France said on Monday it was making all efforts to address logistical and planning challenges to welcome Indian students for the next academic year, as it highlighted strong people-to-people ties as the core of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about lockdowns and suspended events, France proposed several innovative ways to foster the cooperation with India across the scope of their bilateral relations.
The French embassy in India said in a statement the crisis will be turned into opportunities to boost the partnerships in education, research and culture.
"Logistical and planning challenges are being actively tackled to welcome Indian students for higher studies for the next academic year. Thanks to a strong social and public healthcare system, France has taken care of its foreign students on an equal footing with French students, ensuring their safety and well-being. Visas and scholarships have been extended wherever necessary," it said.
For new students, the embassy said France is fully geared up to enable the commencement of the academic year through virtual classrooms, if necessary.
"France has also augmented its proportion of scholarships by 50 per cent - equivalent to Rs 10 crore - for this academic year. These scholarships will be awarded regardless of whether a student starts the semester in India or France, as Indian students are still keen on following their dreams in France," the statement said.
The embassy said it will organise a virtual version of its bi-annual 'Choose France Tour' at the end of September for the intake of students for the 2021 academic session.
This will enable a greater number of French institutions to interact with Indian students, reaching aspiring scholars from all over India, it said.
"At the core of the strategic partnership between India and France lie strong people-to-people ties. As France and India gradually emerge from their lockdowns, enhanced exchanges will pave the way for a new world," said Emmanuel Lenain, the Ambassador of France to India.
"Trusted global scientific collaboration is the need of the hour since no country can achieve a breakthrough alone. Our country recognises that education will play a critical role in shaping a post-pandemic world, and thus reiterates that Indian students and researchers are welcome in France, he said.
On the cinematic front, while the Festival of Cannes will be missed, the film market will be held online in June - as will upcoming professional meetings for the film industry, the statement said.
On the artistic front, in these difficult times, the embassy said it is continuing collaborations with its Indian partners.
India will remain the Guest of Honour Country at the 2021 Paris Book Fair, for which preparations are underway," the statement added.
"The French Institute in India, through its #ifionline programme, is bringing France to Indian homes like never before through films, documentaries, museum visits, online training, dance and music performances," it said.
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