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In Europe, they talk of India and China in the same breath these days. It was the same in Spain last fortnight. I believe we are developing differently at a different pace, with a different appreciation of democracy, a value which many nations consider our USP, particularly in Western Europe. In this framework, Spain has been a late starter in accelerating relations. It is way behind France, Germany and Italy. But in recent years, Madrid has given a fillip to the India connection, something we witnessed during a recent India-Spain Dialogue Forum in the splendid city of Valladolid, two hours drive from Madrid, through exquisite fields and undulating country.
Why did this important meeting take place in Valladolid? Because this is where the Spanish government, encouraged by the royal family, has opened the Indo-Spanish centre or Casa de India. The idea was to spread out across Spain—the various points of contact with India. The Indian embassy performs this function in Madrid. Casa de Asia or the Asian Centre in Barcelona also has a strong Indian chapter. It was a small hamlet in the middle-ages. Fernando of Aragon and Isabel of Castile were secretly married here. This pair played the key role in terminating the 800-year-old Muslim rule in the Iberian peninsula.