France reiterated its support for India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council with the French ambassador in India Jerome Bonnafont saying India, Brazil, Germany and Japan should be included as permanent members.
“How can such a body to pretend to solve the problems when India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are not sitting at the table,” Mr. Bonnafont asked at a meeting at the University of Madras on Tuesday.
Speaking on the eve of Bastille Day or La Fete Nationale [July 14] commemorating the start of the French Revolution, Mr. Bonnafont said India and France shared the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and an unconditional desire for peace.
The two also believed in the United Nations as a parliament of nations and in finding solutions to the world’s problems through mutual dialogue. It was natural then that France supported India’s bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council, he said.
Addressing students, Mr. Bonnafont said the next generation would face the problems of ensuring sustainable economic development and the maintaining of global peace.
“The biggest challenge you have to confront is the ecological challenge. How do you allow each person to pursue what they want without damaging the ecology. This requires expertise from politics, economics, biology and other fields. Clearly the recipes of the West are not sufficient and we need to combine the knowledge of Europe with ideas from Asia, Africa and other regions,” he said.
While “nothing justifie[d] terrorism,” Mr. Bonnafont said there was still the need to address concerns that were being used as pretexts by terrorists. Among these were the bringing of peace to troubled parts of the world such as Afghanistan and bringing economic development to backward regions.
Science and technology could be used for good or for bad and it was up to Universities to provide a moral education along with the imparting of knowledge to create a peaceful society, he said.
The ambassador praised the recently concluded World Classical Tamil meet saying that it was important for nations to hold firm to their cultural identities in the era of globalisation. On the controversy about the wearing of the veil by communities in France, Mr. Bonnafont said the idea of secularism demanded that such beliefs were not brought to the public sphere.
He said parents were free to send their children to private schools and individuals were free once they reached adulthood to choose to wear the veil. But the government would not allow it in public schools for children. At the same time, the burqa and the hijab were being banned because they were offensive to the dignity of women, he said.
He called India a “metaphor for globalisation” on how people with different languages, religions and political ideas could live together peacefully. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s scheduled visit in December would further strengthen the ties between the two countries, he said.
Vice-chancellor G. Thiruvasagam presented a set of twelve volumes of the English translation of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s works. He talked about the close association of the University with France and called for further development of ties.
Mr. Bonnafont also presented the Officier des Palmes Academiques to Hema Parthasarathy, head, Translation and Interpretation Cell, Alliance Francaise, Chennai, and the Chevalier des Palmes academiques to Chitra Krishnan, head of the French and Foreign Languages department, University of Madras.