Tuesday, 12 June, 2012

Inauguration of the Francke Foundation exhibition

Hon. Hans-Günter Löffler, German Deputy Consul General, Bangalore.
The Francke foundation exhibition was inaugurated in UTC by the German deputy consul general in Bangalore Mr. Hans-Günter Löffler on June 10, 2012. In his speech he talked of the coming together of Indian and German culture and how important it is to learn  from each other.

Rev. Dr. John Samuel Raj talked about the importance of such an exhibition in UTC. He said "The Francke Foundation was founded by the Prof. Dr. August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) in Halle, which is in the eastern part of Germany. Prof. Francke was an outstanding theologian and a visionary as well. He is known for his piety but more than that he is remembered for the great contribution of imparting knowledge with others who did not have access to it." The need for this exhibition according to the principal "is because of someone who is known to all of us – Prof. August Hermann Francke’s famous student, the missionary Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and his colleague Henrik Plütschau. When the Danish king wanted missionaries for his Danish Colony in Tanquebar he did not find anyone suitable or willing among the Danish clergy, and therefore he asked Father Prof. Francke whether he could be of help in this regard. Francke was already sending missionaries to various parts of the world at this time, and he readily agreed to send two young students, who came then in the year 1706 via Denmark to the shores of India and landed in Tranquebar. Both were full of enthusiasm and commitment for modern education following the pattern of Halle and eager to explore their new place." 

He continued "He was followed by more than 50 other missionaries of the Danish Halle Mission. Among them is the famous missionary Schwartz, who was very influential at the Tanjavore court and initiated there a palm-leaf library. All these missionaries because of their incredible passion for scientific education took keen interest in improving the system of education in the native schools they established, and encouraged literacy particularly among Dalits and women. Ziegenbalg started most probably the first school for Indian girls. The missionaries had regular communication with Germany in the form of letters and reports whenever they saw something new. These letters and reports are well preserved in the Halle library."
Today the letters and reports of the missionaries are an indispensable source of research-material for anyone doing research on 17th and 18th century in South India. Therefore scholars in the areas of religion, sociology, mission, anthropology, history, botany, biology etc., take keen interest in the archives of Halle.

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