NATIONAL

French forum honours Narayana Murthy

Paris Oct. 13. N.R. Narayana Murthy, chairman of the software giant, Infosys, today became the first recipient of the newly-instituted Indo-French Forum Medal. The medal, in recognition of Mr. Murthy's role in promoting Indo-French ties, was awarded by the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, here today. The special ceremony at the Prime Minister's office was attended by Indian and French members of the forum as well as the Ambassadors of the two countries.

Expressing admiration for the ``great achievements'' of Mr. Murthy in the software field, Mr. Raffarin recalled that the Indian began his career in France when he worked at the Charles de Gaulle airport, helping systemise cargo operations. Mr. Raffarin who visited the Infosys and Bangalore during his official trip to India earlier this year, said he had been struck by India's mix of modernity and tradition. Mr. Murthy, the French Premier said, symbolised this blend of old and new. He said India and France should pool their resources and create synergies to deal with new challenges of a social and technological nature.

Mr. Murthy, speaking in flawless French, said France had marked him as no other country had. France had helped him appreciate the finer aspects of the Western culture, especially the music of Bach and Chopin. France had now become an intrinsic part of his personality.

In an exclusive telephonic interview with The Hindu, Mr. Murthy said: ``It's a pleasure, a privilege and an honour to receive the medal. I have been influenced very significantly by France in earlier days and it is a great pleasure to be recognised. The majority of my lessons have been learnt in France, those that represent Western values such as the respect of contractual obligations or the realisation that the current generation must make sacrifices so that future generations may flourish. This is a concept not practised in India.''

The forum brings together personalities from the fields of business, culture, science and arts to promote better understanding as well as business and cultural ties between India and France. The forum's meeting is being held at a time when the French economy is on the brink of a recession with zero per cent economic growth and warnings from the European Commission in Brussels about an excessive national deficit.

Despite a high visibility sales trip to India by Mr. Raffarin earlier this year, New Delhi has failed to buy either French arms or Airbus aircraft. India appeared all set to buy Scorpene submarines. But the item reportedly did not figure on the Indian Cabinet's agenda for defence purchases. Talks for the buying of Mirage jets have also languished, it is reported.

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