National Day Reception 2017

14th of July 2017, Mumbai

Good evening, dear colleagues, dear compatriots and dear Indian friends.

I am very glad to be here today, with you, to celebrate the 14th of July, Bastille Day.

This most important celebration of the French Republic requires me to address you in an official capacity. I hope that won’t stop me from retaining your attention !

As many of you already know, the 14th July is the Day when the royal prison of Bastille was stormed and conquered by people of Paris in the year 1789.

A day celebrated by the French community all around the world.
In fact, it was only in 1880, a year after the adoption of the Marseillaise as the national anthem, that the 14th of July became our National Day by law.

And this choice was not obvious, as legislators and senators, of the third Republic hesitated between several dates and events :

- the 5th of May 1789 when the king Louis the sixteenth opened the Estates General in Versailles with his finance minister, Jacques Necker,
- 4th of August 1789, when immunities and privileges were abolished,
- the 14th of July but 1790, with la “fête de la federation”, celebrating the union of all French under a constitutional monarchy, which proved later, to be short-lived ;
- or the 21st of September 1792, the day when France was proclaimed a Republic, for the very first time.

The choice of the 14th of July, as I said earlier, was not an evident one. At the end, there is a certain ambiguity in the reasons why the 14th of July was chosen in 1880.
On one side, referring to the storming of la Bastille in 1789, Victor Hugo addressed the Senate in the following terms : "The collapse of this citadel signified the downfall of all tyrannies, of all despotisms, of all oppression..."

But, on the other side, the rapporteur of the law, referring to 1790, in the house of representatives, which was for the two third Republican with a minority of Royalists and Bonapartists, expressed, : “This day was the most beautiful in our history. This day consecrated our national unity”...

He added : “When men who share the same feelings and ideas want to be brothers, they are brothers. Against that will, violence is of no effect, fate is of no effect and the so called necessity is only the expression of mankind weakness.

He concluded with these last words : ”Whatever the discrepancies that divide us, there is something greater : the bigger picture of national unity, that we all want, and for which we would stand up, ready to die, if necessary.

Whichever the date we really celebrate tonight, and both are valid, it is the same ideal of universal humanism which drives all those who believe in France and in the Republic.

Indeed the Republic has given us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, albeit not exhaustive, universal suffrage, the right to work, the abolition of slavery, freedom of the press, free, compulsory and secular education, separation of church and state, freedom of association.

May we preserve this heritage and our values of freedom, equality and brotherhood.

Chers compatriotes, chers amis, je suis très heureux de vous voir présents ici aujourd’hui, et je sais que nombre de Français, absents de la circonscription, auraient bien voulu être des nôtres.

A tous ceux d’entre vous, qui relativement nombreux cet été, nous quittez, je voudrais souhaiter le meilleur pour vos vies personnelle et professionnelle à venir.

Je suis certain que vous partez en emmenant un peu, ou beaucoup, de l’Inde avec vous.

Je voudrais vous remercier, et naturellement vous qui restez, pour la qualité des relations entre la communauté française et le Consulat.

Je peux témoigner de votre dynamisme, de votre implication en faveur de la France et des Français installés dans la circonscription ou de passage, ainsi que de votre cohésion.

Elus consulaires, conseillers du commerce extérieur, ilotiers, je vous remercie du temps et de l’énergie que vous consacrez aux causes communes et vous en dis toute ma reconnaissance.

Je voudrais, enfin, avoir un mot pour vous qui vous êtes investies dans Bienvenue à Bombay. D’abord pour avoir organisé ces évènements qui ont réuni presque la moitié des Français de Bombay, avec un grand succès, mais aussi pour les actions, combien utiles, ici que vous avez pu, et su, mener en faveur des nouveaux arrivants.

Dear Indian friends,

I am very happy to welcome you tonight for this celebration.

I won’t inflict the latest statistics of Indo-French trade on you, but I would like to mention two major events.

The first one is Narendra Modi’s visit in Paris the 3rd of June with an aim to bolster the bilateral strategic ties and discuss key issues like terrorism and climate change with our new President.

This visit has, initially, not been planned in the agenda of the Prime minister’s visit to Europe but it allowed both our heads of state to meet for the first time.

As we could expect, emphasis has largely been placed on climate change, - let’s remember that India has been a key player during the 21st Conference on Climate - the Prime minister saying he wanted to go "above and beyond" the Paris Agreement, after the US said it would quit the deal.

The French President took this opportunity to announce that he intends to come to India before the end of the year, among other purpose, to participate in the first summit of the International Solar Alliance.

More generally, the Prime minister and the President, reviewed the main partnerships that link India to France, in terms of technological cooperation, as a part of Make in India, like the Jaitapur project.

In their joint communiqué, largely focused on the fight against terrorism, they pointed out their intention to strengthen our common actions in the fields of intelligence, military cooperation, maritime security and struggle against terrorism promoted through the Internet.

The second event I wanted to talk to you about tonight is “Bonjour India”.

Since 1985, when the French Republic decided to create “Seasons” to celebrate the culture of other countries, India was selected to inaugurate this initiative.
Four years after, in turn, French artists and cultural collaborators came in India to
present their productions.

This dynamic dialogue furthered with the first edition of Bonjour India, a French Festival travelling across India, soon followed by Namaste France, the festival of India in France.

During 3 months in 2013, the second edition of Bonjour India enlarged these exchanges by promoting Indo-French collaborations and co-productions.

Today, the main objective of the third edition is to strengthen them from the heart.
Bonjour India will be set in motion from November 2017 until February 2018.

Far away from stereotypes, the projects are aimed at giving the opportunity to Indian and French artists, students, researchers and professionals, to work together and deepen their mutual understanding.

Bonjour India will be a platform for innovation and creativity focused on social, technological and environmental innovation.

Approximately 60 projects, including 30 in Bombay, are being put in place in 34 cities. They will reach diverse areas of culture, such as formal and human sciences, education, multimedia, arts and sports.

We do think that from these encounters will emerge sustainable collaborations for the years to come.

Such an implementation mobilizes all the French representation in India, including French companies. But this program exists also, in a large part, thanks to the Indian institutions and many Indian partners.

I take this opportunity to express our gratitude for their commitment and support.
What could symbolize my statements better than this evening that has been planned, thanks to you, our patrons, both French and Indian companies.

I would like to close this speech by quoting the last passage of the joint communiqué that concluded the visit of your Prime minister in Paris.

“France and India have a history and they have many shared challenges. We agree on many subjects, not only on some interests but on a common vision. And we must work together because it is our vocation and our shared will.”

As Jawaharlal Nehru said, "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open".

So, let’s keep our eyes open.

Vive l’amitié entre la France et l’Inde

Long live the friendship between France and India

Last modified on 25/01/2019

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