India is no longer trapped in florid clichés of Bollywood, spiritual nirvana and spices but is increasingly seen as a major partner and power in the world. On the contrary, India is a major partner and power in the world and playing an increasingly important part in international relations.
Till recently, India was synonymous with Bollywood, spirituality and spices. Just like France, which is identified with good food, good wine and good living. But all that stereotyping is changing now.
Exotic myths that earlier clustered around India are becoming passé; in its place is an economically and technologically assured country confident of its global destiny. We have to get rid of clichés. India is becoming increasingly important politically, economically and culturally. France is very attracted to India.
Stark contrasts, so typical of this country, however, persist. In this country of a billion-plus people, there is a huge contrast between poverty and health, between elegance and misery.
Now, there is a big interest in France for India. Everybody is conscious now of India’s economic know-how, knowledge, technology and high education.
It’s not that France has woken up to many charms of India only recently. There has always been an interest in the history and culture of the country. We know India through contemporary novels and Indian art, painting and sculpture.
As we in France balance relations with other major powers, we need stronger relations with India. There is no doubt about that.
Anne Vidal de la Blache is director, French Diplomatic Institute, France’s leading institute that trains diplomats.