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Malini Ranganathan: Cultural Ambassador

February 19, 2019

Dr. Malini Ranganathan, a French national of Indian origin, settled in France for the past 35 years, has been conferred the PBSA Award by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind on the 23rd of January 2019 in Varanasi, for dual domains: Academics & Arts. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest distinction given by the President of India to a NRI and only 15 persons per year are selected worldwide. On this occasion, Malini was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, as a State guest of the Khumb mela at Prayagraj and for 26th January Republic Day Parade in Delhi. She is the first lady to be honoured from France.

An internationally known Kathak dance exponent, Malini Ranganathan has performed extensively in India, USA, Canada and Europe, particularly in France where she is settled from 1983. She is officially recognized by the Indian Ministry of Culture, performing for more than 35 years under the aegis of the Embassy of India, Paris, the ICCR, as well as by the French Ministry of Culture and CID-UNESCO and the Who's Who Directory. In 2016, entire cultural festival 'Namaste France' was conceived and curated by her in Nantes.

Equally accomplished in Hindustani and Carnatic music (with nattuvangam under her mother Leela Gopalan), textile designing (from Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai), Sports and Yoga (Convenor of International Yoga Day Celebrations, Nantes, France, 2018), Malini straddles many worlds simultaneously. She is one of the rare Tamilians to have mastered Kathak dance, initially under Guru Damayanti Joshi (Lucknow Gharana), later under Guru Roshan Kumari (Jaipur Gharana). She also learnt Odissi under Guru Mahadev Raut.

A teacher and choreographer of eminence in Kathak, Malini has trained numerous French students. She has also featured in 'Nouvelles de l'Inde' No°421 and No°428; Namaste France Album, Embassy of India, Paris. Apart from performing across the globe, she was the Artistic Director of the Festival d'été,1996 for Nantes City Council. A linguist by interest, Malini pursued her higher studies in France, obtaining both M. Phil and Ph.D degrees from the European University in French qualifying as a Researcher-Professor in Humanities and Educational Science to MBA students. Her specialization in didactics of Cross Cultural Context is a unique and pioneering contribution to the field. She has several international scientific publications to her credit, both in English and in French, besides paper presentations at international conferences. While her vision towards global recognition for Indian dance is driven by her passion for performance, her mission to share the benefits of the art is driven by her passion for teaching, grounded as she is in Indian art and culture.

In an interview at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Varanasi, Malini Ranganathan said, "This award which I accept with great humility reinforces the responsibility of carrying forward the glorious legacy of Bharat, not only with its unbroken tradition over centuries but with a renewed vigour. Whether in India or abroad, it is our Indian identity and culture that helps us strike the right balance between being Indian at heart and living as global citizens. My parents' message had always highlighted the importance of assimilating with whichever country we live in, guided by respect for local customs and protocol, simultaneously orienting them with our unique Indian culture. I thank them and my sisters immensely for their guidance as well as my husband and children for their patience and encouragement, thus enabling me to continue my passion in France. I also thank the Embassy of India, Paris and the members of Association Bindi in Nantes, led by Mr. Rostaing and Mrs. Mazenot for extending their full support to all my Indo French cultural activities."

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