French people in India

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French people in India
"Peuple français en Inde"
Total population
12,864 (1988)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
French people

The French community in India consists mainly of Indian citizens of French ancestry who are descended from former French settlers, and colonists who settled in India since the 17th century , as well as recent expatriates from France.

Migration history[edit]

The French in India are an artifact of the French presence there, which began in 1673 with the establishment of French India and continued until 1962 when the French territory was formally transferred to India. The French presence was always minor compared with the British presence, and the French in India were generally not a significant portion of the population.

There were 9,950 French nationals residing in India in 2013.[2] Nearly all are in the Union Territory of Puducherry in southeastern India (11,726 individuals in 1988), with much smaller numbers in Karaikal (695 individuals), Mahé (50), Yanam (46), and 342 elsewhere in India. They form a small minority, accounting for less than 3 percent of the present population of Puducherry.

Current status[edit]

Today, Pondicherry still has a community of French people living in the city and French is also an official language. There are 6,500 French people registered in South India, and of these about 5,500 are in Pondicherry. The French Indians are the wealthiest group in Pondicherry (aside from those running the Aurobindo Ashram), deriving much of their income from pensions (some 20 percent are retirees), Social Security, welfare, and other programs of the French government. They are also entitled to emigrate to France, although few do so and the French government does not encourage the practice.

French company in India are present in various sectors such as energy, IT, environment, automobiles, traditional manufacturing industries like St Gobain, and engineering. They also have exporters of fish and other seafood, textiles, leather and luxury goods. L’Oréal has a presence in India, and Louis Vuitton has taken a stake in Hidesign in Pondicherry.[3]

The French community in India is a consolidated group, brought together by a number of different organizations that aim to promote French culture in India. The French Club of Bombay is an organization that unites French speakers living in the city. The club meets at different locations in various parts of Mumbai so that meetings are conveniently located and have a good attendance.[4]

In February 2015, the Indo French Senior Citizens Association staged street protests in Pondicherry to protest against denial of the French nationality and voting rights derived from the "treaty of cession" of French India territories, which guaranteed continued French citizenship to individuals whose birth and nativity certificate had been registered during the French India regime.[5]

Notable people[edit]


  • David-Néel, Alexandra (2002). L' Inde où j'ai vécu: Avant et après l'indépendance. Paris: Plon.
  • Elfi, Nicole (2008). Aux sources de l'Inde: L'initiation à la connaissance. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
  • Gautier, François (2005). La caravane intérieure: Récit. Paris: Les Belles lettres.
  • Gautier, François (2008) Les Français en Inde - Pondichéry, Chandernagor, Mahé, Yanaon, Karikal. France Loisirs.
  • Sethna, K. D. (1987). The obscure and the mysterious: A research in Mallarmé's symbolic poetry. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.

See also[edit]