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About Pattrika
This newsletter, conceived to give a glimpse of the many and varied projects conducted by the French research centres in India, circulated for several years as a "dead-tree" newsletter, then as a large PDF file. After a pause for reflection in 2016, we decided to relaunch it in a more convenient online format as a biannual newsletter. This second issue in the new format covers the second half of 2017, with one or two allusions to significant events from just outside this period. Click here for previous issues
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IFP: ifpinfo{at}ifpindia{dot}org

EFEO: administration{at}efeo-pondicherry{dot}org

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Editorial

Fishing, leisure, land for real estate encroachment, dumping site, percolation tank for groundwater recharge, place of worship...: The numerous uses of the urban Kannagan tank in Pondicherry (F. Landy, Jan.2018)

At the time of writing, Bonjour India is in full swing. Between November 2017 and February 2018, over 300 events are being held in 30 cities across India. Our three institutions are involved, since scientific activities are also being showcased.

As far as the IFP is concerned, the workshop Water availability (Nov.20-21, IISc, Bengaluru) revived the Indo-French Water Network, while another workshop, Sustain Indian mangroves! (Jan.19-20, Kolkata) brought together various national and international stakeholders and experts to discuss and analyse this endangered ecosystem with the aim of defining recommendations for research and action.

The Winter School in Social Sciences (Dec. 4-8) held in collaboration with the Lycée Français (French School) in Pondicherry and the Pondicherry University provided new academic and methodological insights to 50 PhD scholars selected from across Indian universities. Lastly, two debates on the notion of Anthropocene and nature-culture relations are being organized at the IFP (Feb. 2) and at the Alliance Française of Delhi (Feb.5). They are open to the public.

Last December, the IFP also launched the Pondicherry-Past and Present smartphone app, an application primarily meant for tourists, based on research by Jean Deloche (EFEO) that had earlier appeared on DVD. This initiative goes hand in hand with the opening of an exhibition on the activities of the Institute that has already received over 3,000 visitors since July (an entry fee is charged). A month-long "mega-sale" of the IFP's old publications was also organized in October during which over 2,600 volumes were sold.

All this reflects the current concern of research institutes in general, and the IFP in particular, to be more open. To be honest, one aim is to find additional resources in these times of budget scarcity. The creation of a foundation (charitable trust) of the IFP, the "Indo-French Foundation for Research and Heritage" (IFFRH), is also a step in this direction. But on a more positive note, it is especially about popularizing science in order to make the public understand better what research is and how it can be "useful", directly or indirectly, while at the same time responding more effectively to requests from certain social and political quarters, often of local origin.

The IFP has just completed a long-term project on Jain sites in Tamil Nadu, financed by external sponsors: this DVD documents 382 sites, many formerly unknown, and offers a unique overview of the Jain culture in South India. The sites can easily be explored using the system of geolocation contained in the DVD, which will also be available as a mobile application later.

Following an order placed by the Government of Puducherry (DSTE), the Department of Social Sciences of the IFP defined "Scenarios for Water and Agriculture in the Pondicherry Region" in 2017. The new Water Pondi project, funded by the Centre-Val de Loire Region, will provide a detailed diagnosis of the situation of two tanks in Pondicherry, Kanagan (see photo) and Ossoudu lake, both in terms of analysis of sediments and groundwater, as well as their socio-economic uses and representations. It will contribute towards establishing a more sustainable management of the "natural" spaces of the Territory. The IFP is also involved in the Smart Cities programme, for which these natural areas must play an important role, both for the quality of life of the inhabitants and for the promotion of tourism.

We remain research institutes, specialising in basic research, whose agendas must be defined by the researchers themselves. But there is scope for applied research, for pedagogy and popularization, for enhancing our outreach to external actors who form our environment.

Frédéric Landy, Director, IFP

Contact: frederic.landy{at}ifpindia{dot}org