|Type||French Research Institute|
|Established||21 March 1955|
|Director||Dr. Pierre Grard|
|Website||French Institute of Pondicherry|
The French Institute of Pondicherry (French: Institut français de Pondichéry) UMIFRE 21 CNRS-MAEE is a French financially autonomous institution in Puducherry, India, under the joint supervision of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It is a part of the network of 27 research centres connected with the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. It is also part of the research unit 3330 "Savoirs et Mondes Indiens" of the CNRS, along with the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi. It is a branch of the Institut français en Inde, based in Delhi.
Established under the terms of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India, the French Institute of Pondicherry was inaugurated on 21 March 1955 under the name "Institut Français d'Indologie". It was engaged, under the leadership of its first director (Jean Filliozat), in the study of Indian civilization and culture, and more particularly in the history and the religions of South India.
In the 1960s, a department of ecology was created to collect information on the conditions and evolution of the environment in South India (vegetation, soils, climate changes, etc.) with its focus on the Western Ghats, one of the world’s 34 hotspots for biodiversity.
With the setting up of the department of Social Sciences in the 1980s, the institute extended its interest to the evolution and dynamics of the Indian society.
The Laboratory of Applied Informatics and Geomatics (LAIG) was set up in the 1990s.
The institute has a Centre for Documentary Resources (CDR), which came into being as the result of a major restructuring of three research libraries in Pondicherry. The centre holds data of the research conducted at the IFP, which is augmented every year through an acquisition policy. The CDR is open to the public.
From Tradition to Modernity, a document released on the 50th anniversary of the IFP, traces the history of the institute from its inception to the present.
Dr. G. Thanikaimoni, whose scientific contributions have been recognised worldwide in the field of palynology finds mention in Eminent Indian Botanists Past and Present. He directed the palynology department for over 20 years and assembled one of the largest collection pollen morphology slides in the world. Dr. Thanikaimoni was a proponent for the conservation and protection of mangroves in Asia.
The institute hosts research projects spread over ten orientations:
Two "transversal structures" support the research departments:
Promotion of knowledge: The scientific knowledge at the IFP is made available in forms including publications, expertise, scientific events, library, information, and exhibits.
Training: In the framework of its research projects, the IFP welcomes PhDs and Masters level trainees of different nationalities (French, Indian, European and others).
The IFP's research results are circulated in publications:
The institute publishes a news bulletin Pattrika in collaboration with the CSH in Delhi and the EFEO (three issues per year). The institute organizes scientific events.
With respect to its branch of research in Indology, the French Institute of Pondicherry has a collection of 8,600 Hindu religious manuscripts and similar records, forming part of India’s National Mission for Manuscripts. Comprising 8,187 ancient palm-leaf bundles, 360 paper codices and 1,144 recent paper transcripts, it is the largest collection of manuscripts primarily transmitting texts of the Saiva Siddhanta tradition of Hinduism.
The collection was started in 1955 by the institute's founder-director, Jean Filliozat, who desired to explain the Hindu temple and what happens in it. The manuscripts were gathered from collections of temples, priests and monasteries across South India and brought to the institute with the intention of preserving, transcribing and translating them. Four volumes of a catalog describing in detail the contents of 4,000 texts transmitted in 475 of the palm-leaf bundles were published in 1986, 1987, 1990 and 2002. Cataloging has continued using flatbed scanning and digital photography technology in conjunction with a computerized database.
The collection was registered in the World Memories of the UNESCO in July 2005 and was declared a national treasure of India by the Indian government. The institute was declared a "Manuscripts Resource Centre" in 2004.
The personnel of the IFP consist of about 80 persons:
The institute welcomes researchers and research assistants on project contract and financed by outside sources, and experienced researchers and students of all nationalities, associated with projects of the institute and carrying out resident study.
Agreements with French institutions: In addition to the agreements with the CIRAD, the CNEARC, the EFEO, the EHESS, the EPHE, the ENGREF, the INALCO, the INRA, the IRD and the Universities of Aix-Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Paris (I, III, IV, VI, VII, X, XII), Rennes and Rouen.
Agreements with Indian institutions: There are agreements with universities, research institutes and the technical departments of governments (of forestry and of environment): Calicut University, Indian Space Research Organization, Jawaharlal Nehru University, National Mission for Manuscripts, National Remote Sensing Agency, Physical Research Laboratory, Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture, etc,
Other cooperation agreements: The IFP works in collaboration with European teams (from Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, etc.), as with teams from America and South and South-East Asia (Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan): American Institute of Indian Studies, Washington and Lee University, University of Jaffna, University of California, University of Michigan; Swarthmore College; Eastern University of Sri Lanka; University of Toronto; Autonomous University of Barcelona; Dartmouth College; Durham University; Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis; Harvard University; Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Développement; Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologica Ambientals; Kyushu University; National Herbarium Nederland; National University of Laos; Oxford University; Pontifica Universita Gregoriana; Ruhuna University; University College; University of Copenhagen; University of Heidelberg; University of Kent; University of Leiden; University of Minnesota; University of Sussex; and Victory University.
Part of the support for research projects is given by external resources: Indian (universities, National Mission for Manuscripts, National Remote Sensing Agency, CEFIPRA); French (universities, IRD, CIRAD, EFEO, CNRS, ANR, ANRS, MEDD); international (European and American universities, European Union, World Bank, ILO, Ford Foundation, AUF).
The budget of the IFP is made up of subsidies (mainly from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and external resources (contracts, etc.). The scientific programmes are in majority self-financed, the basic subsidy being unable to support them anymore. The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) provides intangible resources (electronic library, lever effect in calls for proposals, etc.).
On a usable area of 3 000 m2 divided between a building dating from the 19th century, which was recently renovated, and a wing constructed in 2002-2003, the institute has 26 offices; three laboratories (computer, palynology, botany); two herbaria; one reading room with 30 seats; one conference room with 40 seats; rooms for the storage of documents, one of which is for the preservation of valuable collections (manuscripts and photos) and one map library; one photographic laboratory; one exhibition hall; four guest rooms.
The IFP has three vehicles; two of them are "cross-country" vehicles.