“True friend of the French” celebrates Bastille Day in Delhi

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Harjinder Singh Kukreja continued his camaraderie with the French by being part of the Bastille Day celebrations at the French embassy in Delhi along with an array of other dignitaries.  In his journey to strengthen Franco-Punjab relations, he has been present at French functions from St. Tropez to Paris and from Chandigarh to Delhi.

A “true friend of the French” Harjinder Singh Kukreja continued his camaraderie with the French by participating in the Bastille Day celebrations at the French embassy in Delhi. Harjinder, who loves to be known as  a “true friend of the French”, has made his presence in the past at French functions from St. Tropez to Paris and from Chandigarh to Delhi.

In a unique gesture of appreciation and recalling the Punjab-French connection during the times of the Sikh emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh who had a French general as his army chief, the young stalwart, Harjinder Singh Kukreja gifted a unique new painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh with the French general Jean François Allard, to the French ambassador in India and his spouse.  Ambassador Alexander Ziegler was visibly delighted to receive the painting and his spouse too showed keen interest.

“I am particularly enamoured by the story of General Allard who modernised the Sikh army. He was born in St. Tropez and died in Lahore. I thought there could be no better tribute to the Maharaja and his General than a painting of the two to the French on their national day, hence I gifted this painting by a young Ludhiana-based artiste, Ayushi Gupta to the French ambassador” explained Harjinder Singh Kukreja.

Sikhs have always had a cordial connection with the French, having laid thousands of lives for their liberation during the World Wars as part of the Imperial forces of Great Britain. The French Republican national motto of “liberty, equality and fraternity” resounds Sikh values of the brotherhood of mankind and fatherhood of God.”

Significantly, on Bastille Day last year, the bust of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was officially revealed for the French community in India and the Indian friends of France. This year’s French National Day marks a year of that occasion. “The installation of Maharaja’s bust is a milestone in Franco-Punjab relations and I feel proud that I was present at St. Tropez when the bust was made public last year,” said Harjinder Singh Kukreja.

Sikhs have always had a cordial connection with the French, having laid thousands of lives for their liberation during the World Wars as part of the Imperial forces of Great Britain.  The French Republican national motto of “liberty, equality and fraternity” resounds Sikh values of the brotherhood of mankind and fatherhood of God.”

Painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh with French general Jean François Allard

Harjinder Singh Kukreja runs a French bakery and chocolatery in Ludhiana.  Not stopping at this, Harjinder Singh said that he wishes to continue to engage and enhance Franco-Punjab relations by seeking more French investment in Punjab and working for setting up an Alliance Francaise in Ludhiana. “In association with French scholars, there is scope to start a French-Punjabi and Punjabi-French dictionary too.”  “Someday soon, I propose to have a French-Punjabi Cuisine festival in the heart of Ludhiana city.” said Harjinder Singh.  He was quick to add, “without French wine, of course.”

Harjinder Singh wishes to continue to engage and enhance Franco-Punjab relations by seeking more French investment in Punjab and working for setting up an Alliance Francaise in Ludhiana. “In association with French scholars, there is scope to start a French-Punjabi and Punjabi-French dictionary too.” Someday soon, I propose to have a French-Punjabi Cuisine festival in the heart of Ludhiana city, says Kukreja.

Thierry Morel, a French diplomat in India, admired the keenness of Harjinder Singh Kukreja’s participation at French celebrations in India and France and hoped that this will one day fructify into something concrete for strengthening the Sikh-French connection.

Spelling out his next plans, Kukreja said that he looks forward to overwhelming participation of Punjabis in the French social, educational and cultural participation during the Bonjour India celebrations in Chandigarh among the 40 other Indian cities early next year.

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