IFCCI Annual Gala Dinner
Address of H.E. Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India.
New Delhi, 22 November 2018
Mr President of IFCCI – Cher Guillaume,
Madame Secretary General – Chère Payal,
Representatives of the corporate and the culinary worlds (and one may well be part of both!)
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be amidst you once again this evening, for this splendid event organized by IFCCI.
These occasions abound, so intense and varied is IFCCI’s activity in India: in September we met in Mumbai for its Annual General Meeting, during which I underscored before many of you who are also present here this evening, the highlights of our excellent Indo-French relations in both the economic and political spheres. Even more recently, we felicitated the best French companies in India with the first edition of the Indo-French Business Awards, held at the Residence of France.
This evening we have gathered for a gala event celebrating “A Culinary Journey through France”. Some may think that this is a subject of levity, of frivolity – quite removed from the diplomatic or industrial issues in this country. Well, let me disabuse you of this notion. Our country, France, is endowed with a wealth of facets. Recalling that it holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council or that it is the sixth global power is but a partial representation of what France is today. If France continues to fire people’s imagination all over the world, if it’s also the world’s top tourist destination (and the foremost in Europe for Indian tourists), it’s because it possesses an age-old culture and an exceptional heritage. This is a privilege that we have in common with our Indian friends.
Our gastronomy is a fundamental part of this heritage, so I sincerely thank IFCCI for highlighting this so well tonight. And our gastronomy has its ambassadors. Dear Tristan, Hotel Pullman, which is hosting us this evening, is one of its most eminent ambassadors. But there are many other talents, both French and Indian, who are present here tonight. So my thanks go out to each and every one of you who has embarked on the adventure of enterprise, by opening here a restaurant, there a patisserie or a chain of patisseries.
And this heritage, be it architectural, cultural or culinary, is equally a diplomatic asset at the service of our interests and values. It contributes to this “desire for France”, the forging of this partnership of peoples, of hearts, that our Embassy, our consulates general, our economic Team France endeavour to promote every day among our Indian friends.
If I am emphasising these values, it is also because, beyond market share statistics and investment figures, values, too, lie at the heart of our economic relations with India. They are at the core of the policies of the companies you represent.
We have often spoken of this: our companies do not come to India for “flings”, so to speak; they commit to enduring relations with this country by making and innovating in India; as well as through their ethical values, through their community involvement, their social responsibility campaigns, which – I’m sure the President of IFCCI will concur – are exemplary.
I had the opportunity to see this at first hand just a few days ago, Mr President, when I was given a tour of your Pernod Ricard distillery in Nashik – but there are many more examples. We at the Embassy, IFCCI and others could, in fact, together reflect on ways and means to support and orient these endeavours towards India’s social or educational needs, and perhaps even consider having a French platform that could be a driver or booster of these initiatives.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is these values, this rich cultural and gastronomic heritage, this “French touch” that we will all celebrate this evening.
And now, I will not keep you any longer from this spectacular culinary journey that awaits you.
Thank you for your attention.