Sujatha Singh
Consul General of India to Italy
Sujatha Singh

It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be here today at this workshop on "Europe and India: Past, Present and Future" being held at the conclusion of the activities of what I gather has been a very productive and substantive project.

This project, carried out in collaboration by Italy, Austria and India, is an excellent example of Indo-European co-operation to develop collaborative interaction, research and common activities. It is also indicative of the mutual commitment between India and the European Union to a deeper and enhanced partnership, to building up a coalition of interests based on shared values.

Traditional links between India and the various member states of the European Union, including Italy and Austria, have played an important role in the development of relations between the EU and India. Among the common values that India and the European Union share are democracy, a free press, human rights, and a profound respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. The European Union is an admirable example of an area where historical conflicts between nation states have been resolved and partnership has progressed well beyond economic co-operation to cover many other fields as well.

India, too, is a nation of many states, which has successfully retained its democratic character for over half a century and constantly affirms its democratic processes by going back regularly to its people at all levels - Parliament, State Assemblies and local bodies. India, as the largest democracy in the world with a series of ambitious economic reforms that have made it the fourth-largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power, has a great deal to offer.

The European Union is India's most important trading partner and absorbs nearly a quarter of India's total exports. India ranks seventeenth among the European Union's trading partners. Here, there is clearly much scope for improvement.

Our respective governments and governmental institutions have worked to identify areas for development and co-operation. It is important that Indian and European institutions, NGOs and civil societies come together with ideas in areas such as those which this programme has successfully brought to fruition. In this endeavour, institutions such as the Società Indologica "Luigi Pio Tessitori", CISM, ÖPFZ Arsenal and the B.M. Birla Science Centre have an important role to play in working together to achieve concrete progress in various fields of mutual interest.

I would like to offer my felicitations to all the organisations involved, European as well as Indian, for making this project a success and express my hope that it is a forerunner of more such co-operation to come.