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French Cultural Center, Alliance Francais, New Delhi

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Alliance française de Delhi was formally established on 30 June 1956, on the initiative of Mr Ghulam Naqshband, following a proposition made by Claude Journot, then Cultural Counsellor with the French Embassy. In 1948 an Indo-French house (“Maison franco-indienne”) had already been created and gathered a small number of Francophiles from the intellectual elite of the capital. This structure had its name changed into “Cercle français” in 1952 and organized film projections, exhibitions and musical programme as well as an annual gala which was very much “en vogue”. Alliance française de Delhi’s first Governing Body had 13 founder members — among which five women — all dedicated lovers of the French language and culture, such as A. L. Allia Ram, one of the founders of the “Maison franco-indienne”, Ghulam Naqshband, who held the very first classes at his own house, Dewan Jarmani Dass, who had learnt French at the court of the Maharaja of Kapurthala, or I. P. Singh, who had been a French teacher in pre-Partition Lahore. French classes were first held in a residential bungalow in Lutyen’s New Delhi. In 1960, the first Academic Director was appointed in the person of France Bhattacharya, wife of the celebrated Bengali poet Lokenath Bhattacharya. AFD would later move to New Delhi’s South Extension and stay there from 1967 to 2004. Alliance française de Delhi celebrated its 50th anniversary in late 2007. A rich one-week cultural programme drew several thousands of visitors and supporters.