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March 2007

UNITING PEOPLE: Jean Monnet

- Alain Bernard

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and to recall the vision and contribution made to European unity by the exceptional personality of Jean Monnet, a number of events were organized from 31st January to 10th February 2007 at the India International Centre in New Delhi.

Left to right: Alain Bernard, Dr. Karan Singh and Ajoy Bagchi at the Jean Monnet exhibition.Photo Courtesy Auroville Radio.


Following an initial proposal from Auroville, the programme was co-organized by seven organizations: the Delegation of the European Commission, the Embassy of France in India, the Centre de Sciences Humaines (New Delhi), the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe (Lausanne), the Pavillon de France (Auroville), the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and the India International Centre (IIC).

The three-fold programme under the theme ‘Uniting People' featured a 10-day exhibition, a day-long seminar, and a final round table discussion with experts, former ambassadors, and ambassadors from the European Union, Germany , and France . The seminar was inaugurated by Dr L.M. Singhvi, with Dr. Karan Singh giving the keynote address on the Ideal of Human Unity.

The exhibition, prepared by the French Pavillon in Auroville, provided a glimpse into the extraordinary life and achievements of Jean Monnet, a Frenchman little known in India , whose life is in itself an inspiring story. Monnet was a man who was never elected to public office, never part of any government, never ‘in the seat of power'; a man who never held any diploma, or commanded armies, or aroused the enthusiasm of crowds through oratory; yet this “Statesman of the world” as John F. Kennedy called him, exerted a huge and lasting influence on the most influential minds of his time. A philosopher in action, Monnet embodied great values which can be described as universal but which happen to be at the core of Indian philosophy, expressed by the ancient Sanskrit saying, vasudhaiva kutumbakam or ‘the world is one family'.

Using Monnet's own words as well as rare archival photos, the exhibition recounted this story. The exhibition also evoked the essence of the European Union, the construction of which Monnet was largely responsible for, and one which is probably an adventure without precedent.

The exhibition was prepared in Auroville as a project of the Pavillon de France by Christine Devin, Claude Arpi, and Alain Bernard. Aron Nicolet was the artist who, inspired by the words of Monnet and Sri Aurobindo, created paintings for the thirty-two panels.
This exhibition will be shown in Auroville this August.

 

 

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