Monday, October 22, 2007


France – The other word for beauty.


France Fashion image courtsey:

Its language poetic, people beauty-conscious and fashionable, its beaches clean, and mountains romantic, altogether the word France spells, class and charm. Top artists poets, philosophers, revolutionaries all jointly add a touch of unearthliness to this part of the land. A model state in secularism, which treats people of all caste and creeds equal and a paradise of human independence and innovativeness, France has always approached issues in a philosophical angle (the recent ban of girls wearing veil at school, and people dressing odd to expose their religious faith had attracted much ire from fundamentalists, but France stood firm on its principles), this firmness is something unthinkable to other countries which ardently vouch secularism in every breath. .


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France Flag

France is in Western Europe, with an area of 547,000 Sq. KM and population of over 64 million. Its literacy level is 99% and leading religion is Roman Catholic (85%) but Protestants (2%), Jews (1%) and Muslims (Muslims 10%) also contribute sizable percentage. Capital is Paris -the most fashionable city in the world- main port is Bordeaux, France has number one position in attracting the largest number of international tourists. It is a democratic republic and the President is Nicolas Sarkozy and the Presidential Palace is Elysee. France is a member of the European Union and hence its currency is Euro (formerly it was Franc) common to all European Union members. Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Garonne are the rivers and Cannes (the film city) Lyon, Toulouse, Chinon are its big cities other than Paris and Bordeaux.

Bards, patriots, martyrs sages.

There is no dearth for great men in France and to cover them this three page article is not enough, so only very few names could be mentioned for brevity.

Jean Baptiste Poquelin (popularly known as Moliere) the French dramatist, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Honore de Balzac, Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas etc are just some of the few names, Jean Paul Sartre (the ‘existentialist’) and Albert Camus were the most influential writers of the yester years.

Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior and Paul Poiret are some of the world famous fashion designers who made Paris great. Jean Luc Godard, Luc Besson, Jean Renoir, Jean Vigo are wizards of the film industry.

Paul Cezanne, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and Claude Monet etc are painters internationally acclaimed.

Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Simone Weil and Voltaire etc are world renowned philosophers who played roles in framing French minds.

Pierre and Madam Curie, Laurent Lafarge, Antoine Lavoisier, Claude Levi Strauss, Louis Pasteur, Andre and Edouard (discovered pneumatic tires for automobiles) and Andre Lwoff etc are pioneers of scientific revolution. There is no end to the French names of Nobel Prize winners.

Joan of Arc is the French Icon for woman power as well as an unsolved mystery where as Napoleon, De Gaul were makers of history. Giovanni Da Perasano, Cartier and Jack etc were all great sailors behind the colonial ambitions of France whose expeditions made France able to reach international waters.

‘Assets and liabilities’ of a bygone era.

The European part of France is the ‘Metropolitan Region of France’ where as French Guiana of the South America, Guadeloupe and Martinique of in the Caribbean Sea, Reunion Island of the Indian Ocean are the Overseas Regions coming under French Republic. In addition to these Overseas Regions there are small parts of lands by name Moose Overseas Regions known by name collectives like St. Pierre Michelob, Wallis and Petunias etc. Some mini-islands like French Southern Land, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, some islands in the Indian Ocean etc also are part of the French Republic. All these regions enjoy the same rights as the other regions of the Metropolitan France. These former colonies are to an extent some ‘assets’ or ‘liabilities’ of the former colonizing era.

Shedding its load.

France since long time has been one of the world forces and its antagonism with Britain is also prehistoric, as both along with Spain and Portugal were rivals in colonizing spree that reigned two centuries back. When Britain outpaced in physical grounds France

excelled in spiritual world with its long array of great men. The post World War 2 situations were not congenial to a colonizing nations as a whole and France in particular as repression was not its cup of tea. France found it hard to suppress the rebellions spread across its colonies and it thought it better to let them go their way. Now the core of the nation remains to be ‘The Metropolitan France, while four former colonies that still remain are known as ‘Overseas Regions’

The French Revolution (1789)

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French Revolution

Perhaps of the great events France has contributed the world to remember its ‘French Revolution is the greatest. It is a slogan of the radical that ‘revolution is the celebration of the people’ the French Revolutions was a ‘celebration’ of the people in all sense a celebration of blood! France was ruled by King Louis 14th an embodiment of inefficiency. And its assembly had three houses known as ‘estates’, Lords, Clergy and Commons. The commons who scrambled for more power quit the house and took pledge of revolt in the Tennis Court’ pledge and made the king sign a treaty to assign powers to the commons. Later the foolish king dismissed the Prime Minister and tried to dissolve the Assembly. That was the bursting point it all started with the breaking of the Bastille jail and in the ensuing mayhem (‘reign of terror’) about 40,000 perished.

Charles De Gaul the father of Modern France.

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The post World War II developments were time of agony for all European nations and France was no exemption, its problems were accentuated by a coalition government with parties of contradictory policies and a president with no real powers to straddle the nation. When the government crumbled public election was held on 1958, French people elected the ‘Gaullist Party’ led by Charles De Gaul and he assumed power as Prime Minister. By 1958 Charles De Gaul was elected the President of French Republic and thus France set the first foot to its thousand mile journey to become one of the most powerful nations in the world.

One nation many republics.

France was a colonial power and it controlled about 9% of earth’s land area, its vestiges are scattered all through the continents even now. It all started with the annexing of Acadia of North America (1605) and did end when Algeria that last colony that was freed in 1962.The history has marked the French Republic in to several stages and the early colonial period is the ‘First French Republic.

It is Napoleon the ‘author’ of the second Republic, with the annexing of Algeria he could set the ball running and progressed with capturing Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos forming Indochina, and even partly swallowing the giant nation China as well as many parts of Africa.

After the defeat of Napoleon in the hands of Britain; rebellions followed and in 1871 the National Assembly was formed this was the Third French Republic with a newly formed constitution. During this is a golden period in the history of France and it could rise to the status as the second world power after Britain.

The Second World War altered all scenes and Germany played the role of the villain by attacking and capturing many parts of France and De Gaul had to go on exile to Britain; there he formed ‘The Free France Movement’. Germans could not rule France with ease and had a tough time facing the Guerilla warfare under Macquis. Final assault by the Alliance forces put an end to the vicious German rule; De Gaul returned to rule giving birth of the Fourth French Republic as usual with a new constitution.

The ‘Fifth Republic.

By this time France was in shambles facing so many rebellions and fighting so many wars; drastic measures alone could revive it. De Gaul was quick to find the root-cause of France’s illness; he modified constitution and made the post of President as the real source of power who will be elected directly by the people. The weak executive -which could not handle ever spreading irresponsible revolutions-, was made strong and this helped to contain rebellions. Automations and modernizations were introduced into farms and factories. The economy France as a result became modern and competitive; French army was also strengthened and modernized and France came to possess the hydrogen bomb –the ultimate statement of technological superiority.

In Anti American band-wagon.

France rose to the status of an atomic power but De Gaul was not a good friend of America, he opposed the American superiority in NATO and got the Americans to remove the atomic weapons stored in France removed. France began to flex its muscles in the international affairs too; De Gaul supported communist China’s membership in the UN and sent the NATO Army away from France to the ire of the big brother. France could launch satellites to space expressing its progress in technology.

Habits die hard.

His own success proved to be his worst enemy, in a move to contain him one resolution intended to change constitution was defeated and De Gaul left the political scene with a wounded ego to his native village to lead a private life. Why people of France revolted against De Gaul is still discussed, one explanation is that a lot of people lost jobs and livelihood due to modernization and automation initiated by De Gaul, but in the forefront were students and youth; for whom loss of jobs was no issue negates this claim. One conclusion is that strike, street demonstrations and rebellions were resorted by the people of France to gain justice for a long time and they all got addicted to this habit and they could not contain it for long and they did not want De Gaul to go!

Trucks that run over the French.

The recent serial strikes by truck drivers of France to get early pension also can be cited as an example for this habit of eternal revolt. Strikes are for them a peoples’ celebration, where will it lead the nation remains to be seen. When Bernard Thibalt of the truckers union (General Union Confederation) gets angry; whole France shiver with fear, even its President, Prime Minister whole great men and common people included! Cry for this beloved Nation which frequently gets run over by heavy trucks! The hands that hold the steer ring must be given a chance to rule so that roads may not be blocked thereafter and at least people could travel.


Anonymous said...

Read your article abt France.
Paradise of human independence- It's true . But I don't agree with the statement that " treats people of all caste and creeds equal" For interviews they look the name & reject. So we are forced to give a French name to kids. When I came to France, I can't find a tanned face on French TV. After last year's riots the situation is changing. Now a days you can see beur (for arabs) & blacks(for Africans)in French TV.
Yeah, France is a nice country.
But we can see "Unity in diversity" only in our motherland India.

Abhilash said...

I have been dealing with French for several projects. They are nice people and always keep time and word.

I read the article. Good one.