New Delhi, Jul 8 : As many as 65 Indian students today picked up scholarships from half a dozen companies to pursue higher studies in France in disciplines ranging from music, language to technology.
The awardees included graduates in engineering, management, information technology, computer science, classical music, painting and French.
French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont noted a four fold increase in recent years in student mobility from India to France-- yearly 2,000 departures-- but said it was not nearly enough.
France would like to welcome at least 4,000 Indian students every year, he said.
''I do not accept that language is a barrier as Indian students already speak so many languages, they learn very quickly, there are more than 27,000 Chinese students in France, and I don't think they are better at languages.'' The three-year-old programme is put together by the French embassy in New Delhi with the help of Campus France, a higher education agency, Alliance Francaise, French and Indian firms and Regional Councils in France.
The programme co-sponsored by Orange Business Services, Thales, Krishnakriti Foundation and Alliance Francaise gained new support this year-- BNP Paribas, Air Liquide and Neemrana Foundation.
As often as not, such participation may turn out for companies to be an investment in future employees.
For instance, Orange Delhi head Sandeep Murgai handed out scholarship certificates to 13 engineering graduates to specialise in IT, networks, telecommunications and management information systems.
The recipients will study at Institut superieur d'electronique de Paris or Ecole Superieure d'Ingenieurs en Genie Electrique and get hands-on training at Orange, with the possibility of being hired.
Air Liquide India chief Philippe Roujon spoke of similar plans for three engineering graduates from Kolkata his firm sponsored.
The French Embassy supports 300 students annually through different scholarships. In March, the French Foreign Ministry announced 25 Eiffel excellence grants to Indian students.
Not all awardees know French and will have an opportunity to learn the language.
On the other hand, Nidhi Mahajan, one of 12 best students from the network of 16 Alliance Francaises in India, will study at University Lumière Lyon 2, hoping to become a teacher of French.