NEW DELHI: In 2022, when India celebrated 75 years of its independence, there was another country which revelled equally with us – the Netherlands. The year also happended to mark 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and the Scandinavian nation.
Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1947, the two countries have developed robust political, economic, and commercial relations, and have collaborated in various sectors.
The Netherlands ranks as the fourth-largest foreign direct investor in India, with a cumulative flow of USD 42.3 billion between April 2000 and June 2022, according to official Indian statistics. The top five sectors that attracted FDI from The Netherlands were the services sector, computer software and hardware, trading, automobile industry, and fermentation industries.
In 2021-2022, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $17 billion. India’s exports to The Netherlands primarily consist of mineral fuels and mineral-based products, organic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, aluminium, iron and steel, and pharmaceutical products.
India and The Netherlands hold annual consultations led by their respective foreign affairs ministries to discuss issues related to their bilateral relations, covering various sectors.
In 2020, The Netherlands issued guidelines on the Indo-Pacific, which identified India as a key partner. India welcomed the guidelines, and both sides recognise the close convergence between their visions for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
Dense with diaspora
The Netherlands hosts the secondlargest Indian diaspora in Europe (after the UK) and the largest on mainland Europe, totaling around 260,000 people, including 60,000 Indians and a 200,000-strong Surinami-Hindustani community of Indian origin. The Netherlands is a popular destination for Indian students, especially in the field of science and technology. The number of Indian students in the Netherlands has been increasing over the years, with over 3,500 currently studying there.
To enhance the participation of diaspora youth and help them familiarise themselves with their Indian roots, India initiated the Know India Programme and Scholarship Programme for diaspora children and for the children of Persons of Indian Origin to join Indian universities for higher education.
Koningsdag (Kings Day)
Every year since 2013, Netherlands celebrates Koningsdag (King’s Day) on April 27. It is one of the most anticipated national holidays in the Netherlands, where everything turns orange, from flags, wigs, and clothing to revelers’ faces. This color honors the royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau. The celebrations begin on Koningsnacht (King’s Night), and the festivities go on for 24 hours, with alcohol and music flowing freely.
Previously, the national holiday was known as Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), honoring successive female monarchs since the late 1880s. However, following the coronation of Willem-Alexander in 2013, the first Dutch king since 1890, 2014 was the first year to celebrate the holiday as Koningsdag