Carlos Saura and Zoya Akhtar received the award at a ceremony presided over by Her Majesty Queen Letizia
The National Archaeological Museum in Madrid hosted the III Spain India Council Foundation Award Ceremony on 12 July. This time, the award was presented to film-makers Zoya Akhtar and Carlos Saura.
The event, gathering a number of civil and political personalities from India and Spain, was also attended by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo; the Ambassador of India to Spain; Vikram Misri; the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ignacio Ybañez, and the Director General for North America and Asia-Pacific Affairs, Fidel Sendagorta.
The Chairman of the Spain India Council Foundation, Antonio Escámez, spoke at the ceremony on behalf of SICF's patrons. He emphasised what an honour it is for the Foundation the Queen's presence and the Crown's commitment to strengthening relations between Spain and India, especially given that 2016 is "a special year, in which we commemorate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries."
After giving a brief biographical note of the recipients, Antonio Escámez emphasised the role of cinema as "one of the most powerful channels of communication and access to other realities and cultures." He also stressed how, in the case of Carlos Saura and Zoya Akhtar, this fact has been particularly relevant in their careers, what, linked to their outstanding artistic careers, has afforded them this Award.
The acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation also participated in the event, and he emphasised “the remarkable work done by the Spain India Council Foundation” towards public diplomacy between the two countries, stating that “political initiatives to bring them closer would be useless without active cooperation from civil society.”
Although this year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Spain and India, the two countries have had uninterrupted contact for centuries. José Manuel García-Margallo mentioned the similarities between them as both have a long history and deeply rooted traditions, but he also noted how extraordinarily modern they are.
“India is changing at an extraordinarily fast pace,” the Minister said, “and we intend to keep increasing Spain's footprint in India in order to leverage the potential of industries such as defence, technological and scientific cooperation, infrastructure and cultural relations.” “The number of Spanish companies operating in India has grown eight-fold over the past few years, which proves our interest,” he explained. Finally, he also pointed at the possibility of Spain becoming a “preferred ambassador of India before the European Union.”