Dutch king, queen visit Safdarjung Tomb in Delhi

Dutch King Willem-Alexander (L) and Queen Maxima (R) pose for photos as they visit the Mughal-era Safdarjung's Tomb in New Delhi on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on Tuesday visited the iconic Safdarjung Tomb in Delhi and met several Indians who have pursued higher education in that country.

Nearly 50 alumni members of various Dutch universities, a mix of young and old were ecstatic to see and meet the royal couple in the backdrop of the 18th-century architectural wonder.

Eight tables were neatly put up symmetrically in the premises of the heritage landmark facing the ornate tomb as the fountains gurgled in a sunny afternoon.

The Dutch king and queen arrived at the monumental site around 4 pm, wrapping up the Delhi leg of their five-day state visit.

After posing for a group picture with the alumni members, the king and queen interacted with them who shared their experiences of studying in the Netherlands.

The eight tables represented eight diverse groups, including water management; science and engineering; health; agriculture and environment; business and economics; and architecture and urban planning.

The king and queen met with four groups each and interacted with a mix of alumni which included businessmen, entrepreneurs, and architects.

The royal couple later took a walk around the iconic tomb and then posed for pictures before departing.

The next leg of their journey would be Mumbai where they are slated to attend a number of events.

Aakarsh Shmanur, a Bengaluru-based architect who returned to India after finishing his masters in architecture from Rotterdam University and working for a year in the Netherlands, said, "I was excited to meet the Dutch king and queen and get pictures clicked with them".

"During our interaction with the Queen, she underlined that urban planning has to be inclusive, sustainable and with a sense of aesthetics," he told PTI.

City-based A K Jain, a graduate of School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, who did a course in housing planning in building in the Netherlands, said, India can learn a lot from that country.

"Especially, in areas of water technology and adaptive reuse of old buildings. All the problem of flooding many cities faced, including in Patna, these can be addressed with urban planning and water management. Hope, the two countries will cooperate more to mutually benefit each other," he said.

According to the Dutch Embassy here, the Netherlands has the second largest population of people of Indian-origin in Europe (next only to the UK). It is home to about 220,000 Indian and Surinami-Hindustani Diaspora, wholly integrated into the Dutch society.

"The number of Indian students going to the Netherlands for higher education has increased from 2,021 in 2017 to 2,600 in 2018," it said.

According to Karanpreet Kaur, Senior Policy Officer, Education at the Embassy, the number of Indian students choosing the Netherlands for higher studies is growing every year.

"It has grown by 103 per cent from year 2012-13 to year 2017-18, she said.

India's Ambassador to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony also attended the event and interacted with the alumni members.

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