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A short history of the Institute

IFP Established under the terms of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India, the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) was inaugurated on March 21, 1955.

The IFP (UMIFRE 21) is the biggest of the 26 research centres (UMIFRE) under the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It is a part, along with the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi, of the research unit 3330 "Savoirs et Mondes Indiens".

The IFP’s vocation is to conduct research, expertise and training in the fields of Indology (Classical texts, History and Culture), Ecology (Environment and Sustainable Development), Geo-spatial monitoring and information technology, and Social Sciences, in India and South Asia. It is recognized by the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India (1956) as an “establishment for higher studies and research in India”. Employing Indian as well as European researchers, it is a multidisciplinary institute made of four departments.

Four Departments: Indology, Social Sciences, Ecology, GeoSMIT

- The Department of Indology focuses its attention on the key features of classical India, namely, its religions, literature, languages (Sanskrit, Tamil, etc.) in order to better interpret and study the foundations of modern India

- The Department of Social Sciences promotes research on the major questions of society and on the relations between human societies and their environment

- The Department of Ecology concentrates its research on biodiversity and notably on the functioning of fragile ecosystems (forests, mangroves, etc.), by considering man as an important factor in their evolution

- GeoSMIT (Geo-Spatial Monitoring and Information Technology) addresses environmental vulnerabilities and vegetation changes by using cutting-edge technologies (remote sensing, lidar, GIS, information technology).

The IFP has its own publication series of books, maps and digital products. It is also endowed with unique collections: the largest collection in the world of palm-leaf manuscripts pertaining to the Saivasiddhanta (registered in the "Memory of the World" register of the UNESCO), a photo library of more than 130 000 photos mostly on religious artefacts and temples in South India, a herbarium, a pollen collection, etc. It has also a library collection of almost 70 000 books.

French Institute of Pondicherry website