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A Multi-faceted Presentation

N. Kamala

Managing Editor Kokila Rangachari . Consulting Editor, Kishore Singh

FICCI, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 370, Rs. 2500.00


This is a glossy coffee table book commemorating 60 year of diplomatic relations between France and India brought out under the aegis of FICCI, with messages from the presidents of both the republics, and a foreword by the president of FICCI. However, the introduction by Dileep Padgaonkar signals that the current volume is more than just a pretty coffee table book. The book show-cases wide-ranging, deep interests of the two countries that present areas from history and politics to those of hospitality and tourism. Divided into eight sections, namely History, Politics, Government, Education and Culture; Commerce and Trade; Aerospace and Defence; Agriculture and Food Process-ing; Civil Nuclear Energy; Luxury and Fa-shion; Information Technology and Telecom-munications; Pharmaceuticals; Urban Tran-sport and Infrastructure; Tourism, Hospitality and Wine, this is like a thali meal and we get a taste of all Franco-Indian relations. While it may be tempting to dip into all that is on offer, it would be wise to present some examples taken at random but of interest to at least this reviewer! Dileep Padgaonkar's Introduction deserves special mention in that he puts across a clear and crisp picture of what French perceptions about India were in the 60s and their abysmal ignorance about our country to the present-day scenario where there is some knowledge and respect towards us. From that tongue-in-cheek account of him telling his hosts in the 60s how we Indians park our elephants to the strong presence of Indians and Indian restaurants, artifacts, and all things Indian even in the small towns of France, his is a piece that celebrates this increasing awareness of India without in any way eliding the blinkered view of the past amongst the French. "This is a multi-faceted pre-sentation of Indo-French rela-tions, a must-have for those interested especially in this area or even for those who want to discover new elements about their own country! Kudos to the editors for having put together such a volume! " Aman Nath's article 'Colonie/Colony' is a fascinating read about English obsession with and admiration for French architecture and how that specially influenced Lutyens's master plan of New Delhi, especially the current Rashtrapathi Bhawan that was inspired by the Versailles Palace! In comparing the plan of Delhi to the French architect L'Enfant's plan of Washington DC, he comments, 'But Washing-ton was L'Enfant's city plan for democracy where the Parliament sat at the head of the "body" of the ...

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