Alliance française de Delhi is an Indo-French Cultural Centre which specializes in French language teaching, organizing and curating cultural events.
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.
Alliance Française de Delhi is registered under India’s Societies Registration Act, XXI of 1860. It is an Indian non-for-profit organization, both legally and financially independent from its mother institution, theFondation Alliance française. in Paris. AFD is funded through its students’ admission fees (6,262 admissions in 2008), the revenues its Translation cell generates, the receipts from its gallery’s and auditorium’s booking and its members’ subscriptions. Like a small number of Alliance française Centres throughout the world, AFD is given further support by the Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes, which puts a number of French public servants at its disposal, namely a director, an academic director and a library director. Alliance française de Delhi is also actively supported by the French Embassy in India. Since 2006, Alliance Française de Delhi’s Governing Body has been presided by Shree Muthusamy Varadarajan, a former State Secretary for Culture.