Babu Karani’s French Journey

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Babu Karani

M. Babu Karani

“People are great not because of their deeds in life, but by the legacy they leave behind to follow in life.” These were the prophetic words imparted to me by Mr. Babu Karani when I suffered the loss of a cherished relative. Ever since he passed on, these words constantly resonate in my mind, egging me on to carry forward his dream. 

Mr. B.J. Karani, a veteran and a pioneer of Indo-French cultural exchanges spanning over more than four decades, breathed his last on January 18, 2014. Despite being an octogenarian, he was a dynamic entity who loved to interact with people. Babu Karani’s involvement with France was an accidental stroke of destiny. Informal cultural exchanges between India and France were conspicuously palpable during the late 1960’s. When he was to enroll himself in an engineering programme in 1969, he inadvertently stumbled upon an article, relating to a few French nationals who had successfully constructed a barrage in a village in Pune. His curiosity to discover french culture  steered him to trace their whereabouts and to finally meet them. Thus, the foundation of his cultural pursuits with France were laid and his ensuing visits to the hexagonal country proved to be extremely fruitful and rewarding.
He took the help of friends and acquaintances to observe and comprehend the manner in which the French conducted themselves. He wanted to blend in with the locals by absorbing their customs and gaining insight on their savoir-faire, their suavity, sophistication and sensitivity, encapsulating in all, their social skills and graces. He also embraced the rich culture that their country had to offer. Motivated to foster his aspirations, he embarked on an Indo French cultural exchange, where he gave tangible form to his coveted dreams and founded the East West Cultural Association, Mumbai (EWCA) in 1980. The mission of this exchange was to strengthen the bond of friendship between these two cultures at the very grass root level. Developing a bond with the French was akin to a personal mission for Karani, and over the next 45 years, he was abundantly rewarded by the immense love and affection that was reciprocated to him by innumerable French nationals, many of whom had visited our country and had an equal admiration for India.
Karani’s association with Alliance Francaise dated back to 1970. In 1980, when Dr. Yves Beigbeider, the Directeur of Alliance Française at that point in time, invited him to join the Managing Committee, he consented enthusiastically and from then on, continued to remain a part of this institution till his very last day. He firmly believed that though Alliance Française and EWCA were independent units in their own domain, they were, in fact, two sides of the same coin. His association with both these organizations was an outcome of his inherent love for France. In addition to his immense contribution to the promulgation of French language and culture, his altruistic service in support of non-profit organizations had not gone unnoticed either. In his personal capacity as a management consultant for conducting training workshops, he willingly supported several associations like Sukh Bhumi (for environmental rehabilitation in tribal villages) and Jnana Prabhodinee (as a facilitator in providing education to children in remote villages) among others, to teach the fundamentals in human resources as well as time management to improve efficiency and achieve better results.
Although Karani’s passion for cultural activities can be compared to but a few, he has remained a great source of inspiration and has set an outstanding example for others to follow in his footsteps.

 Article écrit par Ramya Mahesh

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...