Jean-François Ramon describes India as “a society which is evolving very fast and every day”. The director of Alliance Française de Delhi had made India his home three years ago and since then has worked actively in the art and cultural front to increase engagements with Indians. For someone who grew up and went to school in Morocco and in the South of France and then got a doctorate in French linguistics, Ramon comes across as a dynamic individual who navigated the worlds of science and cultural management skilfully. As an engineer belonging to the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research), he held project management positions for scientific research. And as a cultural purveyor, he held the position of director in several institutes in France and Germany. In India now, he is looking at fruitful collaborations and avenues to promote cultural ties between India and France. In a candid interview with ACF, Ramon talks about his experience in India.
What are the initiatives that you have taken to make Alliance française de Delhi a dynamic cultural hub?
Collective approach within the management and along with the young enthusiastic generation, besides development of new partnership with the young generation.
Is the primary role of the institute to promote the French language and the cultural association between India and France? Or, are there other goals as well?
Yes, the primary goal of AFD is to promote French language and also promotion of cultural exchanges between India and France is the second main objective.
France is known for its vibrant museums and art institutes, besides luxury and world-class institutes. That shows how a country has shown interest in investing in its cultural wealth. By contrast, India too has a rich cultural and heritage history, however, the government is apathetic towards arts and culture. How do you view this dichotomy? Or, to say, irony?
As a foreigner, I would not like to comment on the Indian political issues, however, I can tell you that I am impressed by many initiatives being taken by organisations such as INTACH, IRTHD, and many others. We are regularly collaborating with these organisations.
Can you elaborate on cultural collaborations/exchanges between India and France?
As you are aware a lot of events between India and France are already taking place. One such Bonjour India just concluded few months back. At our level, we are particularly active in building artistic exchange platforms like the INCHORUS for music, INVIEW for visual arts or INDEBATE for intellectual encounters. Apart from that, we are also organising resident programs for both Indian and French artist. I am pleased to highlight the fact that we are not only promoting French artists but also promoting the young India artists both in France and Europe.
When did you arrive in India and how has been your experience? What are the things that you have taken a fancy for?
I arrived in India almost 3 years back: I must say that it has been an interesting and beautiful journey so far. What I like most – dynamism of the society which is evolving very fast and surely every day. I am impressed by the cultural diversity of the society. It is personally very inspiring and stimulating form
Are there any similarities that you see between India and France?
I would say that both the countries have long and rich cultural history. And also the fact that both India and France share a common responsibility of making the world a better place. A good example to quote here could be the fight against climate change.
It is interesting a person from the scientific background, with a keen interest in art has become a cultural representative of his native country. Do you think it was pure luck, or was it hard work?
May be pure luck, but with the help of HARD WORK !