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Context: Ending the chill in the bilateral relationship in the past few years, in what Foreign Secretary Vinay M. Kwatra described as “legacy issues” now behind, India and Italy announced the elevation of the bilateral relationship to the level of strategic partnership while also concluding a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation.
Key highlights of the meet:
- The meet led to establishment of a ‘Startup Bridge’ between India and Italy.
- Another important area of mutual cooperation is defence. They also decided to organise the joint military exercises and training courses on a regular basis.
- Italy had decided to join the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI).
- The two countries also concluded a Declaration of Intent (DOI) on migration and mobility.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the eighth edition of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.
- Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is the Chief Guest of the three-day Dialogue.
- Speaking on the occasion, the Italian Prime Minister said, India’s leadership in G20 and the Raisina Dialogue together can send a message of cooperation and peace to the world.
- Raisina Dialogue is India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-strategy.
- The theme of the 2023 Edition is “Provocation, Uncertainty, Turbulence: Lighthouse in the Tempest.”
About Raisina Dialogue:
- It is a multilateral conference held annually in New Delhi, India.
- Since its inception in 2016, the conference has emerged as India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics.
- The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of India.
- The conference is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving a variety of global policymakers including heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials.
- It also welcomes major private sector executives, as well as members of the media and academia.
- It is designed on the lines of Singapore's Shangri-La Dialogue.
- The name "Raisina Dialogue" comes from Raisina Hill, an elevation in New Delhi, seat of the Government of India, as well as the Presidential Palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan
India - Italy Relations- a background:
- 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.
- Peoples 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. The Venetian merchant Marco Polo, during his travels to the east, also traveled to India in the 13th century and wrote about his experiences.
- Indian troops, serving with the British Indian Army, were active in Italy during the World War II. These included the Rajputana Rifles and Gurkha Rifles. The 10th Indian Division took part in the East African Allied campaign against the Italians in Somaliland and Abyssinia.
- Political relations between India and Italy were established in 1947.
- Both countries regularly hold an institutionalized Senior Officials Dialogue (Foreign Office Consultations.
- An Italy-India Parliamentary Friendship Association was established in the IPU Italy Chapter in 2004.
- 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.
- India ranks 19th as country of origin of Italian imports, accounting for 1.2% of Italian imports.
- Main items of Indian exports to Italy are ready-made garments, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, gems & jewelry.
- Main items of import from Italy are general and special purpose machinery, machine tools, metallurgical products, and engineering items. Around 140 large Italian companies are active in India.
- The Joint Economic Commission is an institutional mechanism chaired by the respective Commerce Ministers of both countries.
- There are visits by the Chief of Army Staff, defence ministers of the two countries.
- Lot of untapped potential is there in this field.
Cultural Exchange, Scientific Co-operation etc:
- The agreement for cultural cooperation was signed in 1976. It was replaced by a new Agreement in July 2004.
- An Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation/Cultural Exchange Programme (EPCC/CEP) is signed periodically, under the bilateral cultural agreement.
- An Agreement on S&T Co-operation exists since 1978. The Agreement envisages three yearly action plans under which a maximum of thirty joint research projects can be undertaken.
Indian Community: The Indian community in Italy (estimated at 2.5 lakhs including PIOs) is the third largest community of Indians in Europe after UK and the Netherlands.
Q) Discuss the role of defence in strengthening the India-Italy relations. (150 words)