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May 23, 2018
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Recalling the Puducherry connectionIceland, Chinese Ambassadors visit Union Territory

The week gone by featured some frenetic action on the diplomatic front. In an extreme rarity, the city was simultaneously hosting two Ambassadors — of China and Iceland — while its resident diplomat the French Consul General was off to Delhi in connection with the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Iceland Ambassador to India Thorir Ibsen was in the city for the launch of the Icelandic Cultural Festival (March 9-16), while the Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui was participating in a symposium on Chinese scholar and artist Hu Hsu.

Both the diplomats would stress on the ties of their respective countries with this former French enclave.

Mr. Ibsen drew gasps from the audience when he pointed out that the first Icelander to India had visited these shores as far back as the 1620s — Jon Olafsson who came as a gunner on the Naval ship to Tranquebar (Karaikal) would write a travelogue that continues to be an oft-cited tome for researchers digging up insights on life in this part of the world in the 17th century. “The travelogue continues to move quickly off Amazon,” Mr. Ibsen said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador noted that Hu Hsu, also known as Xu Fancheng, had lived in Puducherry for 27 years (1951-78).

The scholar regarded as the ‘modern Xuanzang’ lived in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and went on to translate numerous works by Sri Aurobindo as well Sanskrit treatises. During his stay here, Hu Hsu also churned out several paintings, many of them still preserved at the Ashram.

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Be adept in English: L-G

With Puducherry, a former French outpost attracting a large number of tourists particularly from non-Tamil speaking areas, there is every need for the police personnel managing the traffic to possess knowledge in English. This was asserted by Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi while addressing a meeting of traffic police personnel at the Police Training School in Gorimedu on Sunday.

Ms. Bedi started ascertaining as to how many personnel at the meeting could communicate in English. She made a strong case that police personnel should be adept in English so that they could proficiently discharge their duties.

Contributed by M. Dinesh Varma and S. Prasad