In this interview, Italian Ambassador to India Vincenzo de Luca talks about the importance of culture in the relationship between India and Italy.
Vincenzo de Luca, Ambassador of Italy, has been a career diplomat since 1989. Over the years, he has received several appointments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in diplomatic missions in Khartoum, Tunis, Paris (permanent mission to the OECD). ), and in Shanghai, where he served as Consul General for four years. He has many years of experience in the internationalization of the economic system of the public and private sectors, both in the central offices and as a diplomatic adviser to the ministries of industry, transport and economic development, as well as in large corporations 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 the relationship between India and Italy, the main attractions of the upcoming Italian National Day and Republic Day celebrations, the main directions for further strengthening cultural ties between India and Italy, as well as the role of the Cultural Center in promoting the Italian culture in India. He also talks about the various scholarships offered to Indian students to study in Italy, the support provided by Italy to Indian filmmakers who want to shoot in Italy, and the importance of food diplomacy in the context of India and Italy.
Q. How do you see the importance of culture in the relationship between India and Italy? How have cultural ties between India and Italy been strengthened since last year’s meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi on the sidelines of the G20 summit?
BUT. Cultural exchanges between Italy and India date back to ancient history and that is why the relationship between our two countries is based on common values. Links between European and Indian cultures can not only be traced back to 700 BC, but there is also evidence of linguistic influences in the 16th century. In the last century, Giuseppe Tucci and Luigi Tessitori contributed to the study of Indian culture and artistic traditions in Italy, collecting scientific research and artistic evidence that is still preserved in Italy. In addition, Italy boasts the most important tradition of Indology studies in the world outside of India. Over the past 50 years, film exchanges have flourished with the production of documentaries by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roberto Rossellini and the awards at the Venice Film Festival of Satyajit Ray and Mira Nair. These connections are not only rooted in the past, but are also largely driven by innovation, creativity, and contemporary cultural pollution. In 2021, we celebrated the Festival of Italian Culture in India along with the Embassy of India in Rome, with many events and events in the fields of cinema, music, literature, fine arts, fashion and design. This has paved the way for closer collaboration in the coming years and we continue to work closely with our Indian partners to encourage our creative industries to develop more collaborative projects.
Q. What can we expect this year on the occasion of the Italian National Day and Republic Day on June 2nd?
BUT. After two years of online programs, this year we will finally celebrate Italy’s National Day in front of guests with a reception at the Residence of Italy. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Indian-Italian relations and we have a lot of surprises for you: we will introduce a new logo to mark this defining moment in our bilateral relationship. Friends of Italy who will attend will have the opportunity to enjoy Italian food and take part in charming performances. I won’t go into details, but the evening will be enriched with live opera and jazz music from the Neemrana Foundation, a live contemporary dance show from Italy from 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. I hope everyone had a chance to find tickets as they sold out in 48 hours.
Q. Given that a lot of time has been lost due to the pandemic, what will be your priorities to further strengthen cultural ties between India and Italy?
BUT. Right now we are focusing on encouraging relationships between people from the bottom up. The idea is to bring the Italo-Indian cultural links to the younger generation through education in the most attractive areas of study such as design and fashion. That is why we support the development of new university courses in India, promoted by the best Italian institutions. We are also expanding business opportunities for our creative industries, including through important agreements that facilitate co-production of films between Italy and India.
Q. In your speech last year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy, you called it the cultural center of Delhi. Could you elaborate on the role of the Cultural Center in promoting Italian culture in India?
BUT. Italy is a soft power superpower thanks to its vast wealth of beauty, art, music, literature, monuments, cinema, lifestyle, fashion and innovative creativity. To promote all this worldwide, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating a network of 82 Italian cultural institutions. They are meeting points for intellectuals, artists, Italians living abroad and anyone who wants to maintain relations with our country. Italian cultural institutions invest in the development of various activities to promote Italian culture where they are located. To do this, they organize artistic, musical, literary events. Some of them also offer Italian language and culture courses. The Italian Cultural Institute in Delhi is a cultural hub and its CEO Andrea Baldi has done a great job of defining a program of events that meet the highest standards and are among the most dynamic and eventful. An added benefit of his work is the opportunity to interact with Delhi’s key cultural institutions.
Q. What scholarships are offered to Indian students to study in Italy?
BUT. Indian students who wish to study in Italy can apply for a scholarship. Let me remind you that there are over 5,000 Indian students currently enrolled in our higher education system and some of them are benefiting from such scholarships.
First, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation offers scholarships. Each year, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) offers grants in favor of foreign nationals not residing in Italy for study, teaching and/or research programs at Italian higher education institutions.
Indian students are also eligible to apply for the Invest Your Talent in Italy program which offers postgraduate studies in engineering, advanced technology, architecture, design, economics or management as well as a full study opportunity as it provides academic study in prestigious Italian universities. as well as a period of on-the-job training through an internship with a leading Italian company.
In addition, there are many regional scholarships open to Indian students studying regularly in Italy in degree or postgraduate programs. Scholarships are awarded annually on a competitive basis to all university students who meet certain income, academic performance 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 for their study programs. These scholarship opportunities may be based on merit and/or income and may vary depending on the institution in question.
We have an office in Mumbai, Uni-Italia, which organizes promotional events for studies in Italy and offers orientation services and personalized guidance to students across India interested in continuing their future higher education in Italy. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Radhe Shyam, an Indian film starring Prabhas, was filmed entirely in Italy. What kind of support does Italy give to Indian filmmakers if they want to shoot in Italy?
BUT. We encourage the production of foreign films in Italy as much as possible, especially since we have one of the most beautiful countries in the world in terms of scenery for filming. Support is provided by a network of about 20 film commissions, which brings together organizations that provide free services such as logistical assistance, access to financial resources, issuance of permits, mapping of skilled labor and service providers, including finding the best locations. Italy has the best workforce when it comes to makeup artists, costume designers, technicians. The Ministry of Culture also provides incentives for foreign productions through tax incentives aimed at streamlining and supporting film production, including through joint projects involving Italian and foreign production companies that decide to shoot all or part of their projects in Italy. All details can be found on the website of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Two Indian projects are currently filming in Italy: Four more shots please!, an Amazon series filmed in the Piedmont area, and Anni Manci, a film by Nandini Reddy filmed in Tuscany and Liguria.
Q. How do you view the idea of food diplomacy in the context of India and Italy? What dishes would you recommend to those who are not familiar with Italian cuisine?
BUT. Of course, food is part of our culture, and we love food diplomacy very much. In fact every year we organize an Italian Cuisine Week around the world and in India, it has always been a great success. On this occasion, we invite the most famous chefs in the world to present their culinary masterpieces and organize events for them throughout the city. I can’t choose one particular dish or dish. I can say that Italian cuisine is not only pizza and pasta, Italian cuisine is extremely diverse and rich in flavors and ingredients.