Night of Ideas on the theme “Close(r)”

The 6th edition of the Night of Ideas, an annual event on the free circulation of ideas and knowledge, coordinated by the Institut français, will be held on Thursday, 28 January 2021. Organised on the theme “Close(r)”, the event will be reinforced in its digital dimension through the creation of 24 hours of Night and Ideas.


24-hr Dialogue & Debate on the theme CLOSE/R in Space and Time.

An event in the physical, digital and electronic spaces.

28 January 2021 - India segment Live from Purana Qila, New Delhi: 8.00 - 10.00 pm (IST) and World segment from 4.00 pm on 28th January to 4.00 pm (IST) on 29th January 2021

To attend, log on to -

The 2021 edition will assume special significance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme “Close(r)” was chosen with the idea of questioning the renewal of our individual and collective relationship to space, the new solidarities that the crisis of our economic and social models calls for, or the role of digital technology in our societies, which shapes more than ever our relationship to the world. The theme “Close(r)” also invites us to question the evolution of our contemporary modes of sociality, and our relationship with others.

Ahead of the event, Ambassador of France to India H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain said: “The Night of Ideas stems from France’s view that everybody should be involved in the making of tomorrow’s world. And indeed, debate is very much a part of French and Indian cultures. At a moment that calls for us to reinvent the post-pandemic world, I am glad to have a panel of high-level personalities from our two countries to reflect on the most important topics of our times.”

More than 200 Nights of Ideas are expected internationally, from India and Seoul to Beirut, from Sydney to Mexico City, and from Lomé to Toronto. Local voices will lead and explore the theme “Close(r)”.

As the global public health crisis restricts international gatherings and the mobility of people, the Night of Ideas will offer everyone the opportunity to follow and take part in an unprecedented digital experience: 24 hours of Night and Ideas, which will cross time zones from the Pacific to the West Coast of United States, promote the free circulation of ideas and knowledge, and make local experiences resonate in a great global live broadcast on social networks. Thus, for 24 hours, the next Night of Ideas will be an opportunity to come “closer” than ever, to strengthen connections and break down boundaries, to interact with other audiences, and to celebrate thinking without barriers.

Over 100 countries and 175 cities in the world will participate in this edition through more than 200 events.

The India segment will be broadcast live from Purana Qila, New Delhi on 28th January 2021 at 8.00 pm with discussions and artistic interludes through two lively hours.

The India segment

A special two-hour segment has been dedicated to India for the Night of Ideas on the theme CLOSE/R with the sub-theme ‘in space and time.’ The first hour will be broadcast across the world on digital platforms, while the second hour will broadcast across India on digital platforms. The event will be held live at a historical site in New Delhi with a small audience, with the discussion and interludes set on stage.

Participants of the discussion:
  • H.E. Mme Barbara Pompili, French Minister of Ecological Transition
  • Prof. Françoise Combes, French astrophysicist
  • Dr Susmita Mohanty, spaceship designer
  • Mr William Dalrymple, writer and historian
  • Dr Christophe Jaffrelot, French political scientist
  • Mr Sanjeev Sanyal, economist and author
  • Mme Nandita Das, Actor-Director-Activist
  • Dr Shashi Tharoor, writer and politician
  • Dr Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment

Moderator: Ms Sahar Zaman, journalist and art curator
Note: Programme and speakers subject to modification. Please register and consult for updated information.

The Interludes
  • 1. Food walk of Old Delhi - Writer Virginia Woolf knew that, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” So why not begin the marathon Night of Ideas with the right fuel, at the right place? Corporate Chef, Indian Accent, New Delhi – New York, Mr Manish Mehrotra and Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain set the tone for the Night of Ideas by exploring the tastes and smells and spaces of Old Delhi wrapped in layers of history spanning space and time. Food is the simplest way to connect and come closer. What is it about food that creates this magic? The memories, the discoveries, the friendship, the travel through history? Isn’t memory the flavour (the parfum) of the soul, as once declared by 19th century novelist, Georges Sand? Explore this and more at 8.00 pm on 28th January.
  • 2. Hyderabad by Night - Bruit du frigo is an urban creation collective bringing together architects, artists, urban designers, mediators and builders to create artistic, participative and contextual projects on public space, combining urban installations, micro-architectures, collective actions and cultural events. The Society to Save Rocks is a not-for-profit entity aiming to preserve and protect the spectacular ancient granite formations of the Deccan Plateau, India. The two come together to highlight the transformation of Hyderabad’s landscape and the consequent change of the geo-heritage and of the use of the public space from the billion age-old boulders to the mushrooming flyovers linking old Hyderabad to the new Cyberabad. How one does reinvent public spaces in the context of a fast-expanding South Asian city, and reconcile this expansion with the geo-natural heritage, and the human need for social interaction with other humans but also its environment?
  • 3. Tête-à-tête with Natasha Sachdeva and SITES by Stéphan Barron – French artist, Stéphan Barron and contemporary Indian artist, Natasha Sachdeva, will showcase their works at the Garhi studios of the Lalit Kala Akademi in Delhi. The interlude takes you into their respective worlds through the open studio inaugurated on 27th January 2021.

    Stéphan Barron’s work has served as ground-breaking research into the combination of classic forms of contemporary art and forms of technological art. He is also at the centre of a form of art in France that fundamentally involves the integration of ecology. Through his work as an artist, he has developed two fundamental concepts: Planetary Art and Technoromanticism, a neologism Stéphan Barron created on the theory of links between art and new technologies, in the context of threats technoscience and economic development posed to Nature. His other research theme is Earth Art, which takes the Earth in its planetary dimension as its basis for artistic creation.

    Natasha is a contemporary artist whose work and perception of space and time is based on her own experience and that of other women who are faced by countless changes in their bodies along with their age. With her new series, recently showcased at the Art Heritage Gallery, the 27-year-old artist explores themes focusing on women’s bodies of different sizes, shapes, and colours. 
  • 4. Nunataq meets Konnakol - For Alexandre Herer, composer and keyboard player, the distance between France and India seemed to have increased since the pandemic. The rhythmic research of his music can be linked to the legendary practice of rhythm in India (konnakol, Carnatic music). For him, this practice of southern India is a symbol of this civilization’s interest in science, figures, rhythm. In line with the masterclass that Alexandre Herer gave to the students of The Dharavi Dream Project, he established links between the beatbox of these young students and his practice of konnakol, discovered during an internship with konnakol master BC Manjunath.

    The remoteness should make it possible to bring these worlds closer together (improvised European groove music, konnakol) in a documentary produced by Onze Heures Onze, a collective of French musicians based in Ile-de-France, working on jazz and improvised music, inspired by contemporary music, electronic, rock. This work is based on digital tools that now serve as a social link, through a round trip aiming to superimpose practices and enrich them mutually. A perfect example of how music brings together cultures, genres and styles.
Night of Ideas is supported by :


French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Institut Français / AOC (Analyse Opinion Critique) / France Culture radio / RFI radio / France 24 télévision / MCD, a radio station in Arabic / France Médias Monde, group in charge of French international broadcasting / TV5 Monde, a French television network


  • Embassy of France in India
  • Institut Français, a French public organisation started by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1907, which promotes French, francophone and local cultures around the world through artistic exchanges: performing arts, visual arts, architecture, the worldwide diffusion of French books, film, technology and ideas.
  • Mrs Sudha Murty & Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy who placed India on the IT map of the world
  • France 24, an international news television network based in Paris
  • Ministry of Culture, Government of India
  • Archaeological Survey of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India, for archaeological research, conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in India.
  • Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s national academy of the arts.
  • The Times Group, India’s one of the largest and oldest media companies.
  • Alliance Française, an international organisation of local societies, for promoting the French language and francophone cultures and to foster exchanges between French speakers and local communities.

Last modified on 25/02/2021

top of the page