Nicolas Gravel stayed as the director of the CSH, completed his contract after 4 years in August 2020. He continues as an associate researcher at CSH.
Nicolas Belorgey was a CNRS research fellow (www.cnrs.fr) at the Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Sciences Sociales, Paris (IRISSO http://irisso.dauphine.fr) and left in November 2021. He conducted his research on the unique ID in India: Aadhaar. He has degrees and experience in political science, economics and sociology.
Bruno Dorin, left on 31st December 2021. He worked as a research head of the “Economics and Development” area of the CSH. Was promoted in 2018 “Chevalier” (Knight) in the Order of Agricultural Merit by the French Minister of Agriculture.
Mathieu Faure is an assistant professor at Aix-Marseille School of Economics (AMSE) since 2011. He came as a CNRS researcher on deputation at CSH. He left in August 2021. He has a PhD in applied mathematics (probability theory) and his research topics include game theory (games on networks, learning), theoretical economics (measurement of inequalities, equality of opportunity).
Bérénice Girard joined as a postdoctoral fellow at CSH in December 2020. She left in September 2021. She is particularly interested in the development of renewable energy-based mini-grids in small towns and dense peri-urban areas. In October 2021 she accepted to be an associate researcher at CSH.
Julien Levesque stayed for four years in CSH as a researcher. He headed the ‘History, Politics and Society’ area of the CSH. He left in 31 August 2021. He also continues as an associate researcher at CSH.
At the French Institute of Pondicherry
Rahim Aguejdad, CNRS researcher, detached at the l’IFP, department of geomatics, left at the end of his 2 years contract after having studied urban growth of Pondicherry.
Nicolas Bautès, Researcher at the Department of Social Sciences left the Institute in August, at the end of a 4 years contract. He remains an associate-member at the IFP.
Sarah Benabou, Researcher at the Department of Social Sciences left the institute at the end of october 2021 at the end of her 4 years IRD’s posting. She remains an associate-member at the IFP.
T. Gopal, a permanent staff, started his career at the IFP as driver in 1992 and in due course of time became the Vaguemestre of IFP. He served the institute with full involvement as an Administrative Support staff, chauffeur and maintained the IFP vehicles until his retirement in December 2021.
Hélène Guétat served the IFP as the head of the Social Sciences Department from september 2017 and left the Institute in August. She remains an associate-member.
K. Rajapandian, a permanent staff, commenced his career at IFP as researcher in ecology and biodiversity conservative in 2019 and had to quit his IFP job in 2021 on personal grounds.
K. Ramanajum, a senior librarian in the IFP library, retired on 31st December 2021 after a career spanning 36 years. He joined the Institute in 1985 as a Research Assistant. Following the creation of the Department of Social Sciences in 1988, he was appointed librarian. Since then, he has worked closely with researchers to enrich the collection of social sciences which is today recognized for its richness and remains among the most consulted in the library. He will be missed both by the library colleagues as well as researchers.
Brice Saunier-Debes, VIA in Geomatic department left at the end of his 2 years contract in November after having developed a smartphone application for the recognition of mangrove tree species.
Jacques Pouchepadass, historian of modern and contemporary India, was born in 1942 in Barsac (Gironde) to a father from Pondicherry and a mother from Bordeaux. Following his diplomat father, he spent his teenage years in India and then in Japan, and obtained his baccalaureate from the Lycée Français in Pondicherry, before coming to Paris to study. After graduating from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and obtaining the 'agrégation' in history, he decided to work on India and for his thesis undertook research on the agrarian history of the province of Bihar in the British period. He became a researcher at the Centre for Indian and South Asian Studies (EHESS Paris) in 1967 and joined CNRS in 1974. He was posted from 1989 to 1993 to the French Institute of Pondicherry, where he was the director and founder of the social sciences department. During his time at the IFP, he opened a new and pioneering historiographical project on the relationship of men and women to their environment, which resulted in his famous book L'Homme et la forêt. This work, carried out in collaboration with the Department of Ecology, showed his great ability to engage in dialogue across disciplinary barriers, which IFP teams continue to promote through their collaborations today. He has played a major role in decompartmentalising Indian studies. He’s missing today to his colleagues and friends, since he died last October.
Maurice Taieb, renowned geologist and co-discoverer of the famous australopithecus Lucy, left this world in July 2021. All those who met him during his stay at IFP in 2000 remember him as a curious, reckless, stubborn researcher, driven by an incredible intuition.
S. Vijayarangan was the Gardener of the IFP since 1985 and maintained its garden with passion until his demise in June 2021. An endemic plant Hildegardia populifolia of Malvaceae family was planted in the IFP garden in his honour.
François Gros, an outstanding Tamil scholar and director of the EFEO from 1977 to 1989, died in April 2021. Born in Lyon on December 17, 1933, François Edouard Stéphane Gros, who was an associate professor of grammar and a student of both André Leroi-Gourhan and Paul Dumont, began his career as a French teacher in Algeria. But he became fascinated with the study of the language and literature of the Tamil language as early as 1963, when he was hired by Jean Filliozat, then director of the EFEO, to work at the French Institute in Pondicherry. It is to his early years in Pondicherry that we owe, in 1968, his beautiful translation into French of the Paripāṭal. As director of the EFEO from 1977, François Gros worked to redeploy the EFEO across Southeast Asia and to consolidate the School's position there, while at the same time overseeing the organization of the Paris headquarters, which involved the creation of a genuine library at the Maison de l'Asie. For he was indeed always a lover of books, texts, and poetry, and it was his desire to understand and make others understand that made him study not only the literature of the Cankam, the corpus of Tamil Bhakti (Tēvāram), and the archaeology of the region (teaming up with R. Nagaswamy for a publication on the city of Uttaramerur), but also contemporary Tamil literature, an interest that resulted in such publications as L’arbre Nâgalinga, a collection of twentieth-century short stories. Deep Rivers: Writings on Tamil Literature (2009) provides an overview of his work. He was also a founding member of many long-standing research programs still going on at the IFP to which he was affiliated, like the Grammatical Encyclopedia in Tamil, the History of architecture in the Cauvery delta, the Historical atlas of South India. He was one of five Europeans to receive the Kural Peedam Award from the Indian government for outstanding lifetime achievements as a scholar.
At the Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient
The eminent epigraphist Professor R. Nagaswamy, former Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, passed away on 23rd January at the age of 91.
Numerous obituaries have appeared in a variety of Indian newspapers (see the selective list below), all highlighting different aspects of his rich and varied life. Several mention his key rôle in the high-profile court case of the “London Naṭarāja”, which culminated in the judgment that the Chola-period bronze statue came from the temple in Pattur, in Tamil Nadu, and the consequent return of the sculpture to India. Others focussed on his combative defense of often contrarian views in recent years, for instance in his 2018 book Tamil Nadu, The Land of Vedas. It is indeed difficult to know what to highlight in such a wide-ranging career, crowned on the one hand by honours, such as the Padmabhushan in 2018, but also full, on the other hand, of controversies. Throughout his life, he made major contributions not only to academic debates, for instance by his published work proposing a revision of the dates of the Pallava cave temples in Mahabalipuram, but he also brought about structural changes that raised awareness of epigraphy and history, for instance by instituting diploma courses in epigraphy, by creating the Tamil epigraphic journal Kalveṭṭu, in which countless Tamil inscriptions have been published, and by appointing district-level archeological officers for copying inscriptions found in temples or on loose stones, and for conducting surface surveys to identify archeological sites. Even after retirement, he remained very actively engaged in academic life, contributing to conferences and publishing books through his own imprint, Tamil Arts Academy, under which name he also maintained a blog (http://tamilartsacademy.com/home.php).
Among his signal achievements on the French academic scene was his publication of a major document of Chola-period history, namely the Esâlam copperplates, which appeared in the 1987 issue of the BEFEO. The following year, 1988, he was engaged at the Pondicherry Centre of the EFEO, where he worked, until 1996, on the project to publish Pondicherry Inscriptions, eventually brought to press in two volumes by G. Vijayavenugopal in 2006 and 2010. Enthusiastic, keen-witted, widely read in both Sanskrit and Tamil, and with a vast breadth of experience of South Indian archeology, Prof. Nagaswamy was always ready to apply his inquisitive and inventive mind to new discoveries and he has inspired many in their study of Indian history.
In January 2021, Guruprashad Arvind and Ramesh, left after having contributed to the preparation of the content for posters and other displays for the “Arikamedu Museum and Interpretation Centre” within the framework of the project “Development of Arikamedu Museum and Interpretation Centre” in collaboration with the Department of Tourism of the Government of Pondicherry.