Indo-Dutch relations come full circle

Indo-Dutch relations come full circle

Building ties

Indo-Dutch relations come full circle

As Willem-Alexander van Oranje succeeds his mother Queen Beatrix as the new King of the Netherlands on Tuesday, the Indo-Dutch relationship, dating back to over 400 years, has come full circle.

From being traders of textiles, the Dutch might have been forced to retreat from the sub-continent with the advent of the British, but Alphonsus Stoelinga, the Dutch Ambassador to India says, “All that has changed and the Netherlands today is the fifth largest investor in India, one of the largest from Europe.”

While stating that Indo-Dutch relations encompass close co-operation in various areas, including academics, economy and politics, Stoelinga, in an interaction with Deccan Herald, also discussed India’s growth story from the eyes of the Dutch. After their retreat from pre-colonial India, the Dutch, he pointed out returned with their Development Corporation, funding infrastructure and agriculture in states like Karnataka,Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

“In 2002, India became very rich and we stopped that activity. And, today, we are back to trading with India (like 400 years ago). We have come full circle,” Stoelinga said. Similarly, speaking about the Dutch companies in India, he said: “Initially they came here to set up production units, companies like Philips, Shell, Unilever et al, then, the companies began outsourcing and today, some of companies have large research and development establishments here.”

The share of Indian companies in the Netherlands is also growing considerably with many firms like Infosys, Wipro and the Tatas, having their offices there. The focus of the Dutch has also changed. While it was the Coromandel coast, West Bengal and other ports that drew attention in the early days, their focus post-1947 has been spreading across the country.

And, Karnataka, with whom the Dutch have several agreements, especially in the fields of horticulture and agriculture, Stoelinga says, is dear to the Netherlands.

Parallel to the dialogue with New Delhi, he says the Dutch have a continuous dialogue with Karnataka. And, Bangalore, he says, occupies a special place. “It is not coincidental that we opened a Consulate here. It is only logical. Bangalore, just like some other cities in the southern part of India has a large reserve of engineers, which we lack in the Netherlands. Actually, in most part of Western Europe. Add to this the number of Dutch firms here and firms from here in the Netherlands, we thought it was time to have a centre in Bangalore,” he said.

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