Seventeen Indians, including filmmakers Gautam Ghose and Ramesh Sharma, fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, and entrepreneur VN Dalmia were among those conferred Italian knighthoods Friday for significantly contributing to the development of friendly relations with Italy in language, culture and socio-economic activities.
Visiting Italian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Gianni Vernetti conferred the awards.
"I am honoured to be presenting these awards, which recognise the contribution of individuals from this great country for promoting India-Italy ties," Vernetti said in a brief address at the function.
Among the others honoured were pianist Mehroo Jeejeebhoy, litterateurs K. Satchidanandan and BG Sidharth and industrialists Rakesh Bakshi and Karan Paul.
Also honoured were 90-year-old Luigi Jellici, a priest of the Don Bosco order who has completed 50 years of his ministry in India, and Stefano Pelle, the New Delhi-based head of an Italian confectionary firm.
(The Italian Embassy here had earlier circulated a list of 10 Indians and an Italian who would be conferred the awards.)
The Order was instituted in 1947. It is in three ranks: Grande Ufficiale (Grand Officer), Commendatore (Commander), and Cavalliere (Knight).
It consists of a five-pointed star held by a red ribbon with narrow green and white stripes on the edges, representing the colours of the Italian flag.
Vernetti's visit is the first by a member of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government that came to power after the April general elections.