between our two countries, whether it is in a virtual manner, or back in Park Street in the presence of all our guests, once the pandemic is over,” said Virginie.