By Dr. Blandine Ripert, Directress, French Insitute of Pondicherry

This new edition of Pattrika coincides with a certain resumption of research activities, which, although they never ceased, had taken on more isolated forms, oriented towards reading and writing. In the last few weeks, field work has been able to resume, cautiously, while respecting strict sanitary protocols that sometimes complicate interactions. It is to be hoped that our work can get back to "normal" quickly, but the uncertainty is likely to continue for some time. Furthermore, while researchers from our institutions have been able to return to this essential work of collecting information and observing and analysing in situ, this is not the case for our colleagues abroad, in France or elsewhere, whose institutions do not allow them to undertake missions. Likewise, students enrolled in PhD or Masters programmes outside the country are still unable to conduct fieldwork in India. This gives us a certain responsibility to recognize how fortunate we are to be in India, and incites us to seize the opportunity to develop our relations with our colleagues here, both in Indian institutions and in our own, IFP, CSH and EFEO. In this respect, our collaborations take on even greater significance than in the past and resonate with greater breadth, being temporarily deprived of visits from other scholars.

As a recent example of collaboration, the "Exhibition on The Five French Settlements in India as Recorded in Eighteenth-Century Plans (1673-1824)" was held these past ten days at the French Institute of Pondicherry, jointly organised with EFEO and Alliance Française. It was conceived and realised by the regretted Jean Deloche, researcher at EFEO but also affiliated to IFP.

An agreement was signed in July between the EFEO and the French Institute in Pondicherry to strengthen the collaboration of the two institutions in the field of classical Indian studies. In particular, this agreement entrusts the direction of the Indology Department of the IFP to an EFEO member, Hugo David, assigned to the Pondicherry Centre since 2016 and responsible for publications common to both Pondicherry Institutes.

IFP’s team is currently working with the University of Pondicherry to expand our close relationship by developing a framework for supervising doctoral students. There are of course the internet platforms that make it possible to join seminars or distant meetings that were previously inaccessible, but it must be acknowledged that the quality of these types of exchange are not always as good as in co-presence. Although distances have become shorter thanks to these now widely used video-conferencing techniques, collaborations still need that “informal” dimension where so much is at stake.

As the new director of IFP, who has just arrived in this specific context, I can only wish, for this new year, that we further strengthen our links, our collaboration, and also more informally, our exchanges.

Contact: ifpdir [at] ifpindia [dot] org