About the French Institute of Pondicherry

Our status

The French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), UMIFRE 21 CNRS-MAEE, is a research institution under the joint supervision of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It is an integral part of the network of 27 research centres connected to this Ministry. It is also part of the Research Unit USR 3330 “Savoirs et Mondes Indiens” of the CNRS, along with the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi. 

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Fields of Research


Indian Society, History and Culture : Sources and Resources

Social Sciences

Contemporary Social Dynamics

Ecology and GeoSMIT

Environment and Sustainable Development

Visit of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955

Historical Review

Established under the terms of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India, the French Institute of Pondicherry was inaugurated on 20 March 1955. It was initially engaged, under the leadership of its first director (Jean Filliozat), in the study of Indian civilization and culture, and more particularly in the history and the religions of South India.

In the 1960s, taking over a first research cell created at the origin of the Institute, a Department of Ecology was created to collect information on the conditions and evolution of the environment in South India (vegetation, soil, climate change, etc.) with its focus on the Western Ghats, one of the world’s 34 hotspots for biodiversity.

With the setting up of the department of Social Sciences in 1988, the Institute also extended its interest to the evolution and dynamics of Indian society.

The development of research and the necessity to support it with modern methodologies and equipment led to the creation of a Laboratory of Geomatics (LIAG) in the 1990s, later named Department of GeoSpatial Monitoring and Information Technology (GeoSMIT) in 2017. With it, the Institute acquired modern tools for the representation and analysis of the relationships in space and time between these entities and their environment. The installation of the LIAG as a common tool greatly helped in identifying new areas for research.

The IFP also has a multidisciplinary library. This Centre holds specialized data of the research conducted at the IFP, which is augmented every year through a dynamic acquisition policy. With about 70,000 books, the library is open to the public within a set of rules framed by the IFP.

Mission and Calling

In terms of Article 24 of the Treaty of Cession of French Territories in India (1956) the mission of the IFP is to function as an establishment for higher studies and research.

A tool of the French scientific diplomacy, the Institute is reinforcing the Indo-French partnership by its research and training missions. Through its research projects in South Asia, it contributes to making vibrant the cultural and natural heritage of India.