SUBJECT :Smart City 

 French architect Le Corbusier connects France to India through Chandigarh. The French want to take this old connection forward and re-engage with the “City Beautiful” to make it the best “Smart City” of the 21st century that will attract foreign investment and help the city retain its title of being the best city in the country.

Speaking to The Tribune, France’s Ambassador to India François Richier today emphasised the need for taking forward the old French connection with the city. The Ambassador said: “Given its beauty and lively culture, Chandigarh’s reputation is enough to justify the French President’s visit to the city.”

President François Hollande, who is the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year, arrives in Chandigarh on January 24. He will spend a few hours in the city before leaving for Delhi.

Richier pointed out that Le Corbusier was born in Switzerland but became French after marriage. “Le Corbusier was French when he came to Chandigarh and this ‘double culture’ is very important.”

It was this old connection that drew a large number of French tourists to the city every year. “We had an exhibition on Chandigarh in Paris last year highlighting not just the Corbusier connection but also other aspects of the city.”

France, which has committed to developing Chandigarh along with Nagpur and Puducherry under the “Smart City” project, looks to lay special focus on “City Beautiful”.

Richier said Chandigarh with its culture and skilled people would attract more foreign investment once it got the “Smart City” tag. To this effect, the French President will meet CEOs from several Indian and French companies in the city and a number of agreements are expected to be signed.

On whether high-rise buildings should be allowed in the city, he said: “It is an Indian city and a Union Territory. It is neither our responsibility nor our right to get into a discussion on this.” But he emphasised that France was ready to “partner” in the development of Chandigarh. He hoped the application to grant world heritage status to Chandigarh would go through at UNESCO this year.

On the turban controversy, the Ambassador said there was no ban as such on the wearing of turbans by Sikhs in France. He pointed out that there was a “strong consensus” among the French people in this regard and the law was against any “ostensible religious signs”, which included the Christian cross and the Islamic scarf. But the rule was applicable only in French government schools.

“If you ask the French about the role of the Indians in World War-I, everyone remembers the sacrifice of the Sikhs,” the envoy added.

French President’s India visit

Day 1   Jan 24 in Chandigarh

French President Francois Hollande will stay in Chandigarh for almost five hours and PM Narendra Modi will accompany him throughout the visit

  • 1 pm Will land at the Chandigarh airport
  • 3 pm To visit Rock Garden, Sector 1
  • 3.30 pm To visit Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10
  • 4.50 pm Will address the Indo-French Business Summit to be attended by business tycoons at Hotel Taj
  • In evening, will fly to New Delhi
Day 2   Jan 25 in Delhi

  • 10 am Will attend formal reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • 11.15 am To meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
  • 12 noon To meet the PM and sign MoUs at Hyderabad House
  • 3.30 pm Will inaugurate Solar Energy Secretariat in Gurgaon
  • 8 pm To attend banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Day 3   Jan 26 in Delhi

  • To attend Republic Day parade
  • Will meet the French community and attend French Embassy programmes
  • 5.20 pm Will receive formal farewell at Rashtrapati Bhavan before leaving for France

— Nitin Jain

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh