Italy and India may seem like two vastly different worlds, but they share a strong bond of friendship that has spanned over two millennia. The two nations have celebrated 75 years of diplomatic relations, and as the saying goes, "Chi Trova un Amico, Trova un Tesoro" - those who find a friend find a treasure.
From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the bustling streets of Mumbai, the two countries share a common thread of culture, politics, and economics. Family life is central to both nations, and the importance of regional diversity and language is deeply ingrained in their societies. Even their love for food is strikingly similar, with Italian pasta and pizza finding a place on Indian tables, and Indian spices adding a punch to Italian dishes.
Our past is alive with moments of appreciation and cross – cultural exchange between India and Italy. The spice route, linking India and Italy for centuries, not only facilitated trade but also shaped our shared heritage. Marco Polo's journey to India in the 13th century left him awestruck by its lavish culture and flourishing trade.
The world of art is indebted to Italy for its timeless contributions, with the masterpieces of da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli revered for centuries. In parallel, Indian art's intricate designs, vivid colors, and profound symbolism have bewitched audiences worldwide. We can also discern the subtle nuances of Hellenistic and Greco-Roman art mingling with the ancient Indian art, particularly during the Mauryan epoch.
As if destiny had woven their paths together, the large Indian diaspora in Italy has only strengthened the Indo – Italian friendship. With over 200,000 Indians living in Italy, the exchange of ideas, traditions, and values continues to flourish.
Both India and Italy have a rich history and are home to some of the most iconic historical landmarks. The ruins of Pompeii and the majestic Colosseum in Rome stand witness to Italy's glorious past, while the Taj Mahal and Red Fort in India reflect the country's rich cultural heritage. The cities of Venice and Alappuzha, also known as the "Venice of the East," and "Venetian Capital" of Kerala are famous for their beautiful backwaters and houseboats, attracting tourists from all over the world.
India and Italy also share a common vision for regional stability, international rule of law, innovation, technology, and sustainability. The spirit of cooperation between the two nations is reflected in their strong economic ties. Italy is one of India's top four trading partners in the EU, with over 700 Italian companies operating in India. In turn, over 140 Indian companies have made Italy their home. The "Make in India" initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 has been instrumental in attracting Italian companies to India and making the country a manufacturing hub.
The India – Italy bilateral relations has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. The new dimension of their relationship was on full display during the visit of newly elected Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to India on 2nd March 2023. She met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was invited as chief guest and keynote speaker at the 8th Raisina Dialogue. During her visit, the two leaders announced elevating the relationship of Italy and India to that of a Strategic Partnership, marking a new chapter in their diplomatic ties. Furthermore, a Startup Bridge was announced between the two nations, for knowledge sharing and market entry support.
Prime Minister Meloni’s visit extended beyond political commitments. It also encompassed Italy’s optimistic economic outlook towards India. To foster business ties, the India-Italy Business Roundtable was hosted on April 2, 2023, by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, and the Italian Embassy in New Delhi. Industry leaders from strategic sectors such as infrastructure, automotive, energy transition, defense, finance, and telecom attended the event from both nations. Furthermore, to celebrate and promote the role of Italian manufacturing in India, the Embassy of Italy in New Delhi and the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a unique exhibition titled "ITALIAN TECH in INDIA - Italian Know-How for India’s Energy Transition and Manufacturing Growth." The exhibition displayed the significant contributions of Italian companies to India's economic and technological advancement, accentuating the best of what Italy and India have to offer each other.
India – Italy friendship is a testament to the power of cultural exchange, economic cooperation, and mutual respect. The ties between the two countries have only grown stronger over the years, and there is no doubt that this friendship will continue to flourish for many years to come.