History of India-Italy relations
India and Italy are ancient civilizations but young states as the unification of Italy took place in 1861.
These two ancient civilizations have known, interacted, and traded with each other for over 2000 years.
- During his travels to the east, the Venetian merchant Marco Polo also travelled to India in the 13th century and wrote about his Experiences.
- Niccolò de’ Conti left Venice in 1419 to visit the Middle East, Persia, and India.
- Modern-day contacts between the two nations were formed through exchanges between intellectuals from both sides.
- India and Italy are ancient civilizations but young states (Italy having been reunified only in 1861).
- The classical languages, Sanskrit and Latin both belong to the Indo-European language family.
- People of these two ancient civilizations have known, interacted and traded with each other for over 2000 years.
- Italian port cities were important trading posts on the spice route.
During his travels to the east, the Venetian merchant Marco Polo also travelled to India in the 13th century and wrote about his Experiences.
- Political relations between India and Italy were established in 1947.
- The two countries enjoy cordial relationships. There has been a regular exchange of visits at political and official levels between both countries.
Trade and Investment
- Italy is among India’s top 5 trading partners in the EU. The balance of trade has been in India’s favour since the early eighties.
- The bilateral trade witnessed strong growth till 2007 before the worldwide recession of 2008 led to a marked slowdown in the Italian economy, which had an adverse impact on the bilateral trade.
- India ranks 19th as the country of origin of Italian imports, accounting for 1.2% of Italian imports.
- The main items of Indian exports to Italy are ready-made garments, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, gems & jewellery.
- The main items of import from Italy are general and special purpose machinery, machine tools, metallurgical products, and engineering items.
- The agreement for cultural cooperation was signed in 1976.
- It was replaced by a new Agreement in July 2004.
- The Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between Italy and India entails the exchange of students in language programmes as well as other academic courses.
- The Embassy of India launched the year-long Festival of India in Italy ‘Srijan’ on 18 Jan 2021.
- The festival aims to connect with Italians and present to them with an opportunity to experience the richness of India’s architecture, history, literature and languages.
- An Agreement on S&T cooperation has existed since 1978.
- The Agreement envisages three yearly action plans under which a maximum of thirty joint research projects can be undertaken.
- This agreement was replaced by one signed in Nov 2003.
- Some of the prime areas of joint research are Electronics, Biotechnology, Design Engineering Automotive Technologies, Energy, etc.
- Defence cooperation has traditionally been an important pillar of India-Italy relations.
- An MOU on Defence Cooperation was signed in November 1994.
- The Indian Army has a historical connection with Italy.
- The 4th, 8th and 10th Indian Divisions, with more than 50,000 troops, played a significant role in one of the bitterest advances of the allied forces for the liberation of Italy in the Second World War.
- The Indian community in Italy (estimated at 2.4 lakhs and 25000 PIOs) is the third largest community of Indians in Europe after the UK and the Netherlands.
- According to official Italian data, there are 1.65 lakhs legal Indian migrants year 2020 (As per official data with the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy: Year 2020) accounting 4.4% of the non-EU citizens and 5th largest foreign community in Italy.
Science, Technology and Research Collaboration
- Welcomed the progress made under the India-Italy Science and Technology Cooperation and the India-Italy Executive Programme of Cooperation.
- Welcomed the establishment of Thematic Working Groups as a method of work between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as well as the creation of the first joint ASI-ISRO working group in heliophysics.
- Heliophysics is the study of the effects of the Sun on the Solar System.
India-Italy Strategic Partnership in Energy Transition
A Joint Working Group was established by the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Energy, signed in Delhi in October 2017. The group was tasked with exploring cooperation in areas like:
- Smart Cities, mobility; smart-grids, electricity distribution and storage solutions.
- Gas transportation and promoting natural gas as a bridge fuel.
- Integrated waste management (“waste-to-wealth”).
- Green energies (green hydrogen, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) & Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), bio-methane, bio-refinery, second-generation bio-ethanol, castor oil, bio-oil –waste to fuel).
The green corridor Project was envisaged to synchronize electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid.