As the recent visit by the Italian PM Giorgia Meloni to India paid the importance of how the bipolar world is concentrating towards a multipolar world heading at India.
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The recent visit by Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto after his PM, Giorgia Meloni is another sign of how important the defence deals are between the two nations. New Delhi wants the joint development and production of weapons and Make in India for global reach in being self-reliant. Italian company Leonardo is one of the top ten defence manufacturers in the world, where joint cooperation in aerospace, satellites, and helicopters are some of the key sectors. As the ban from Pakistan is lifted and the failed nation shows a keen interest in Italian torpedoes and armaments, New Delhi has made it clear to Italy about selling weapons to Pakistan. The case of the Marines has been closed in 2021 by the SC since they shot two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012, as every bifurcating point between these two nations is closed, so Rome and New Delhi see a great leap ahead for the betterment of their respective citizens. But before we come to a conclusion in the future we should learn about what were the developments in the past.
1. Ancient relations between Delhi and Rome
The ties of Delhi and Rome are not just recently developed, they can be traced back to Ancient Civilisations of the world where Greek and Indus both belonged to the Indo-European language family that is Sanskrit and Latin. Trade was the most prominent part at that time which flourished over 2000 years and the Italian ports played a mohair role in the introduction of Spices to Europe, the earliest traveller from Italy is known as Marco Polo who travelled towards the east in the 13th century and later Niccolò de’ Conti from Venice set the voyage in 1419 towards the Middle East, Persia, and India.
The foundation of today’s relations can be related back to the earlier times when the intellectual from both sides were exchanged such as the Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore visited Italy in 1926 at the University of Rome, the visit of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1931 on his return to India during the Second Round Table Conference, the revolutionary works of Mazzini of 19th century were praised by the Leaders of Indian freedom struggle, deployment of British Indian Army’s Rajputana Rifles and Gurkha Rifles helped in making the World War II successful, Role of 10th Indian Division in the East African Allied campaign, Support of Italy in India’s membership to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Agreement and the Australia Group.
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2. Areas of Cooperation
- Political relations between both countries were established in 1947 and the year 2023 marks 75 years of diplomatic ties. The later PM of Italy, Giuseppe Conte in 2018 signed agreements including the mutual agreement to counter terrorist financing and state sponsors of terrorism with this Rome extended its support for India’s quest in the Nuclear Suppliers Group
- Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the European Union with a bilateral trade of USD 7.79 Billion in the year 2021, items such as ready-made garments, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, gems & jewellery, machinery, metallurgical products, and engineering items are the major import-export items between the two nations.
- FIAT Auto, Heinz Italia, GIOIA, etc. are among 140 companies that have invested in India, on the other hand, TATA, TCS, Wipro, Engineers India Limited, L&T, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ranbaxy, Raymonds, etc. are the top companies that are operating in Italy.
- The Indian community in Italy is the 3rd largest community of Indians after the UK and the Netherlands, the majority of them are engaged in economic sectors such as agriculture, dairy farming, leather industry, construction works, and service industry. Various initiatives such as the Cultural Exchange Program (CEP) to exchange students for academic purposes, the connection of flights from New Delhi to Rome and Milan in 2014 provided tourist and business opportunities, the Yoga Day celebration in 2015, Sanskrit and Hindi institutes in Italy to teach vedic language and year-long festival of Srijan in 2021 have been held to maintain the soft power diplomacy between the two nations.
- In 1978 an agreement on S&T Cooperation was established to envisage a maximum of thirty joint research projects on Electronics, Biotechnology, Design Engineering, Automotive Technologies, Energy, etc.
- The two countries have a strategic partnership on energy transition and cooperate in areas such as gas transportation, green hydrogen, biofuels, and energy storage. They also jointly organise tech summits on energy transition and circular economy.
- The two countries also exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Indo-Pacific, and cooperate in multilateral forums such as G20. They express concern over the ongoing humanitarian crisis and call for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- The defence has always been an important pillar of India-Italy relations. The Joint Defence Committee established in 2018 encourages a “structured dialogue” between their defence firms. Intensified engagement with the nuclear, missile, and dual-use technology and substances-export control regimes have been supported by Italy. As India is a country that deals daily with the matter of terrorism Italy has opened its hands for support in the matter of banning terrorist organisations such as JeM, Al Qaeda, and ISIS and both countries face immigration of refugees through illegal ways. India also welcomed Italy’s involvement in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and gave Italy new status as a Development Partner of the ASEAN group.
3. Significance of India and Italy’s partnership
- As Italy is the third largest economy in Europe and India is the fifth largest in the world so both countries act as a strong manufacturing base for each other’s markets
- After the BREXIT majority of Indian stocks in the EU are now in the UK, so Indian investors need an alternate way to access the European market.
- The 8th Raisina Dialogue in 2023 gave an increase in cooperation in renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, semiconductors, space, and telecom. India and Italy will continue to strengthen their economic ties, also Make in India and self-reliant campaigns are opening up immense investment opportunities in Indian markets.
- PM Modi’s statement of giving Italy the status of strategic partner has emphasised the support for the key coordination between both nations.
- Italy co-hosted the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties, COP26, in 2021, together with the United Kingdom, and India is one of the world’s major responsible stakeholders in to fight against climate change.
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4. Way Forward
To make a better place ahead both countries shape the international discourse around priorities, creating a multipolar-based world order, improving trade in European Union by enhancing the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BITA), relations between EU and India for adopting a strategy for connectivity in Asia and promoting the ideals like democracy, free commerce, security, and the rule of law will improve India and Italy’s foreign behaviour.