About Us

About US Slideshow

Front facade of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Front facade of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Rear side view of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Rear side view of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Garden of the IFP
Garden of the IFP
Main Indology Hall of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Main Indology Hall of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
The Library reading room of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
The Library reading room of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)
Jawaharlal Nehru Conference Hall
Jawaharlal Nehru Conference Hall
Visit of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) on October 4, 1955
Visit of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) on October 4, 1955
Dr. Jean Filiozat, 1st Director of the IFP
Dr. Jean Filiozat, 1st Director of the IFP
Inauguration of NACLIN 2014 in the presence of former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Inauguration of NACLIN 2014 in the presence of former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, presenting at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on March 23, 2015, the Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour to Pandit S. Sambandan Sivacharya
President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, presenting at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on March 23, 2015, the Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour to Pandit S. Sambandan Sivacharya
Our Status

The French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), UMIFRE 21 CNRS-MAEE, is a research institution under the joint supervision of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It is an integral part of the network of 27 research centres connected to this Ministry. It is also part of the Research Unit USR 3330 “Savoirs et Mondes Indiens” of the CNRS, along with the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi. 

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Historical Review
Visit of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955
Visit of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955

Established under the terms of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India, the French Institute of Pondicherry was inaugurated on 20 March 1955. It was initially engaged, under the leadership of its first director (Jean Filliozat), in the study of Indian civilization and culture, and more particularly in the history and the religions of South India.

In the 1960s, taking over a first research cell created at the origin of the Institute, a Department of Ecology was created to collect information on the conditions and evolution of the environment in South India (vegetation, soil, climate change, etc.) with its focus on the Western Ghats, one of the world’s 34 hotspots for biodiversity.

With the setting up of the department of Social Sciences in 1988, the Institute also extended its interest to the evolution and dynamics of Indian society.

The development of research and the necessity to support it with modern methodologies and equipment led to the creation of a Laboratory of Geomatics (LIAG) in the 1990s, later named Department of GeoSpatial Monitoring and Information Technology (GeoSMIT) in 2017. With it, the Institute acquired modern tools for the representation and analysis of the relationships in space and time between these entities and their environment. The installation of the LIAG as a common tool greatly helped in identifying new areas for research.

The IFP also has a multidisciplinary library. This Centre holds specialized data of the research conducted at the IFP, which is augmented every year through a dynamic acquisition policy. With about 70,000 books, the library is open to the public within a set of rules framed by the IFP.

 
Mission and calling

In terms of Article 24 of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India (1956) the mission of the IFP is to function as an establishment for higher studies and research.

A tool of the French scientific diplomacy, the Institute is reinforcing the Indo-French partnership by its research and training missions. Through its research projects in South Asia, it contributes to making vibrant the cultural and natural heritage of India.

Fields of research
  • Indology: Indian Society, History and Culture: Sources and Resources
  • Social Sciences: Contemporary Social Dynamics
  • Ecology and GeoSMIT: Environment and Sustainable Development
Research Departments
  • The Department of Indology focuses its attention on the key features of classical India, namely, its religions, its literature, its languages (Sanskrit, Tamil, etc.) in order to better interpret and study the foundations of modern India.
  • The Department of Ecology concentrates its research on biodiversity and notably on the functioning of fragile ecosystems (forests, mangroves, etc.), by considering man as an important factor in their evolution. It conducts research that aims to understand and evaluate the biological diversity of natural ecosystems as well as those affected by human impact. This research activity has the related aim of contributing to the establishment of schemes for conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. The high priority accorded to research on palaeoenvironments has yielded a rich and varied collection of pollen.
  • The Department of Social Sciences promotes research on the major questions of society and on the relations between human societies and their environment: social management of water, urban development, demography and social mobility, finance and debt, impact of industrialization on rural systems, diffusion of new technologies, traditional health care systems, health problems related to the spread of transmittable diseases, etc. In the framework of the USR 3330, it also engages in research on economics, international relations, and socio-political issues.
Scientific Orientations and Projects

In keeping with its multidisciplinary nature, the Institute hosts, fully or in part, research projects spread over ten orientations:

Analyses of Sanskrit language and literature

- History of religions (Saivism)

Classical and contemporary Tamil studies

Archeological and religious heritage of South India

- Laboratory of palaeoecology and palynology

- Laboratory of forestry and botany

- Laboratory of management and conservation of ecosystems and landscapes

- Mathematics and informatics applied to Ecology

Health, Medicine, Food and Societies

Urban, Rural and Environmental Changes and Policies

- Economy, Finance, Debt, Labour and Mobility

Technologies, Law and Cultures

Support structures for research
  • A Laboratory of Applied Informatics and Geomaticsnow called GeoSpatial Monitoring and INformation Technoly (GeoSMIT), which applies its expertise in the following areas: digital mapping, utilization of satellite imagery, geographic information systems and modeling, multimedia promotion, smartphone apps. It also deploys its computer resources and information technologies within the Institute. Its documentary collection consists of 3 000 maps and several databases.
  • Documentary resources, comprising of 3 resource sections:

- The Library: The computerized collection comprises in particular: 60 000 books; 800 journals, of which 250 are regularly subscribed

- The Manuscript Collection: 8 187 palm-leaf manuscripts (the largest collection of texts on Saivasiddhanta in the world and registered as such in the "Memory of the World" register of the UNESCO, with the IFP being regarded as a "Manuscript Resource Centre" by the National Mission for Manuscripts of the Government of India); 1 144 transcripts

- The Photo Archives: a collection of 160 000 photographs, of temples and edifices in South India notably.

- And also our herbarium, our pollen collection, etc.

Other missions

Promotion of knowledge The corpus of scientific knowledge at the IFP is made available to social, economic, cultural and political decision-makers in various forms : publications; expertise (in particular, in the area of environment); scientific events ; library ; promotion of scientific culture and technology (information, exhibits, etc.).

Training Within the framework of its research projects, the IFP welcomes, for various tenures, PhDs and masters level trainees of different nationalities (French, Indian, European and others).

    Publications

    The IFP’s research results are circulated through different types of publications :

    • In journals to supervisory committees and in the proceedings of national and international congresses
    • By the Institute: book series and multimedia CD-ROM; position reports or evaluations; maps with notes on the soils and vegetation of South India, smartphone apps...

    Additionally, the Institute publishes a news bulletin, « Pattrika », in collaboration with the CSH in Delhi and the EFEO (3 issues per year). The Institute also organizes scientific events on different themes.

    Personnel

    The personnel of the IFP consist on average of 80 persons:

    • Expatriate personnel on temporary assignment from the MAE
    • Indian researchers
    • Research assistants (engineers and technicians)
    • Administrative and service personnel (archivists, secretarial, maintenance).

    Other than the personnel appointed to the Institute or remunerated by it, the Institute welcomes every year some researchers and research assistants on project contract and financed by outside sources, and experienced researchers and students of all nationalities, associated with projects of the Institute and carrying out resident study for various lengths of time. (for further details, see "Staff").

    Partnership agreements

    Agreements with French institutions: In addition to its agreements with the CNRS, CIRAD, EFEO, EHESS, EPHE, INALCO, General Council of the Reunion Island, Observatoire des sciences et des techniques, ISSC, the IFP has non-institutionalized partnerships with various other universities.

    Agreements with Indian institutions: The IFP has agreements with universities, research institutes and the technical departments of governments (forestry and environment): CEFIPRA, Pondicherry University, Central Institute of Classical Tamil Chennai, Shree Somnath Sanskrit University, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha Tirupati, Sri Chandra Sekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya Kanchipuram, Sri Rangam Srimath Andavan Asramam, Karnataka Forest Department, Sharma Centre for Heritage Education,…

    Other cooperation agreements : The IFP works in collaboration with British teams (British Library and Wellcome Trust) and American teams (CEPF and The Regents of the University of California).

    Operational resources

    Part of the support (direct or indirect) to research projects, is ensured by external resources: Indian (Universities, National Mission for Manuscripts, National Remote Sensing Agency, CEFIPRA); French (Universities, IRD, CIRAD, EFEO, CNRS, ANR, ANRS, MEDD); International (European and American Universities, European Union, World Bank, ILO, Ford Foundation, AUF)

    The budget of the IFP is made up of basic subsidies ( mainly from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and external resources (contracts,...). The scientific programmes are in majority self-financed, the basic subsidy being unable to support them anymore. The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) provides intangible resources (electronic library, lever effect in calls for proposals,...).

    On a utilizable area of 3,000 m2 divided between a building dating from the 19th century, which was recently renovated, and a wing constructed in 2002-2003, the Institute avails of: 26 offices; three laboratories (computer, palynology, botany); two herbaria, one reading room with 30 seats; one conference room with 40 seats; various rooms for the storage of documents, one of which is for the preservation of valuable collections (manuscripts and photos) and one map library; one photographic laboratory; one exhibition hall; five guest rooms.

    The Institute is served by an integrated and state-of-the-art computer network.