link between India and Italy is based on common values: Vincenzo de Luca
In this interview, Italian Ambassador to India, Vincenzo de Luca talks about the importance of culture in relations between India and Italy.
Vincenzo de Luca, the Italian Ambassador, has been a career diplomat since 1989. Over the years, he has held several positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in diplomatic representations in Khartoum, Tunis, Paris (at the Permanent Representation to of the OECD), and in Shanghai, where he served as Consul General for four years. He has long-standing expertise in the internationalization of the economic system of the public and private sector, both in Central Offices, as Diplomatic Advisor to the Ministries of Industry, Transport and Economic Development, and in large companies. such as ENI and ENEL. He presented his credentials as Italian Ambassador to India in December 2019.
In this interview, Ambassador Vincenzo de Luca talks about the importance of culture in India-Italy relations, the main attractions of the upcoming Italian National Day and Republic Day celebrations, priority areas to further strengthen the cultural link between India and Italy, and the role of the Cultural Center in promoting Italian culture in India. He also talks about the various scholarships offered to Indian students to study in Italy, the support given by Italy to Indian filmmakers who wish to shoot in Italy and the importance of food diplomacy in the context of India and the Italy.
Q. How do you see the importance of culture in relations between India and Italy? How were the cultural ties between India and Italy strengthened by last year’s meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi on the sidelines of the G20 summit?
A. Cultural exchanges between Italy and India date back to ancient history and this is also why relations between our two countries are based on common values. Not only do the links between European and Indian cultures date back to 700 BC, but there are also records of linguistic influences in the 16th century. In the last century, Giuseppe Tucci and Luigi Tessitori contributed to the knowledge of Indian culture and artistic tradition in Italy by collecting scientific studies and artistic testimonies still preserved in Italy. Moreover, Italy has the most important tradition of Indology studies in the world outside of India. Over the past 50 years, exchanges in the field of cinema have multiplied with the production of docu-films by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roberto Rossellini and awards at the Venice Film Festival for Satyajit Ray and Mira Nair. These ties are not only rooted in the past, but are very much driven by innovation, creativity and contemporary cultural contamination. In 2021, we celebrated the Festival of Italian Culture in India, in collaboration with the Embassy of India in Rome, through a large number of events and activities in the fields of cinema, music, literature, visual arts, fashion and design. These have paved the way for stronger cooperation in the years to come and we have continued to work closely with our Indian partners to encourage our creative industries to develop more joint projects.
Q. What can we expect this year on Italy’s National Day and Republic Day on June 2?
A. After two years of online programs, this year we will finally celebrate the Italian National Day in person, with a reception organized at the Residence of Italy. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Indo-Italian relations and we have many surprises in store for you: we will unveil a new logo to mark this crucial moment in our bilateral relations. The friends of Italy who will be present will have the opportunity to savor an Italian meal and take part in enchanting shows. I won’t spoil the details, but the evening will be enriched by live opera and jazz music from the Neemrana Foundation, a contemporary dance performance live from Italy by the Oliva Contemporary Dance Project and a group of young dancers from Verona. The dancers will also perform in the coming days at the India Habitat Center. Hope everyone was lucky to find tickets as they sold out in 48 hours.
Q. Given that much of the time has been lost due to the pandemic, what will be your priorities to further strengthen the cultural bond between India and Italy in the future?
A. We are now focusing on fostering bottom-up interpersonal relationships. The idea is to bring Italian-Indian cultural relations to younger generations through education in the most attractive fields of study such as design and fashion. This is why we support the development of new university courses in India promoted by the best Italian institutions. We are also promoting more business opportunities for our creative industries, also through the conclusion of important agreements that facilitate Italy-India film co-productions.
Q. In your speech last year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy, you described it as the cultural center of Delhi. Could you please clarify the role of the Cultural Center in promoting Italian culture in India?
A. Italy is a soft power superpower thanks to the immense wealth of beauty, arts, music, literature, monuments, cinema, lifestyle, fashion and innovative creativity. To promote all this in the world, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates a network of 82 Italian cultural institutes. These represent meeting places for intellectuals, artists, Italians living abroad and all those who want to foster relations with our country. Italian cultural institutes are involved in the development of various activities to promote Italian culture where they are located. To do this, they organize artistic, musical and literary events. Some of them also offer Italian language and culture courses. The Italian Cultural Institute in Delhi is a cultural hub and its Managing Director, Andrea Baldi, has done an excellent job of setting out a high-level and among the most dynamic and rich program of activities. The added value of his work is the ability to engage with major cultural institutions in Delhi.
Q. What are the different scholarships offered to Indian students to study in Italy?
A. There are a number of scholarship opportunities for Indian students wishing to study in Italy. Let me remind you that more than 5000 Indian students are currently enrolled in our higher education system and some of them have benefited from such scholarships.
First, there are scholarship opportunities offered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Every year, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) offers scholarships in favor of foreign citizens not residing in Italy to pursue study, training and/or research programs in the institutes of Italian higher education.
Indian students are also eligible to apply for the Invest Your Talent in Italy program which offers postgraduate courses in the field of engineering, advanced technologies, architecture, design, economics or management and a complete training opportunity, as it offers university studies in prestigious Italian universities. as well as a period of on-the-job training, through an internship in a leading Italian company.
Also, many regional scholarships are open to Indian students who are regularly enrolled in a degree or postgraduate program in Italy. The scholarships are awarded annually, on a competitive basis, to all university students who meet certain income, merit and regular attendance requirements, and include free accommodation, meals and a monthly payment to cover additional expenses (sports activities , books, etc).
Finally, Italian Universities/AFAM offer scholarships and other benefits to international students applying to their degree programs. These scholarship opportunities may be merit-based and/or income-based and change accordingly depending on the reference higher education institution.
We have an office in Mumbai, Uni-Italia, which organizes promotional activities on studying in Italy and offers guidance service and personalized advice to students from all over India interested in pursuing their future higher education in Italy. You can reach them at [email protected]
Q. Indian movie “Radhe Shyam” starring Prabhas was shot entirely in Italy. What kind of support does Italy give to Indian filmmakers if they want to shoot in Italy?
A. We encourage the production of foreign films in Italy as much as possible, especially because we have one of the most beautiful countries in the world in terms of landscapes for film sets. Support is provided by a network of some twenty film commissions which bring together organizations which provide free services such as logistical assistance, access to financial resources, granting of permits, mapping of skilled labor and service providers, including finding the best locations. Italy has the best workforce when it comes to make-up artists, costume designers, technicians. The Ministry of Culture also offers incentives for foreign productions, with tax credit measures intended to optimize and support film production activities also through joint projects involving Italian and foreign production companies that choose to film all or part of their projects on Italian territory. You will find all the details on the website of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Currently, two Indian projects are being shot in Italy: “Four More Shots Please! », an Amazon series shot in the Piedmont region and «Anni Manchi», a film by Nandini Reddy, shot in Tuscany and Liguria.
Q. How do you see the idea of food diplomacy in the context of India and Italy? What dishes would you recommend to someone unfamiliar with Italian cuisine?
A. Certainly, food is part of our culture and food diplomacy is something we are very fond of. In fact, every year we organize Italian Food Week all over the world and in India it has always been a great success. For the occasion, we invite the most renowned chefs in the world to present their culinary masterpieces and organize events for them throughout the city. I cannot choose a particular dish or meal. I can say that Italian cuisine is not limited to pizza and pasta, and Italian cuisine is extremely diverse and rich in flavors and ingredients.