Anne Genetet interacts with the expat community to listen to their concerns
Ever since she became a Member of Parliament on a ticket of the La Republique En Marche party that rode to power under French President Emmanuel Macron five months ago, Anne Genetet has been engaged in building bridges with a diaspora that is spread across three continents and 49 countries.
Ms. Genetet, a Singapore-based physician who has quit medical practice to fulfil responsibilities of an MP, is on a maiden visit to Bengaluru and Puducherry to interact with the expat community, to “share and learn”, listen to their concerns and appreciate their expectations.
“Many of them don’t really have any strong link with France and I am here to understand the reason… learn first-hand what their problems and their expectations are,” Mr. Genetet told The Hindu during an interview at the French Consulate in Puducherry.
The larger goal, she said, would be to raise the strategic importance of France’s 11th constituency whose arc goes from Ukraine to New Zealand, covering 49 countries over three continents and 10 time zones.
The MP is the voice in the French Parliament of over 92,000 voters, including the over 6,000 French voters in Puducherry.
Given that such a vast constituency lacks a common platform, Ms. Genetet says she intends to roll out by February 2018 a civic tech mobile app that would not only network far-flung constituents but also provide a channel to raise a complaint, propose an idea or make a recommendation.
“I am also keen on raising the profile of the 11th constituency to one of strategic importance to the French government… perhaps even bring about a look-East shift in outlook because the significance of Asia as a region cannot be overstated,” she said.
One of her priorities is to expand opportunities on the higher education front. “We want a higher proportion of Indian students signing up at French Universities and vice versa. Perhaps double the number of Indian students from the roughly 5,000 candidates now by 2020.”
“Even after they graduate and return to homeland, the student community can still serve as important links between the two cultures,” she points out.
Ms. Genetet is also looking to build a base for En Marche! through grassroot-level work among expatriates by volunteers and raise understanding about the government’s centrist policies.
Incidentally, in the June elections, while Ms. Gentet got 71.72% of the overall expat votes in the 11th constituency, Puducherrians (67.2%) had pitched for Thierry Mariani, former Secretary of State for Transport for the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing in the François Fillon III government.
This visit, she must hope, would also reverse perception about En Marche! and the government led by Mr. Macron.
After her interaction with a cross section of French expatriates in the city on the weekend, she heads for Chennai where the Consulate recently opened a ‘Bureau de France’ to offer consular, business monitoring and economic facilitation services besides promoting academic and cultural cooperation between India and France.
Source: The Hindu