India Italy Bilateral Relation
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TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The visit of the Italian Prime Minister to India coming after gap of 10 years is the major power boost in the bilateral relations between India and Italy. The visit saw 6 pacts being signed between the 2 countries in following fields:
- Railroad safety
- Bilateral investment
- Joint training programs for foreign services
- Cultural exchange
- Diplomatic ties.
In 2016, the India Italian Joint Committee, established under the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement, approved several initiatives and projects to encourage cooperation in the sectors of science, technology and innovation with emphasis on sustainable agriculture, health care, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies.
This meeting was kind of a reboot to India-Italian relationship which for the last few years did go on the backfoot. The ties had become fractured and full of tension because of 2 main reasons
- Marines’ case in 2012 where two Indian fishermen were killed by a pair of Italian marines off the coast of Kerala.
- Augusto Westland VVIP Helicopter case were in India black listed the mother company Finmeccanica, which is one of the biggest arms producers of Italy.
So both these issues strained the ties between India and Italy. The spill-over effect of the same was negative impact on India’s relationship with the European Union. With the recent visit of Italian PM, it seems to be a wise decision to put the things of past on backburner.
Support in anti-terrorism
Italy has supported India in the anti-terrorism front. India has for a very long time globally asked the world to be more proactive and be strict against terrorist organisations especially organisation like the JeM which are based in Pakistan and are responsible for cross terrorism.
Support by Italy in this matter strengthens India’s hands in its global fight against terrorism especially when it comes to Pakistan. Today, terrorism has become a global issue and is not restricted to India only. Acknowledgment of terrorist organisation such as Al Qaida and ISIS calls upon countries to not give safe haven to the terrorist entities.
India is facing terrorist attacks whereas Italy faces influx of refugees from Syria, Yemen, Libya along with other countries in Europe. Thus, there is a rising security concern for Italy also and it is significant when such area is openly discussed.
Italy feels that this concern of cross border terrorism was raised by India for a long time and now it is being realised as a reality. Horrific terrorist incidences happening in Europe makes one feel that may be Europe is now a little more sensitive to a country like India in matters of anti-terrorism.
Also, Italy supports Masood Azhar being declared as global terrorist. India has to come up with a solution where countries like Italy, which are influential in the European Union and have influence globally, are supporting India. It means there is sense to the reasons for which it is making the decisions about anti-terrorism. But the challenge always lies when an international forum like the UN is concerned. Here the power window is very narrow for negotiations and talks on such matters.
Italy has supported India’s “intensified engagement” with nuclear, missile and dual-use technology and substances-export control regimes like the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group, and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) which strengthen global non-proliferation efforts.
The Indian-EU free trade agreement has seen bumpy rides in this FTA. There have been many rounds of negotiations but nothing significant has come out. With Italian support now, this FTA is expected to be little easier to have breakthrough as it is good to have support from one of the major EU countries.
The trade between India and Italy is not quite encouraging. The annual turnover is about 8.8 billion US dollars in favour of India of about 1 billion US dollars. Though it is in India’s favour but there is a great potential for increasing the trade between India and Italy.
As far as relationship between India and EU is concerned, that’s one relationship but it also becomes imperative for India to an individual relationship with Italy. India’s relationship with Britain is quite apart from others when it is now going to exit the European Union. It is in India’s interest to maintain its bilateral relations with each of these European Union countries. India has been doing that since it is seems to have a collective kind of one exchange with EU but it’s never seemed to have the bilateral relationship with the member countries. The bilateral relation helps in the multinational exchange, whether its trade or securities forum. So it’s always helpful to have a strong bilateral relationship with the components of the European Union.
Today, India is becoming much more aggressive in its pursuit of foreign policy. PM has reached out to countries which traditionally in the last decade or so did not have such close relationships with. This very proactive foreign policy has resulted in PM of Italy visiting India after 10 years. This is actually the beginning of the new chapter for the India-Italian relationship. Both the cases are in court and whatever decisions come, both countries are ready to accept. It will be better to put that behind and now look forward to a much positive and a healthier relationship between these two important countries.
India has changed its style of functioning. It isn’t aggressive but the national interest has now started to matter a great deal and it is no longer shy of putting it across the forums in a direct manner. India is growing economy and the global arena has also given the confidence with which they go ahead. India’s reputation in the world today is very strong as it doesn’t have to beg in front anyone for anything. At present, it should focus on economic growth as its strong base and allow rest to fall in place.
Connecting the dots:
- India is reaching out to countries which were for a long time not in consonance with India. Explain the change in India’s foreign policy approach in this regards.