France that Exists in India…….
Today’s Pondicherry comprises of a community of French people living in the city and French is one of the official languages here. Around 6,500 French people are registered in South India; whereas 5,500 out of them are in Pondicherry. The French Indians are the wealthiest people in Pondicherry. Besides them there are people running the Auroville Ashram. A lot of these French people derive much of their income from pensions (some 20 percent are retirees), Social Security, welfare, and other programs of the French government.
They are also entitled to immigrate to France. But only a few of these Indian French want to emigrate. French government too does not encourage them to come back.
The French community in India mainly comprises of the Indian citizens of French origin who had settles in India during the 17th century when they came with the French East India Company to invade & trade with India and finally ended up settling here. There are still more recent migrants who have come to India from France for they like the country, its people and their culture so much so they have chosen to settle, mostly in South India and places around.
The French community in India is a group of close-knit people who have been brought together by a number of organizations that take care of their need to be a support for their likes and also to promote French culture in India. The French Club of Bombay is one such organization that helps the French people living in Mumbai to satisfy their emotional and existential need of belongingness. The club meetings are held at different parts of Mumbai so that it is convenient for the people to attend these meetings in good numbers.
Protests by People in Pondicherry
In February 2015, the Indo French Senior Citizens Association staged protests in Pondicherry against the French Government. They did so in order to protest against denial of the French nationality and to get their voting rights derived from the “treaty of cession” of French India territories, which guaranteed citizenship in France and also ensured them their voting rights. These are the French people whose birth and nativity certificate had been registered during the French India in the 17th century.
Distribution of French Population in India
In 2013, there were 9,950 French nationals residing in India. Most of these people are settled in the Union Territory of Puducherry in south-eastern India. As compared to Puducherry, there are other cities in the south India which have much smaller number of French People who are living in Karaikal (695 individuals), Mahé (50), Yanam (46), and 342 elsewhere in India. They form a small minority in Puducherry and are less than 3 percent of the present population there.
What led them to stay in India?
By 1850, the British had taken over most of India away from other European powers and from the clutches of the Mughals. They the French who chose to remain back in India after the French occupied territories had been won by British to settle in four small areas of the South Indian Territory. Pondicherry was their central hub. The British tried to acquire the French occupied India but did not succeed.
So, even when India won independence from British Rule, the French stayed on. Neither the Indian population in Puducherry nor the emigrated French population seem to mind the latter’s stay. Even after the French Government decided to leave India in 1954, a large number of their Indianised French stayed on. Having adapted to their new land they seem to be rather comfortable to be there. Governor Law de Lauriston had rebuilt the town after it was completely destroyed with all the structures and the dwellings were reduced to dust during the various wars the French fought with the British in the past.
Designing Puducherry, the French City in India-
The French laid their streets in a formal grid pattern. This was White Town where the French lived in Puducherry. Over the canal, or Drain, the Tamil quarter or the Black Town grew. In its own natural way, the Tamil, the original natives lived comfortably in their own Black Town and so did the French in their White Town. Most of the great fine mansions were built by the wealthy traders.
Presence of French in India in Various Fields
Today the French companies have their presence in India, in various sectors such as energy, IT, environment, automobiles, traditional manufacturing industries like St Gobain, and engineering. They are also the exporters of fish and other seafood, textiles, leather and luxury goods. L’Oréal has presence in India, and Louis Vuitton has taken a stake in Hidesign in Pondicherry. A lot of designer brands now have their presence in India, a global phenomenon, just like any other brand presence India or Indian Brands go do the same in other countries.