For most Indians the mention of Argentina is likely to instantly conjure up visions of soccer, tango and the vast pampas grasslands—the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Maradona and Messi are household names in India, even for those without any pronounced interest in soccer. Both, incidentally, have played exhibition matches in Kolkata.
In 1924, poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore was hosted by Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, publisher of the literary magazine Sur and described by some as the quintessential Argentine woman. Back then it took Tagore several weeks to reach faraway Buenos Aires. He gave Ocampo her Indian name Vijaya, later dedicating Purabi, a book of poems, to her. It was one of the earliest, modern-day documented contacts established between India and Argentina.
It takes two to tango is an everyday expression that we’ve been hearing for ages—the tango, of course, refers to the popular social dance that originated among working class Argentines in the late 19th century. For those who’ve grown up fascinating about distant Argentina, two melodies especially reverberate in the heart—Don’t cry for me Argentina (sung, originally, by Julie Covington) and My heart is in Rosa Rio (sung by Jim Reeves). And the world remembers the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo during the days of the military junta.
Argentina among the world’s wealthiest nations for several decades during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is today going through an economic churning of sorts, but promises to pull itself back from the shores of uncertainty. India has made it known at every international forum that its friendship with Argentina can only go from strength to strength—both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Mauricio Macri have met several times, more recently during President Macri’s visit to New Delhi in February 2019 to reiterate commitments made on several fronts. In March 2019, Argentine Vice President Gabriela Michetti’s visit to India was covered by our magazine.