ABOUT HOLLANDMEETSINDIA

In one sentence, this website discovers, explores, describes and disseminates information on the long-standing relationship between Holland and India in all its aspects. Business, technology, culture, heritage, academics, science, art, tourism...all form the stimulating substance of hollandmeetsindia.
We have tried to present hollandmeetsindia in a lucid, colourful and engaging manner, through words, images, podcasts and videos. The aim is to encourage interest and share experiential information amongst people of both countries about each other’s country and their areas of common interest.

Why India and Holland?
Because together they have a story. And the story goes...

Holland first met India in 1568. That year an adventurer named Dirk Gerritsz Pomp, nicknamed Dirk China, had reached Goa—a town now famous for its beaches and resorts—on India's west coast. No Dutch person is known to have set foot in India prior to him. In 2015, another significant meeting took place when Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited India and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the two countries' relationship forward. By then the two countries had known each other for almost 450 years.

Over this period the engagement has been deep and far reaching. It began with the the Dutch East India Company, called VOC in short, whose intrepid sailors and merchants reached India at the turn of the 17th century. The VOC was the world’s first multinational and its 'business development executives’ came to Asia in search of the lucrative trade in spices, a legendary trail of maritime commerce which relayed all the way from Indonesia to Europe, via India, Arabia and the African continent. In India, the VOC found pepper and textiles, and prospered through both. By the time its business had run its course, over a period that spanned 200 years, a lasting Dutch legacy had been created on the subcontinent. Today it is apparent in numerous fortresses, graveyards, mansions and temples that dot the extensive Indian coastline, as well as sites in the hinterland. Much more of that historic Dutch-Indian narrative nestles in kilometres of written records and illustrations left by the VOC and other Dutch who travelled in India.

A hundred-and-fifty years passed. In 1947 India emerged as an independent nation after the exit of the British, and both countries recognised the beginning of a new phase of an old relationship. India looked towards the Netherlands for aid and cooperation during its nation building era, while large corporates from the latter like Philips and Shell—now household names in India—conducted business in the stable democracy.

In 1975, the independence of another nation on the other side of the globe added another facet to the Indo-Dutch relationship. This was Suriname , till then a South American Dutch territory. Ethnic Indians, who came to Suriname as contract labour in the 19th century, form the largest part of the country’s population. Upon Suriname’s independence many of them migrated to Holland. Today, they number well above 150,000.

In the 1990s the Indian economy liberalised and the relationship shifted up a gear. Both countries gained. Dutch expertise in various spheres like agriculture and water was welcomed in India, and the Dutch found new opportunities to benefit from therein.

The millennium turned and relations evolved further. The world was globalising fast and investment became a two-way traffic. Ambitious Indian companies were looking outward for conducive environments where they could set up bases and enhance their growth, whether it be through marketing or research and development. The Netherlands was a natural choice. The country was (is) the international gateway into Europe, business friendly, culturally open, and of course, a fountainhead of advanced technologies. (Not many outside the Netherlands would be aware that Dutch companies or individuals have been behind some of the technologies and products that have revolutionised the modern world—for example, CDs, DVDs, WiFi and Bluetooth.) By 2016 more than 170 Indian companies, including all the IT majors, had establishments in the Netherlands.

On the other hand Dutch companies continued to enter India, introducing technologies, establishing outsourcing centres and marketing offices. Currently over 220 business entities from Holland have a presence in India.

The bonds continue to be built. In business, while trade and investment continues, companies of both countries are coming together to form value chains in order to achieve global competitiveness. The last two decades have seen a huge rise in Indian students going abroad in pursuit of quality education. Whereas the USA and other English speaking countries have traditionally been the favoured destinations, increasing awareness of the availability of highquality education in Dutch universities in English at a much cheaper cost has resulted in the Netherlands becoming a serious option. People of Indian origin (including Indo-Surinamese) in the Netherlands number about 2,20,000, which is second only to the UK in Europe. This Indo-Dutch community, while retaining its cultural traditions, is comfortably integrated into the Dutch way of life, and is well respected for its economic and social contributions to the country. Numerous Indo-Dutch organisations are active in fostering ties between the two countries.

The first Indo-Dutch treaty was signed in 1604 between Admiral Steven van der Hagen of the VOC and the Zamorin (ruler) of Kozhikode, on India’s Malabar coast. Amongst other matters, it declared “eternal friendship, as long as the sun moon are in the sky.” Four hundred years later the two celestial bodies referred to in the treaty show no signs of disappearing from the sky.