Chandigarh, Punjab: Italy does not mind more immigrants from India, provided they come legally, says Italy’s ambassador to India, a man who estimates that the number of illegal Indian settlers in Italy is over the half the number of legal immigrants.
“Apart from the movement of goods and investments, we consider movement of people of utmost importance for the overall growth of Italy. Immigrants from India have proved a boon for Italy as they are doing extremely well there,” Ambassador Roberto Toscano told IANS in an interview here.
“There are around 77,000 Indians who are legally residing in Italy and a large majority of them are from Punjab. But at the same time there is a huge population of illegal immigrants from India, that is around 40,000,” he said.
Toscano said Italians no longer “feel astonished when we see a Punjabi Sikh, with a turban on his head, moving on a bicycle on Italy’s roads. They have very well become a part of our society and we have also accepted their traditions and customs.
“There are many good, success stories of Indian immigrants, especially from Punjab, and we would like to stress on these.”
The ambassador was in Chandigarh to meet top functionaries in the Punjab government.
State Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal discussed with Toscano the issue of Punjabi youth stranded in Italy after reaching there through illegal means.
“We are also concerned about the tendency of illegal immigration by Punjabi youth,” the ambassador told IANS. “Our government is already looking into this matter and we have assured the Punjab government that all possible help will be provided to such people in Italy.”
Italy, which attracts over 42.3 million tourists annually, wants to tap the tourism market from India.
“We are not geographically close to Punjab but our ambitions are same and we share many similarities with this country. In fact, we have a long history of association with Punjab and centuries-old ancient roman artefacts found here have proved our old links,” the ambassador said.
Italy is the seventh largest economy and sixth largest exporter of manufactured goods in the world.
Source: Alkesh Sharma, IANS