In conversation with Dr. Nicolas Gherardi, head of the curatorial team of the exhibition Science Beyond Borders. The exhibition will trace the shared history of India and France in the field of science.
The exhibition “Science Beyond Borders” shows the shared scientific history of Indo-French cooperation. This exhibition, curated by the French Institute in India and its partners, has been specially designed for this special edition of Bonjour India. In fact, 2022 is a special year as India celebrates 75 years of independence. This is also 75 years of diplomatic relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of France.
dr Nicolas Gherardi, Head of the Science Beyond Borders Curatorial Team, says: “The Bonjour India Festival was therefore commemorated as a gift from France to India on this anniversary. It naturally occurred to us that telling the story of the relationship between the two nations would shed some light on the very foundations of this mutual friendship. Although not always well known, the scientific partnership is an important aspect of this mutual friendship.”
Aside from, for example, India’s space program, which is probably the most visible product of scientific collaboration between India and France, the two countries have collaborated in a wide variety of disciplines, from mathematics to medicine to biodiversity, to name a few. Gherardi explains: “One of the aims of this exhibition is therefore to make this shared history known to a broad public. Another goal is to inspire professionals and students to usher in a new era of scientific collaboration between our two countries. We know that sharing the holistic, human side of scientific interactions does more to inspire people to act than delving into the technical details of scientific discoveries. This is therefore the intention of the exhibition Science Beyond Borders.”
The oldest traces of common history between France and the Indian subcontinent date back to medieval history, particularly in the field of knowledge. In order to give the French Institute curatorial team some perspective, it seemed clear to the French Institute curatorial team that the story had to delve deep into the ancient world, into the exchanges that were emerging between European scientists and philosophers and the civilizations that arose in South Asia .
For this reason, this exhibition focuses in some sections on ancient discoveries that shaped and caused the productive scientific and technological achievements of the 20th century and beyond. When it was conceived in 2021 as a history of science initiative, it was a small-scale academic exercise. The fact that it has developed into a traveling exhibition in five cities with the participation of industry and institutional giants shows the appeal of the topic and the curiosity it has aroused. Since its announcement not so long ago, some platforms have emerged to share their own stories as well as others to share with their audience.
The exhibition does not claim to cover the full range of this important and extraordinary, if lesser-known story, but is a small step forward, extracting it from archives and institutions, research papers and personal memories. This story must continue to be unraveled, and we hope that students and professionals and historians and writers and journalists and business and academics and filmmakers will band together and continue to enrich this story. Is this a science exhibition? Is this a history exhibition? At the end of the day, this is the story and interaction of the people of India and France, of adventure and knowledge sharing and camaraderie.
The initiative takes visitors through some rare slices of the valuable Tata Central Archives, gives them a glimpse of Airbus’ digital geospatial platform and brings to light some brilliant records from the Institut Français de Pondichéry, an archive of international research into cultures, environments and societies in South Asia and immerse yourself in the experiences, memories and testimonies of many brilliant figures from India and France.
It will highlight lesser-known stories like the electrification of the Indian Railways. Bring visitors satellite images of Indian cities from space. Let them know about the largest herbal study project in the Indian subcontinent. It will also give them the opportunity to explore the history behind the precise calculations that led to the creation of Jantar Mantar. Learn about the first person in India to take to the skies and how India’s space program began in the 1960s. Science Beyond Borders shares the fascinating stories of discovery and exploration, travel and innovation.
Bonjour India events are carefully designed to delight and entertain and in most cases are free to the public. Tailor-made for both newcomers and enthusiasts, they serve as places for families, school children, young adults and others to meet, discuss, explore and make memories and experiences to last a lifetime.
The opening ceremony of the Science Beyond Borders exhibition will be held on April 12, 2022 at 7pm at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi.
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