French National Day 2019

Close to 800 invitees joined this year the celebrations of the French National Day organized by the Consulate General of France in Bombay at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Colaba.

Consul General Ms. Sonia Barbry received an eclectic mix of guests of various domains – diplomatic, economic, cultural and academic – partners who work and collaborate with France, along with an enthusiastic French community.

Mr. Sumit Mullick, Chief Information Commissioner, Government of Maharashtra was the Chief Guest for the evening.

The celebrations started with the official ceremony during which Ms Barbry highlighted the Indo-French relations in her speech (attached below). Then Mr. Mullick and Ms Barbry, who is a keen Indophile and a fluent Hindi speaker, entered into a spontaneous banter that regaled the crowd. This was followed by a stunning live concert of fusion jazz presented by the group “Swingin’ Partout” that had come all the way from France. But that was not all: some groovy French DJ later on had the crowd dancing away till the wee hours of the night. All in all, it was an memorable evening with all the French cheese, wine, cuisine and ambiance that was appreciated by all the invitees.

Speech of Consul General Sonia Barbry:

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends,
Dear representatives from the Indian authorities, thank you for gracing this evening,
Chers amis français, bonsoir et bienvenue,
"Priya doston, namaskar or aapka hardik swagat hai.
Itne sare France ke chahnevalon ko dekh kar mera mann bhavuk ho gaya hai!
Aap sab achambhit hai ?
Bharat aur mera rishta bayees saal purana hai, toh hindi bolna svaabhhaavik hai."

It is so moving for me and it is such an honor to celebrate our National Day for the first time as the Consul General of France in Mumbai. And it is touching to see so many of you joining us in this celebration.

As you all know, I’ve had a very long and special relation with India, where I’ve been living for many years in different avatars. And I have to say that I love this new one.

Since I assumed office 10 months ago, it’s been an incredibly busy and exhilarating time. France and India cooperate in so many fields, and the West of India is an important part of our bilateral cooperation.

There is, of course, our strategic partnership which celebrated last year its 20th anniversary and takes its roots in the conviction that India and France are natural and trustful partners. This partnership translates in different strategic areas (defense, nuclear, space, security) at both bilateral and multilateral levels. It is because of this very strong relationship that President Macron invited Prime Minister Modi to France next month as a special guest of the G7 meeting.
In the last 2-3 years we especially reinforced our cooperation in the Indian Ocean in order to preserve peace and security as well as freedom of navigation. France, who has almost 1.5 million citizens living in the Indian Ocean, as well as several naval bases, sees India as a partner for this mission. It is in this context that last May, our aircraft career, the Charles de Gaulle, came to Goa for a week to hold the most ambitious joint exercise so far with the Indian navy. These regular exercises deepen the level of trust and cooperation between our two countries and I want to thank the Indian navy for their warm welcome in May.

France is also contributing on day to day basis to help find solutions to India’s challenges by investing and innovating in sectors such as renewable energy, eco-friendly transports and sustainable cities. And I would like to acknowledge the remarkable work being done in these fields by our companies as well as our Development Agency.

But we know that if we want this high level partnership to continue in the future, we also have to work every day to bring our people closer to each other, to get to know each other better.

In December last year, three months after my arrival, I had the honor to welcome here in Mumbai our Minister of Foreign Affairs, who took this occasion to strengthen the partnership between our film and video industries.
After all it is the French Lumieres Brothers (Auguste and Louis), who came to Mumbai in 1896 and organized the first ever film projection in India, for one rupee, at the Hotel Watson (which is almost dying now ). It was an immediate success and we know today the passion of Indian people (like French people) for cinema.

We are also actively working on developing the exchanges between our students, researchers, young professionals, as well as regular tourists.

And it is to support our French community here in Mumbai, as well as to strengthen our cultural exchanges that we have worked very actively this year to relocate our French International school into new, modern and attractive premises in the center of Mumbai. In addition to the international students, this bilingual French-English school is eager to welcome more Indian children looking for an international education. French baccalaureat (the final school exam) is well recognized by all international universities, including Indian ones.

But before I show you a small presentation on this school allow me to sincerely thank the French companies who believed in this project and sponsored the development work of the new premises:

Lycée Français International de Bombay

So Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, I would like to say that India and France have a bright future together. Or at least a colorful one. This spring, while France was covered in yellow after of a social movement, India decided at the same time to cover itself in saffron color. But tonight, for Bastille Day, we invite you to celebrate in Blue White Red (Bleu Blanc Rouge). You’ll find many colors of France in those beautiful pictures and videos all around you –even our dear Notre Dame to whom I wanted to pay a special tribute. We also have a live band coming especially from France to make you dance because Bastille Day is always a day of joy, happiness and popular celebration.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the generous contribution of our partners whose names are written on the logo boards, and without the tremendous work put by the team of the Consulate, whom I would like to thank very warmly. I would also like to have a special word for Nikhat Anand, whom most of you know since she’s the one sending you all the invitations, as she will be leaving us in few days and it is therefore her farewell tonight.

A tous les Français présents ce soir, je veux leur dire notre fierté de voir les échanges se multiplier entre nos deux pays et votre présence ici en Inde y participe. Je vous souhaite à tous une très belle fête nationale, et une belle soirée, dans la joie et la bonne humeur.

Vive la France,
Long live the Indo-French partnership!
Jai Hind! Jai France!

Selection of photos

You can have a look at some of the pictures of the evening here:

Selection of photos

Last modified on 24/07/2019

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