‘BONJOUR INDIA has opened up a variety of possibilities for exchange: from innovation in the surgical field to the production of video games’

The third edition of Bonjour India festival celebrating Indo-French partnership in innovation and creativity and spread over four-months across 30 cities in India commenced in November 2017. The festival will come to a close early March with two ceremonies , a scintillating cultural performance in Delhi and later a knowledge summit.  Dr. Bertrand de Hartingh, Country Director of French Institute in India  who is the  General Curator for Bonjour India 2017-18 spoke to Curriculum magazine on this extraordinary exchange event between two countries. Some Excerpts:   

 

Give us briefly a sense of Bonjour India’s experience of last three months. Is it fulfilling your expectations?

With Bonjour India 2017-18, India and France has come together to create, innovate and partner towards a progressive and sustainable future and we have been able to achieve what we expected of it so far.

The third edition of Bonjour India 2017-18 celebrates the Indo-French partnership, aiming to shape next decade of human exchange between the two countries. It has been unprecedented given the ambitious scale this time. People at the forefront of their fields share their inspiring journeys as they change society through their innovation and creativity.  The events were organized collaboratively across cities and disciplines with  performances, debates, seminars and exhibitions. With around 100 programmes and projects in over 30 cities across 20 states & union territories, Bonjour India provided a platform for enduring partnerships across all domains that will take us into the future: from arts to new technologies to sustainable environment.

What  were or are some of the remaining key events of this four-month long festival?  

Bonjour India has three key pillars – Smart Citizen, Go Green, High mobility. And just like all the previous events, the events illustrate three concepts– innovation, creativity and partnership for bringing together the minds of people of the two countries to imagine a future.

Among  the remaining and he upcoming events of the festival,  the audience will be delighted to witness Samghata, where French composer Thierry Pecou will bring Indian and western musicians together through his new composition. Then Weight of Joy is a project that works with dancers with disability. Another event is specially curated to connect Indian students with French companies and universities named as The Future Tour. It is a series of thematic rendezvous between scientists, academics, companies and students from India and France. Michelin starred Chef Alan Passard owner and chef of the three star restaurant Arpege in Paris, will create unique prestigious dinners using his signature styles. Passard will bring a refreshing taste of this garden-to-table cuisine right the High Tables.

What about the concluding ceremony?

There will be two closing ceremonies : the public one will take place in Delhi, where The Bonjour India is bringing Transe Express with Celestial Carillon, an aerial performance inspired by Calder that combines theatre, music and fine arts. A bewitching orchestra of 17 bell-ringers and aerialists is lifted 55 meters skyward in this magical concert and theatre where audiences face artistes, and the machinery of the carillon is confronted with the architecture. It will be a treat to watch. The second one will take place a bit later with the Knowledge Summit.

Coming to education, because it is our area of interest, can you list some of the initiates or projects that were part of this four-month festival?

We have curated multiple education related events. The Knowledge Sumit is the first ever Indo-French Higher Education and Research Summit took place in Delhi on 8th December’17, to bring together those who will shape academic and scientific partnerships over the next five years. The two-day event focused on quality assessment, the rise in number of students, pedagogical innovation, need-based skill development, among other issues of consequence to education and research. Alongside plenary sessions involving leaders and stakeholders, parallel discussions fostering cooperation in the thematic areas closely linked with the Future Tour.

The Future Tour is a series of thematic rendezvous between scientists, academics, companies and students from India and France. In continuity with the Knowledge Summit, it lays out the roadmap for Indo-French collaboration for the next decade. This programme connects Indian students directly with French companies and universities, while gathering researchers and scholars for scientific workshops. It also gives enterprises a platform to express their needs in a rapidly changing economy. The different themes of this project are: Mathematics & Computer Science, Electric mobility & Connectivity, Agronomy & Food Processes, Natural resources and Bio-Products, Urban Planning and Eco Energy.

The STEAM Series comprises of two events around project-based creative learning that aims to connect Indian and French open-source innovation and fablab communities. STEAM school gathers 100 participants from various backgrounds at a 10-day fablab at Maker’s Asylum, a space dedicated to co-creation and sharing. Teams comprising engineers, architects, designers, social entrepreneurs will design innovative solutions to the urban challenges defined by UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Assembling solutions through rapid prototyping, participants will test them at Makers’ Asylum facilities while being mentored by Indian and French experts.

Mad over Maths:  is a special session of the Future Tour which highlights and honours French and Indian talents and achievements in Mathematics and Information Technology. The session included: plenary session for students to meet experts in the field of Mathematics and information technology; A presentation of French programmes of excellence in Mathematics to stress the importance of mathematical training in improving students’ employability; One-to- one meetings between students and French higher education institutions to learn more about study opportunities in France; A math competition bringing together Indian and French students from 10th and 11th grade in order to create a promising young community around Mathematics.

24 hrs Entrepreneurship challenge: This project places Master and Doctoral students in an entrepreneurial situation for 24 hours non-stop. Ten teams of 7 members each will be grouped around projects with a specific theme. The entrepreneurs-in- training will develop their capacity to be daring and innnovative, as the time limitation (24 hours) drives risk-taking and decision- making. The students will get a first-hand experience of what it takes to create an enterprise through learning-by- doing, from the initial idea to drawing up a business plan. They will immediately get to put to action the theoretical data and information given by coaches who will guide them through the process. At the end of 24h Against the Clock in Entrepreneurship, each team will present its project to a jury of professionals who will pick the two projects that go through to the final.

We have also just showcased France at India Art Fair. Through its creative excellence and by making art accessible to all, France sets the international standard in the fields of art and culture. Bonjour India partners France’s talent for making culture a source of employability with India’s immense potential in arts and culture. Culture is serious business in France, and art a matter of public concern. India Art Fair, a hub of artistic and academic exchange, proved to be the perfect venue for a rendezvous with France, and where renowned French designer Matali Crasset showcased France’s creativity. Audiences at the Fair, including students, also discovered over 400 arts programmes offered in France.

What are some of the areas that you might have identified for future human exchange especially among the students and faculty?

France has always been known for its creativity in the field of arts. This year at Campus France, Matali Crasset’s booth invited students to a glimpse of the educational opportunities that are offered in France in the field of arts, everything from fashion to jewelery making, to product design, to painting and fine arts. Besides this, France is also a global leader in innovation. Cutting-edge science and technology can be researched and explored for students and France is equally a wonderful educational destination for faculty and students the fields of science and engineering. Bonjour India has opened up a variety of possibilities for exchange: from innovation in the surgical field to the production of video games, and animation. There is a something for every student in France’s top universities.

Any advisory you would like to provide to Indian students through this interview  in terms of study opportunities in France? And also, some support services that your office offers in this regard.

Yes, France welcomes you. France aims to up the number of Indian students in French institutions from 4,000 to 10,000 by the year 2020. More and more courses are taught in English, and tuition is free for students studying in the French medium in state universities. There also more and more scholarships available every year to Indian students. Also, Campus France offices in various Indian cities can help you through the entire procedure, from helping you find and contact universities all the way to visa applications and advice with accommodation in France.

 Lastly, can you also throw some light on campus art programme?

Campus art is a network of French higher education institutions offering courses in art, design, fashion, music or architecture led by Agence Campus France, with the support of the Ministries of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Culture, as well as ANDEA (National Association of Art Schools). The French Institute in India participated for the first time with its own stand at the tenth edition of the India Art Fair (IAF) as part of Bonjour India, with the ambition to present the diversity of training offered in France in the artistic fields. Presented on-screen at the stand, but also accessible on the shelves to visitors, the Campus Art stand displays a vast choice of over 400 courses, from Arts management and curatorial courses, cinema, jewelry to fashion or 3D animation. Students can apply online on the spot by following the advice of Campus France representatives present on site.