THIS SHIP HAS A NEW CAPTAIN
Kolkata Turns Indigo I Erasmus Alumni MeetSeptember 2023
As the attendees strolled in, most of them directly from their workplaces, the ambiance at the Creative Arts Academy in Kolkata underwent a transformation. It was filled with bright indigo, sparkling eyes, radiant smiles and friendly banter. Both familiar and new faces met at the EU Alumni meet: Kolkata edition, often finding a connection as they reminisced about their time in the EU.
Cypriot author Ms Hari N Spanou, recipient of the special mention of the EU Prize for Literature 2023 was a special guest at the meet. She read out her short story A Day’s Work Before Cricket, touching a familiar chord.
Discover what SK Aktar Ali, an EU alumnus from the Kolkata Chapter had to say about the almost magical evening.
The EU Alumni, Kolkata Chapter, was officially launched with an extraordinary evening revolved around on the ideals of global education and intercultural interaction in Kolkata, the cultural capital of India. Along the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Erasmus alumni from across West Bengal gathered to celebrate their shared experiences, friendships, and the enduring bonds that transcend cultural boundaries. The event, took place at the splendid location of the renowned Creative Arts Academy in South Kolkata, perfectly embodying the Erasmus program’s mission to promote diversity and harmony through education.
The evening commenced with a warm welcome from the organizing committee, comprised of enthusiastic former participants who had embarked on their own Erasmus trips. As graduates from various European countries, diverse academic backgrounds and walks of life gathered under the banner of the prestigious program, the atmosphere buzzed with enthusiasm. The highlight of the event was the presence of Ms Hari N. Spanou, this year's recipient of the prestigious European Union Prize for her remarkable contributions to literature. Her short story about two young Indians in Cyprus titled A Day’s Work Before Cricket captivated and enriched us offering a profound literary experience and left us feeling nostalgic.
The evening evolved into an Indigo Erasmus evening with former Erasmus alumni wearing EU blue T-shirts and sharing their personal Erasmus stories. These stories shed light on life-changing encounters that left a profound impact The air was filled with stories of academic endeavours, intercultural adventures, and enduring friendships cultivated by Erasmus participants, inspiring both seasoned and prospective participants.
The EU Alumni, Kolkata Chapter's mission statement was to unite the widely dispersed Erasmus under one roof to foster future intellectual interchange. Concluding statements served as a collective reaffirm their commitment to global citizenship and the growth of international education, bringing the evening to an emotionally charged conclusion. The boundless chances for positive contributions in an interconnected world and the enduring bonds of friendship formed through the Erasmus experience were celebrated.
EU Erasmus Alumni, Kolkata Chapter, celebrated a beautiful evening that exemplified the core ideals of diversity, integration, and lifelong learning. The spirit of Erasmus lived on, paving the way for a more connected and compassionate world as reflected in attendees’ farewell speeches and shared plans for future gathering and collaborations. It served as an inspiration for all affirming that Erasmus offers a truly enriching path of learning, friendship, and personal development.
Long Night of Literatures with European Authors | From Delhi to Kolkata22 - 25 September 2023
A literary extravaganza, the Long Night of LiteratureS hosted 13 writers from across Europe this year. The annual event, a collaborative effort between EU National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), EU and Member States in India, returned to Delhi and Kolkata, presenting Indian audiences with the unique opportunity to meet and engage with some of the celebrated European authors in an intimate setting. During their time in India, the authors participated in panel discussions at universities, engaged with the Indian literary and publishing world, embarked on a bookstore trail and visited museums.
Winner of the special mention of the EU Prize for Literature 2023, Ms Hari N Spanou, also participated in this edition, mesmerizing the audiences with her novel and short stories. For an insightful glimpse into Hari N Spanou's experiences in India, we invite you to read her reflections.
My story goes like this:
I arrived in Delhi Airport on a Wednesday morning in September. Even after a fair number of years travelling - fifty-five, to be precise – I still exhibit some child -like signs before and during my trip, but this time, upon arrival, I was really a multicoloured bundle of anticipation/nervousness/ excitement and fear. I was almost sure that I would encounter problems with my visa, when entering this huge subcontinent of a country. And of course, I was wrong, and passed through everything quickly, everyone polite and passing with flying colours.
As I stepped out through the sliding doors, at long last, I would set foot in India. I was at once greeted by a smiling man, who was there, holding a sign with my name, ready to help me move through the crowds, and drive me to the Czech embassy.
Stealing glimpses of the morning colours of the sky, the myriads of unknown faces, the sounds, the wonderful written script on large advertisements, but also trying to keep up with the driver, who was walking through what seemed like a labyrinth to reach the particular garage where he had parked, sweat was flowing freely down my face and neck and I felt sticky all over. The humid heat did not come as a surprise, of course. After all, I come from Cyprus: a boiling and sizzling Mediterranean country. While we were driving, my guardian Angel, Hema Singh rang the driver- we talked on his phone, because evidently, practically no EU country phone company cares to include connections with Indian ones for cell phones to function properly; whether you’re thinking of Google maps or other applications involving the web, just forget about it, unless you are in India for a month or so. Too complicated!
So, I arrived at the airport a crooked bundle of a woman. Then I was relieved to be promptly welcomed, strolled briskly and became a sweaty traveller, settled down in the car with the AC on at maximum, but still managing to sweat during the ride to the Embassy, and became enchanted, watching everything outside through the automobile window with eyes wide open, trying to absorb all I could.
Reaching the embassy quarter in New Delhi, I was received at the Czech embassy, the warm hearted and smiling personnel both Czech and Indian explained everything, showed me around, as if I was being welcomed at a house, and I was shown to my room with a view and a veranda, and everything started to feel good. On my way up to my room, I had already met two or three other European writers and escorts, exchanged greetings and it all became wonderful: the start of an adventure.
Walking to the nearest shopping centre and then just 400m away at a local market, what bothered me, incessantly, was the fact that I couldn’t shake off my European shadow, mainly, because of the language barrier. Practically one in two people do speak English, but how can one get a feel of a country when one is obliged to communicate using a third language; tongue bound to Colonialism?
Well, it was not until the next morning that everything fell into place. Six of us, the writers from Europe, accompanied by various eager to help people, both Indian and European, were invited to a meeting and event in the New Delhi University.
Wow and that was a thrill! In a very odd and natural manner, not having prepared anything, it was as if the settings were so inviting and warm that even my new friend Attila, from Hungary, though he started his talk, by saying that he would not talk much, warmed up and shared so many interesting thoughts and experiences from Indonesia. Discussing different, individual and chosen ways in writing Literature to students, young and old, could have been a disaster in many European cities. But here, something was different.
I couldn’t really understand it at first. I experienced something different, could maybe pinpoint some parts which stood out, but I didn’t have the big picture. One week later, after the event at the Czech embassy, even at the party, where, most of the people were talking about books or writers or stories, the Long Night of Literatures experience, the bookshop visits in New Delhi and the Long Night of Literatures in Kolkata, it stood out.
It became clear to me, that in the places I went in India all the people involved with Literature, women and men, young, middle aged and old, the readers, the students, the journalists, the ex-students, people my age and older, the locals and foreigners, but also, the publishers, the booksellers, the editors, the agents, were all participating in some way or another in a book centered feast of Book lovers.
And this was not just refreshing and exotic, but it made me wonder Why.
Why is there such a different ambience around books and reading in India compared to Europe, and what we call the West – that includes the USA, but even countries like Canada or Australia and Israel?
I don’t have a full answer. But I have some thoughts and/or questions to share.
Let me add another two things, I experienced in India.
First, a line about the two Museums I visited. The National Museum in New Delhi and the Indian Museum in Kolkata. I was stunned. Plain and simple. I stood fascinated when I saw the beauty of the collections, the deep archetypes in Art, Religion and Spirituality. But also, it became evident, that these different cultural roots that cohabited, merged or clashed on this land, formed contemporary India.
Second, a social observation. In the two cities I visited, I met people from many different backgrounds. Definitely, not most of them! (Hell, probably, I don’t know all the tiny bubbles of social cultures in my own semi occupied country! Note that the population living in the free part of the Republic of Cyprus is under a million.) I tend to think that you don’t get the feel of a peoples’ character by interacting with the educated, the academics, the investors or the bankers, even the artists at an exhibition… So, I try to talk to kiosk owners, the cleaning ladies and the bar tenders in hotels, the taxi drivers, the youngsters on their bikes, the people on the streets I stop to ask directions. In India, even talking to people who could not communicate in English (or the little French or German, I can still recall) I saw and felt a gentleness.
What I saw was not the common bourgeois politeness, which is nearly universal. This was different. Remember the gesture, that you’ve probably encountered in the cinema: this subtle bow of the body when, at the same time, one’s two palms touch each other in the middle of the chest. That is their greeting, their “Hello”.
Well then, I will attempt to sum the last bit up in two questions:
- Is it possible, that the attitude and connection people have towards Literature and the Arts in general, is affected by other things, besides individuality, education and a civic society? Like the non-rational “spirituality” or religion?
- Is it probable that contemporary Europe and the West are missing something important in their formation of principles in the quest of a better society? How can they/we ignore such big different paradigms now days? Should we rethink things like kindness, gentleness, generosity?
I guess that looking back at July, when I first received an email from EU India inviting me to join the Long Night of Literatures in India, I should have sensed that this (my first) visit to this amazing place in the world, would become a significant milestone in my life. Our talks on the phone and through emails with the wonderful Hema Singh, and meeting her close up for a full week, have been unbelievable. And yes, what I wrote was not edited at all, I just chose not to indulge in the smoking iqos adventures! And you may note, that I have not mentioned Colonialism in writing about India! That’s another a story…
Hari N. Spanou
EU delegate – Cyprus
30th of October 2023. Nicosia, Cyprus
Restoring Cultural Heritage | One building at a time27- 29 September 2023
The Restoration Toolbox, stands as a remarkable open-source platform that empowers citizens and local communities to be able to restore, reuse, and preserve everyday heritage buildings. This pioneering platform guides individuals who are keen to preserve cultural buildings through the entire journey, from initial conceptualization to the actual implementation while fostering collaboration and co-creation.
As a worldwide phenomenon, we see old buildings being replaced with nondescript buildings, that not only change the urban landscape but also severely impact pollution levels, harm local communities as well the planet. Research has proven that restoration and adaptive reuse of existing buildings can substantially contribute to circular economy and creating smart cities. However, sometimes lack of access to information, experience and technical skills makes the decision to retain and retrofit an old building unviable.
The Restoration toolbox has been developed as an open-source participatory platform for restoration and preservation of cultural heritage, inspired by the concept of the circular economy and EU Green Deal. One of the 8 international cultural relations projects selected by the EU National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) as part of the EU funded European Spaces of Culture 2023, it aimed to empower citizens and communities to restore buildings, improve accessibility to expert advice and provide a space for collaboration for citizens and policy makers.
Strengthening the European Union (EU)-India cooperation on cultural heritage and sustainability, the project partners including the Delegation of the European Union to India, Alliance Française de Delhi, Institut Français en Inde, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in India, Austrian Embassy New Delhi, Embassy of Spain in India, Danish Cultural Institute, Aishwarya Tipnis Architects (Jugaadopolis), the Just Environment (Toxics Link), OP Jindal Global University, FUNDACIÓN PLATONIQ and Eutropian GmbH have been instrumental in widening its reach.
This partnership has resulted in a series of activities, ranging from workshops that utilize gamification, panel discussions, and internship programs to a compelling film that introduces the Restoration Toolbox to a wider audience. The film highlights the project's importance in the Indian context and emphasizes its role in addressing critical gaps in heritage conservation.
Additionally, an exhibition has been curated to encapsulate the entirety of the project. This exhibition offers an overview of the Restoration Toolbox, European Spaces of Culture 2023, the project's partners, and the key highlights of the project activities. The exhibition has successfully engaged a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, including students, architects, government officials, and policymakers.
In essence, the Restoration Toolbox is a testament to the profound impact of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity in preserving our rich cultural heritage. With its mission is to make heritage conservation accessible to all and to ensure the sustainable preservation of our cities' everyday heritage, safeguarding the legacy of our past for generations to come.
Connecting with Youth | EU Days18 August 2023 I 14September 2023
The EU Days have evolved as a unique platform that provides to the representatives of the Delegation with the opportunity to connect with young India and understand its heartbeat. The appeal has steadily grown and those who participate inevitably find themselves seeking for more. Continuing the high energy and action-packed adventure we have organised two EU Days in the past few months. Let's take a closer look...…
University of Calicut
Cantered around the theme of EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, the University of Calicut had the honour to host Mr Edwin Koekkoek, First Counsellor for Energy and Climate Action at the Delegation of the European Union to India. Mr. Koekkoek's visit coincided with an ongoing project on August 18th.
Reiterating its commitment to shaping a sustainable future, the university, along with its students and faculty actively engaged with Edwin in an invigorating conversation encompassing clean energy, climate action, and energy transition including EU-India collaboration in clean energy transition to the intricacies of climate partnerships. Additionally, students seized this opportunity to gain insights about educational pathways into Europe including the Erasmus+ program.
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai
As part of the EU Day initiative, Dr. Nina Fenton delivered a talk about International Financial Institutions and the Climate Finance Gap at Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai on 14 September. Talking to the students and faculty, Dr Fenton touched upon a range of press global issues around the themes of finance, climate change, and international cooperation including the role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in India, the landscape of global financial institutions, and the imperative issue of climate change. She delved into the collaborative efforts between the European Union and India in tackling climate change and fostering sustainable partnerships.
Going into the specifics of EIB's operations in India, her presentation provided insights to the students and faculty about their involvement in pivotal projects, including the financing of metro initiatives that are transforming the country's infrastructure, Her discussion highlighted Europe's pivotal role in bridging the climate financial gap, a matter of paramount global concern. Dr. Nina's also introduced Horizon Europe and the Erasmus Programme, both of which not only bridge educational gaps but also promote international collaboration, offering a brighter, more interconnected future for students aspiring to gain global exposure.
Her captivated, curious audience, feverishly jotting down notes created a remarkable sight, leaving a lasting impression as the event unfolded…
High Level Visits in and around G20AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2023
The period leading up to the G20 and the G20 Summit was a time of intense activity at the Delegation Office in New Delhi. In this section, we provide you more information about the key individuals who visited and highlight the significant aspects of their visits
G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration (9 September 2023)G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration
G20 summit, 9-10 September 2023
G20 summit, 21-22 November 2020
Remarks by Mr Charles Michel, President of the European Council around G20 Summit (9 September 2023) read more
President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen marks the EU's commitment to the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) during the event hosted at the G20 in New Delhi (9 September 2023) read more
European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis (21 August 2023) read more
EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius travel to India to participate in the G20 Ministerial Meeting (25 July 2023)
Call for Individual Papers10 October-20 November 2023
As part of the EU-India Think Tank Twinning Initiative, we are pleased to announce the opening of a call for Individual Papers on Challenges and Opportunities in the EU India Relation is open until 20 November. For detailed information and submission guidelines, please visit
EU Higher Education Virtual Fair 202323 November I 24 November 2023
Full Circle & Cafe
As I headed in to meet my professors as an Erasumus scholar at EVITEK - The Espoo Vantaa Institute of Technology, I was gifted a little book titled - Sauna, Sisu and Sibelius. The three words that in many ways define Finnish culture. It was a very warm welcome in a country known for its chilly climate. Looking back, I can confidently say that this three-month programme was for certain one of the significant periods of my life, thus far. I arrived in the small town of Espoo with the purpose of conducting research for my thesis on the paper industry, as part of my BA in Publishing at the London College of Printing. At first, I felt at sea, as language was a barrier, and only the professors spoke English. I found myself alone in a completely new geographic and cultural context, coming from the hustle-bustle of London and New Delhi. However, as time passed, I learnt to appreciate and truly savour the Finnish way of life. This was also a time of contemplation, a lot of reading and self-reflection. I visited state-of-art paper mills, met with experts in the field, and people who were very helpful. As part of the cultural experience, I attended plays, and music concerts, and also listen to Sibelius, one of the country's great composers. Perhaps one of my most memorable experience was an invitation to a professor's summer cottage, where a few of the teachers and I had the chance to connect over food and the sauna. Their only request was that I cook them a traditional Indian meal. Which I did with great trepidation. I remember being on the phone with my mother, learning how to bake the Indian bread, popularly known as 'naan'. An unforgettable experience in a charming cottage by the lake.
Among the many things I cherished during my time in this quiet country, is its very special relationship with 'nature'. Many evenings, post research, were spent on long walks in the surrounding forests in the company of tall Pine trees, and cool crisp air. Upon my return to London to London after this adventure, I felt enriched and developed a deep respect for the Finnish way of life, particularly the concept of 'sisu' determination, courage and strength.
Manasseh Anand Makhesh
Masters in Computational Mechanics
Being offered a full Erasmus Mundus scholarship for interdisciplinary, world-class education was a surreal experience, a moment of both disbelief and euphoria. The opportunity to learn from professors who are pioneers in the field, whose books I had studied as an undergraduate, was a thrilling beginning to my journey at Swansea University, UK.
I moved to Barcelona, Spain, for my second semester to further my knowledge in Computational Mechanics. The freedom to undertake a thesis and internship anywhere in Europe was truly exhilarating. For my thesis, I chose a research lab in Milan, Italy. This opportunity allowed me to contribute to cutting-edge research and collaborate with renowned researchers. Working in new and diverse environments instilled resilience, adaptability, and taught me the importance of embracing change.
Collaborating with brilliant minds from different nationalities expanded my horizons and nurtured a deep appreciation for diverse perspectives. I discovered the power of teamwork, innovation, and global collaboration in solving complex challenges. Travelling around Europe during Christmas holidays and celebrating New Year in different cities with friends became a delightful tradition.
One of the highlights of my Erasmus Mundus journey was my internship in Seville, Spain. Engaging in real-world renewable energy projects ignited a sense of purpose and reinforced my passion for sustainable technologies. The experience enhanced my technical skills and urged me to contribute to a greener future.
Upon graduation, I faced a tough decision between pursuing a PhD and accepting industry job offers. Although academia had its appeal, I found myself intrigued by the dynamic startup world. My first job offer came from an automation startup in Spain via LinkedIn.
The startup environment was invigorating. During this time I reconnected with my former flatmate in Milan. His proposal to incubate a startup focused on waste management resonated deeply with my drive to make a social impact. I took the leap, and we began our journey to create a meaningful impact in waste management.
In addition to my professional pursuits, I found joy in volunteering in the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association (EMA), giving back to the community that enriched me. Meeting like-minded individuals from different nationalities and programmes, mentoring new scholars, and organising events allowed me to make further contributions.
Today, I am working on a new idea related to hydrogen. It is challenging, but I am excited to see where it takes me. I realise the profound impact my Erasmus Mundus journey has had on my professional growth. The multicultural experiences, interdisciplinary learning, and exposure to cutting-edge research have equipped me with a unique perspective and adaptability needed in today's globalised world.
Reflecting as an alumnus, I am filled with gratitude for a decade of memories and opportunities. The Erasmus Mundus journey transcended academics, fostering lifelong friendships, impactful connections, and a deeper respect for global diversity. This journey embodied the spirit of the European Union - unity in diversity. It also inspired my sister to pursue her Erasmus Mundus masters. This program became a cherished part of our family fabric.
I am eager to contribute to a connected, inclusive, and sustainable world. So here I am, still exploring, still learning, still driven by a boundless curiosity, ready to seize the opportunities that lie ahead."
Ms Ursula Von Der Leyen
EU Commission President
In a first India EU carry out joint naval drills in Gulf of GuineaIn a first, India, EU carry out joint naval drills in Gulf of Guinea
European Council President Charles Michel arrives in Delhi ahead of G20 Summit read more
EU Trade Commissioner urges India and EU to Drive Multilateral Trade Agenda at G20 Summit
G20 opportunity to drive trade amid global turbulence: EU vice-president
In a first India EU carry out joint naval drills in Gulf of Guinea read more