Science beyond borders with a cultural twist-Art-and-culture News, Firstpost

In conversation with Dr Nicolas Gherardi, head of the curatorial team for Science Beyond Borders exhibition. The exhibition will trace back the common history of India and France in the field of science.

The Science Beyond Borders exhibition showcases the shared scientific history of Indo-French collaborations. This exhibition, curated by the French Institute in India and its partners, has been conceived specifically for this particular edition of Bonjour India. Indeed, 2022 is a special year, during which India is celebrating 75 years of independence. That is also 75 years of diplomatic ties between the Republic of India and the Republic of France.

Dr Nicolas Gherardi, head of the curatorial team for Science Beyond Borders says, “The Bonjour India festival has thus been thought of as a gift made by France to India for this anniversary. It came naturally to our minds that telling the story of the relations between the two nations would shed some light in the very foundations of this mutual friendship. Though not always very well known, scientific partnership is an important aspect of this mutual friendship. ”

Hence, beside for example the Indian space program which is probably the most visible product of the scientific collaboration between India and France, the two countries have partnered in a wide range of disciplines, from mathematics, medicine to biodiversity, to name a few. Gherardi explains, “One of the objectives of this exhibition is thus to make known this common history to the general public. Another objective is to excite professionals and students, so that they usher in a new era of scientific collaboration between our two countries. We know that sharing the holistic, interpersonal side of scientific interactions does more to spring people into action than delving into the technical details of scientific discoveries. Hence, this is the intention of the Science Beyond Borders exhibition. ”

The oldest traces of common history between France and the Indian subcontinent date back to medieval history, especially in the field of knowledge. Thus, in order to put some perspective to it, it appeared clearly to the curatorial team of the French Institute, that the story had to dive deep back into the ancient world, in the exchanges that appeared between European scientists and philosophers, and the civilizations that emerged in Southern Asia.

This is why this exhibition focuses, in some sections, on ancient discoveries that shaped and caused the prolific scientific and technological achievements which happened all along the 20th century and onwards. When it was conceived in 2021 as the history of science initiative, this was a small-scale academic exercise. That it has evolved into a traveling exhibition in five cities with the involvement of industry and institutional giants, reveals the traction of the subject and the curiosity it piqued. Since its announcement not very long ago, a few platforms have come forth to share their own stories as well as others who want to share it with their audiences.

The exhibition does not claim to cover the entire gamut of this important and extraordinary, though lesser-known, history but is small step forward in bringing this out of archives and institutions and research papers and personal memories. This history needs to unravel further, and we are hoping students and professionals and historians and writers and journalists and corporates and academics and film makers will get associated and enrich this history further. Is this a science exhibition? Is this a history exhibition? At the end of the day, this is the story and interaction of the people of India and France, of adventure and knowledge sharing and fellowship.

The initiative will take visitors through some rare snippets of the prized Tata Central Archives, give them a peek into Airbus’ geospatial digital platform, bring to fore some brilliant records from the Institut Français de Pondicherry, a repository of international research in cultures, environments and societies in South Asia, and delve into the experiences, memories, testimonies of many brilliant personalities, from India and France.

It will throw light on lesser- known stories like the electrification of the Indian Railways. Bring to the visitors satellite images of Indian cities from space. Let them find out about the largest herbal study project on the Indian sub-continent. It will also give them the opportunity to explore the story behind the precise calculations that led to the creation of Jantar Mantar. Learn about the first person in India to take to the skies and hear about how the Indian space program kicked off in the 1960s. Science Beyond Borders will let you engage with the fascinating stories of discovery and research, travel, and innovation.

Bonjour India’s events are thoughtfully crafted to delight and entertain, and in most cases are freely accessible to the public. They are tailored for neophytes and enthusiasts alike, serving as venues where families, school children, young adults, and others, mingle, discuss, explore, and forge memories and experiences that are remembered for a lifetime.

The opening ceremony of ‘Science Beyond Borders’ exhibition is on 12th April 2022, 7pm at India Habitat Center, New Delhi.

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