During the course of 60 years, this institution has not only offered lessons in French but also served as a bridge between France and India.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Alliance Francaise of Madras got underway on Saturday with the inauguration of a photo exhibition by the French Consul General in Puducherry Pierre Fournier.

The exhibition, which is part of the AF Madras’ year-long celebrations, showcases photographs from the personal collections of students and from the institutions’s archives.

Functions, dancing, weddings and group photos all paint a picture of a vibrant institution that has evolved with the times. The Alliance Francaise of Madras was established in July 1953. “From 1947 to 1953, it was only a group of persons. We got affiliation in 1953,” said V. Sriram, former President, Alliance Francaise of Madras.

The Alliance in Chennai moved from a small building on Commander-in-Chief Road in Egmore to the LLA Buildings on Anna Salai and then to the present building in Nungambakkam.

Over the years, the profile of students has also changed and from 300 students a year, the Alliance now teaches over 3,500 students, he said. Vikram Phadke, president of the Alliance Francaise in Madras, said that a series of events have been planned to celebrate the anniversary and the organisation’s service to the cause of the French language.

A series of talks on the themes of liberty, equality and fraternity was presented. N. Ram, former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, who spoke on the topic ‘Freedom of the Press and the responsibilities that come with it’, said that there was a need for a code of ethics when it came to social responsibility of the media.

Art critic Sadanand Menon, who spoke on the subject of ‘Fraternity in the age of constant conflict’, said that the feeling of fraternity, of holding hands against oppression, was lost the moment nation states were born. “In the 1930s, there was a discussion as to what kind of nation India would be. Ambedkar wanted a Dalitsthan as Brahmins would dominate, Rabindranath Tagore said a nation need not be only territorial (Mrigmaya) but it can also be ideational (Chinmaya), E V R Periyar wanted a Dravida Nadu. But after the nation was formed, it was not the rule of law but the rule of gun whereby 548 monarchies were forced to join the Indian Union,” he said.

Advocate B.S. Ajeetha spoke on the subject of ‘equality of the sexes: fantasy or possibility?’

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