​​Dr.Achyutrao Apte

The   Association of Friends of France, popularly known as AFF,is the brainchild of two likeminded individuals, coming from two different backgrounds but having the same human vision.

Dr.Achyut Apte studied for his Doctorate in France, During his long stay there; he was immensely impressed with the French way of life and had made many friends. After coming back to Pune, he continued his friendship with French people.Dr.Guy Deleury was one of them.

Dr.Deleury came to India in 50’s completed his education and took his priestly orders. Along with a myriad of other activities, he devoted himself to a study of the “Warkari Sampradaya”, the famous devotional tradition of the pilgrims of Pandharpur.

In 1966,he returned to France to visit his family and friends and taking the advantage of his long stay, spoke to audiences, both large & small, directly or through mass media like radio and television. He spoke only on one theme i.e.India,its past and its present, it’s gods and its children, it’s women, its peasants, all that he had come to appreciate as a true friend of the country. After numerous speeches, many among the audiences would come up to him and ask for more information.

Dr. Deleury was in constant touch with his friend in Pune, Dr Apte.To the ever-growing curiosity among the French people about India.Dr Apte provided an answer with formation of an organization in Pune, VIZ.”The Association of Friends of France”. Now Dr.Deleury could confidently advise his audiences to “Come to India.”

Taking inspiration from his Indian friend,Dr Deleury,first in Paris and then in other parts of France, formed a group “Friends of France”, which in the course of next 10-12 years metamorphosed first into “Friends of India” and then to encompass the whole eastern continent in “Perspective Asiennes”.

“Association of Friends of France” received in 1967, a group of 110 French men and women from all walks of life for a month long stay in Pune. Today over 40 years down the line and after yearly visits of French groups to India and vice versa it can be said that the efforts put in by the entire Pune city in 1967 have certainly borne fruit.

In these more than four decades of Friendship, about 3000 French friends have come on visits and stayed in Pune,Jalgaon,Nasik,Kolhapur,Panaji and Bijapur.They are offered a varied program each year taking into account the previous feedback and our own previous experiences. The themes and issues handled, change in nature and depth from time to time.

Dr.Guy Deleury