Love thy neighbour is an almost alien concept in this part of the world, with cross-border tensions a permanent problem. There is a lesson for us though in faraway Europe, where old enemies (and neighbours) France and Germany are still honouring and enjoying a 50-year-old friendship treaty.
The Élysée Treaty was signed by the wartime enemies, way back in 1963. And now to mark the 50th anniversary of the treaty, the two nations are holding weeklong festivals around the world. The festivities in Mumbai will include exhibitions, film-screenings and workshops, hosted jointly by the the Alliance Francaise and the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan.
So why celebrate the event in India? Beata Weber, director of language, Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai, explains, “This treaty is unique, and 18 years after World War II it was signed to end the hatred that existed between the nations. It is a model for the rest of the world,” she says.
And the buzz around the festival is huge. On July 9, the last day of the festival, the hosts have lined up registrations for French classes, expecting 20 applicants. But already 100 people have signed up. “In India, the consulates of France and Germany are competitors — for students, tourists and cultural programmes. So we decided to organize the event together as a mark of friendship,” explains Weber.
Also on the anvil on 9th are film screenings in German and French with English subtitles. “They are short films made by French and German filmmakers together,” adds Weber.
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