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French envoy steals hearts with tie-up promise

- Ambassador Francois Richier eyes association with NIT-Patna to help Bihar tap nuclear energy

The French ambassador to India, Francois Richier, on Wednesday took a stroll at National Institute of Technology (NIT)-Patna and assured close educational ties with the institution.

The ambassador, who is on a three-day trip to Bihar, is looking for “close co-operation” between India and France in sectors such as education, agriculture, science and technology.

He agreed in principle for a tie-up with the NIT and a French technical university. However, the university with which the NIT-Patna would tie-up would be discussed later.

Addressing students, teachers and senior NIT officials Richier said: “The French government is seriously thinking of having a tie-up with NIT-Patna in research and development, exchange of students and faculty.”

In France, more than 75 per cent power is generated from nuclear energy. Thus, the ambassador believed that NIT-Patna and a French university could jointly explore the nuclear energy potential in Bihar.

The visiting guest also spoke on joint research in agriculture because both Bihar and France’s economy is agro-based.

“After the recent cyclonic spells in India and other south-east Asian countries, the importance of research in climate change has increased. In this direction, too, the two institutions can have a close tie-up.”

At the session, some students raised the visa relaxation issue for Indian students who plan to pursue higher education in France or seek employment.

Richier assured them that the French government has decided to make the visa application norm easier so that potential students can visit France.

He said stress would be given on launching English language courses so that students don’t face problems after landing in the European nation.

The ambassador had met chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday. Richier said there is huge potential in Bihar and the French government is serious about investing in the Indian state.

“After meeting the chief minister of Bihar last evening (Tuesday), we are thinking of bringing investment to the state. Apart from academic relations in areas like history, social science, archaeology, there is good potential in railway, transport, tourism, food processing and mechanical construction. The chief minister briefed me about the developmental works he is doing in the state, especially in the field of electricity,” said Richier after visiting Sonepur Mela.

He added: “I have come here to explore the possibilities in different sectors and I must say it was a fruitful visit.”

After two decades a French ambassador has visited Bihar. France has invested in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Gurgaon and Gujarat but not in Bihar. Richier said France has invested $ 18 billion in 2013 in India.

On what made a France envoy visit Bihar after two decades, Richier said: “I think there’s development in the state now. For any investment, things like power and road play a big role. These things have improved in Bihar. I will go back and tell the companies in France regarding the investment possibilities in Bihar.”

The representatives of industry bodies, too, met Richier on Wednesday on the sidelines of his felicitation organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at a hotel in Patna.

The Bihar Industries Association (BIA) sought co-operation in education and tourism sectors. The CII Bihar chapter chairman, S.P. Sinha, the BIA president, Arun Agarwal, BIA taxation committee chairman S.S. Khadaria and Mahila Udyog Sangh’s Usha Jha were present at the event.

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