You are the representant of India in France, the embassy is the diplomatic representation of one State to another, it’s the place of diplomatic reception of one State to another. You are an intercessor between two States to facilitate communication between two governments, India and France.
In addition to the mission of representation and diplomacy, the embassy of India ensures a mission of consulate that allows the expatriates to carry out administrative procedures : to the elaboration of civil status documents like birth certificate, marriage, death certificate to identification documents such as a passport or an identity card.
My first question is this: You are a passionate man, what do you think of the place of Indian culture in France and especially Indian tourism in the capital?
France is a popular destination for Indian tourism. Indian tourism has emerged in France in a significant way, especially thanks to Indian weddings in France. It’s important to know that India greatly appreciates French culture, its philosophy, everything that surrounds France with its wealth and diversity.
There are similarities between our two cultures, the French appreciate Indian culture, even if they do not know each other very well, those who are interested in it are mostly really passionate, these are connoisseurs and true enthusiasts of India.
More than 200 years ago, a centre in Paris was created to understand and learn the Indian language. There is a great appreciation of Indian literature and philosophy and everything related to India, such as dance, for example, with Bollywood, the different arts, hand embroidery.
Moreover, I noticed that there are many French brands related to India in the perfume or embroidery sector that are imbued with Indian culture in luxury.
I will give you an example, more and more French people want to visit India, there is a very famous flower in India, the natives have made wine from it, and a French has used this flower to make it a cognac that is very well known in France today in prestigious addresses.
In India, France is associated with luxury and French luxury products are well known and appreciated by the Indian community. French luxury is marketed in India. The French market has opened in India.
For example, the ELLE press group has published 5 magazines on India, about its tourism that is doing well and luxury by also mentioning a 5-week exhibition on Indian art.
This is a step in the right direction and we can still improve by developing festivals and events between our two countries. We have a lot of cultural events in India, there is an event called «hello India», very famous event at the moment, Namasté France! This allows us to take a greater interest in our two countries and to visit them.
Fashion Week in Paris, a key moment in international haute couture, you support this creative axis between the two cultures, with the fashion show of the designers Vaishali Shadangule that met a great success, would you be a fashion lover?
We can’t say that I’m a fashion lover or a fashion victim, it’s the artistic expression, which I appreciate above all. I compare this event to art, like a painter who brings his touch. I compare fashion to art, it brings something, I am very interested in art.
I appreciate and love quality things of which the history of fashion, its savoir-faire, the materials, the price being justified in my opinion, because it’s an art, luxury, design represents a wealth, that of historical value.
The stylist Vaisali remains very traditional with ancient art methods, Indian embroidery, she works the material exclusively of Indian origin. She has been able to incorporate Indian diversity into the European market with materials from different regions in India and shape them and then adapt them to the European market.
It’s a good blend of Indian knowledge and European sensitivity. I was happy to receive her at Paris Fashion Week in the apartment of the Indian Embassy.
Tell us about art and culture in Paris, what do you think?
There are several aspects, the first one is the Parisian life with the culture of bars, cafes, this lifestyle is a real experience, Paris is a city where you can visit different streets and discover the Parisian spirit. Through its streets, it’s an artistic walk that reflects its history and diversity.
There are many cultural events, permanent collections in museums that highlight the culture of other countries as well. Paris has the largest collection of art in the world, and that’s why so many brands and artists are performing in Paris!
There is also music or rather musical diversity, Paris isa very interesting city, journalists from all over the world flock to it.
Paris is a journey in Art, photos, Fashion Week, galleries, museums like the Orsay Museum, the Louvres between Rodin and Picasso! It is a city full of wealth and diversity.
In your opinion, are there points of proximity between our two countries on the theme of culture?
Certainly, there is on the one hand a true closeness to many commonalities, there is a cultural heritage that we nurture and care for over time and on the other hand we have been able to keep our traditional objects in history.
Through cinema and films, our two countries love cinema. We recognize our movies easily whether French or Indian, we appreciate in India the French film and its identity. Classical literature in India is very important!
Food has an important place in India as the place given to gastronomic diversity by France. France approaches food in a similar way to India, which brings us closer together.
Our two countries are very concerned about luxury and it is a cultural point to develop.
Perhaps in the beauty of the film industry?
This year we were present at the Cannes Film Festival. We were able to maintain a cinematic tradition and make a mark with bollywood cinema. France and India have agreed to broadcast Indian films in France and French films in India through production, funding and distribution agreements. We have produced 13 films in 10 years between our countries.
What do you think of France, its history of art, gastronomy and tourism?
France has much to offer in art, gastronomy, culture, as well as its historical heritage such as medieval villages and museums. France is the most visited country in the world, perhaps because of French gastronomy and its worldwide reputation.
I’ve heard American tourists talk and they think everything is better in France, it’s necessarily better in Paris!
Do you think culture brings people together?
Yes! Individual through culture, with common points that will bring us closer and create relationships, friendships.
Culture necessarily has a role to play in bringing countries closer together because it brings hearts and souls together and creates relationships between people. It sensitizes and unites them.
Do you have a French work or dish that you particularly like?
I love everything! French cuisine is an experience of life. It is difficult to make a choice and if I have to choose I have a particular preference for French desserts.
And in art, I prefer the impressionist period. They all knew each other and were all friends, and I also have a preference for photographer Henri Cartier.
If you could change something in the history of culture, where would you start?
That is a good question. At the international level, culture should not integrate the political field. People interpret what is cultural politics and culture is exclusive and proper to itself! It must remain in the cultural domain and serve to bring people closer together and it allows us to redefine the past, what has already happened throughout history.
Do not politicize the culture or the way we perceive culture, separate the two. Culture must be appreciated in its own context and not have the vision of biodiversity. Biodiversity serves to protect the planet !
When culture is perceived from a colonial point of view, it does not provide a good representation of the country or its context and it can forge an idea of superiority or inferiority that has nothing to do with culture.
The last word?
What is good in France, is that we try to preserve culture, the French State knew how to safeguard its heritage even during the Covid-19 crisis.
I also admire the traditional work and handmade, the craftsmanship that has preserved itself to become the reference of luxury in France.
India is one of the most biodiversity-friendly countries, with an ethical standard, and we defend that chain, and I think it’s important to educate consumers. We have values and attach great importance to the traceability of our products.
To finish culture is a bridge to connect societies and thus reunite and unite people.
Thank you for accepting the interview with Luxury Place Magazine