New Delhi: As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about lockdowns and suspended events, France is seeking novel ways to maintain cooperation with India in multiple ways especially through exchanges between their peoples.
"It is determined to turn this crisis into opportunities to boost partnerships in education, research and culture," a French embassy statement said here.
Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, said: “The strategic partnership between India and France is nurtured through strong people-to-people ties. As France and India gradually emerge from their lockdowns, their exchanges will serve as building blocks for a new world and a common future".
He further said - trusted global scientific collaboration is the need of the hour since no country can achieve a breakthrough alone.
"Our country recognises that education will play a critical role in shaping a post-pandemic world, and thus reiterates that Indian students and researchers are welcome in France," the envoy said.
Notwithstanding logistical and planning challenges, France will continue to welcome Indian students for higher studies.
"Thanks to a strong social and public healthcare system, France has taken care of its foreign students on an equal footing with French students, ensuring their safety and well-being. Visas and scholarships have been extended wherever necessary."
For new students, France is "fully geared" up to enable the commencement of the academic year through virtual classrooms, if necessary.
"It is hoped that students will be able to join their classes in France later in autumn, if not in September. France has also augmented its proportion of scholarships by 50% – equivalent to Rs 10 crore – for this academic year.
These scholarships will be awarded regardless of whether a student starts the semester in India or France, as Indian students are still keen on following their dreams in France.
The Embassy will organise a virtual version of its bi-annual “Choose France Tour” at the end of September for the intake of students for the 2021 academic session. This will enable a greater number of French institutions to interact with Indian students, reaching aspiring scholars from all over India.
On the cinematic front, while the Festival of Cannes will be missed, the film market will be held online in June – as will upcoming professional meetings for the film industry. With more and more streaming platforms, there is a great potential for Indo-French collaborations and exchanges, he said.
On the artistic front, in these difficult times, the Embassy is continuing collaborations with its Indian partners. Witness, the launch of the Serendipity Arles grant, which opens up opportunities for artists from South Asia to participate in the Arles Photography Festival next year.