May 24, 2018

2017, a special year for India – Netherlands relations

By H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India.

The year 2017 marked 70 years of diplomatic relations between India and the Netherlands. The Netherlands was one of the first countries to recognize independent India in 1947. Since then the Netherlands has been a fellow traveler encouraging us along the path of development.

2017 was a special year for India – Netherlands relations also because Foreign Minister Bert Koenders visited India in May and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Netherlands in June 2017. Investments from the Netherlands into India went up around US$ 2 billion in just six months of last year. Investments since 2015 has been US$ 8 billion.

The Netherlands is the fourth largest investor in India. At the same time, our economic relations are a two-way street. Just as around 200 Dutch companies operate in India, Netherlands is also home to around 200 Indian companies. There is steady increase in the number of Indian business and citizens relocating to this country even as Dutch business and industry show greater interest in India.

Last year, Tata Steel, the largest Indian company in the Netherlands, announced its merger with Germany’s Thyssen Group. The Headquarters of the merged company will remain in the Netherlands. TCS, India’s biggest IT firm completed 25 years of operations in the Netherlands. One of our major producers and exporters of Basmati rice, LT Foods opened an ultra-modern rice milling plant in Rotterdam. Similarly, Synthite, the world’s largest supplier of spice oils and oleoresins opened operations in the Food Valley, Wageningen.

India has shown the world that democracy and rapid economic growth can go hand in hand. According to the World Bank and the IMF, India is the fastest growing large economy in the world, growing at a rate of 7.4 to 7.8% this year and expected to continue to grow at this rate for the rest of this decade. Despite its size, scale and diversity, India has attained an average of 6.6% growth for nearly three decades under a democratic system, with full protection for human rights. India is today the third largest economy in the world in purchasing power parity terms with GDP of US$ 7.2 trillion.

Since 2014, India has seen a strong and stable government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiate a number of radical measures to reform the economy, accelerate growth and empower women and children. The Government has adopted a Goods and Services Tax which has unified our 1.3 billion people into one market for the first time. Improving the ease of doing business is one of the top priorities of the Government.

2018 promises to be an equally good year for India – Netherlands relations. Prime Minister Modi met Queen Maxima on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23, 2018.

Ambassador Rajamony and the Minister of the Interior and the Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands Ms Kajsa Ollongren.

On January 26 2018, the Embassy of India successfully hosted India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam amidst a wonderful exhibition “We have a dream – Gandhi, King and Mandela.” It was the first time India’s Republic Day reception was being held in Amsterdam. The historic venue of De Nieuwe Kerk, on the Dam Square where Dutch Royal investiture ceremonies and the Royal weddings are held was specially chosen for the purpose. Guests had the opportunity to view first hand a bicycle and Charkha (spinning wheel) used by Mahatma Gandhi, handwritten corrections of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island Bible which were on display as part of the exhibition. We were also honoured to have as guests of honour at the reception Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and the Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands Ms Kajsa Ollongren, Mayor Jan van Zanen of Utrecht and former Ministers Bert Koenders and Edith Schippers.

India’s Republic Day marks that day in 1950 when the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves the Constitution of India. And, the Indian Constitution fully enshrines the ideals that Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela stood for, struggled for and for whose achievement they dedicated their lives. Through strenuous efforts over the last seven decades, India has firmly established within our country, the Rule of Law, a Parliament that reflects the enormous diversity and variety of opinion in our country, a fiercely independent judiciary, a free press and a vibrant civil society.

As India grows and integrates more and more with the world, we see the people of Netherlands as our close friends and partners.

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Join International Yoga Day celebrations at Museumplein, Amsterdam on June 17, 2018

The International Yoga Day will be celebrated on the Museumplein of Amsterdam from 12 noon on June 17 with a mass yoga demonstration and a wellness fair involving food, music and dance. I invite the Diplomat magazine and all its readers, especially my friends and colleagues from the diplomatic community to join with their families and make the event a big success.

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