Useful Information


India in The Netherlands
Centuries ago, travellers - adventurers, merchants, men of arts and literature - came to India with different targets in mind. Some came seeking fortune, patronage, wisdom, knowledge, inspiration and/or salvation, while others came in search of spices, ivory, sandalwood and timber. India, the timeless mystery, with its eternal natural beauty has always fascinated the foreigners - the Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, French and finally the British. They sailed the high seas and ran high risks to reach their final destination:

In the year 1498, the Portuguese, Vasco de Gama, landed at the south western coast of India. Subsequently, his compatriots established many trading posts from Gujarat to present day Kerela. After sixteen hundred, the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) took over the spice trade from the Portuguese. They obtained Indian calicoes and valued commodities like fine chintz, pepper and indigo. By the mid 1690, the V.O.C. expanded its operation to West Bengal. They established a trading post in Chinsurah, near Calcutta, from where they bought saltpetre, opium, raw silk and metals for export to Europe.

India was no longer the Orient - the fabulous land of the Middle Ages. It was the country of the Vedas, Upanishads, temples, maharajas, gurus, age-old cultures, different races, fascinating languages, exotic styles and richness, not to forget the timeless mystery and beauty. Thus, India became the most known land outside Europe in eighteenth century.

There were commercial and academic contacts between the Netherlands and India during the British rule. Sanskrit was taught at Leiden University as far back as 1865. Hendrik Kern was inaugurated Professor of Sanskrit on 18 October 1865 at the university. Indian literature made an inroad into Dutch literary circles.

One of the earliest Indian classical works, studied in the Netherlands, was Kalidasa’s  Shakuntala, and so was the Bhagavad Gita, another key to the treasure house of India’s thought, history and culture. Modern thinker-writers such as Vivekananda, Aurobindo,  Rabindranath Tagore too had their admirers in the Netherlands. The Dutch interest was much deeper than something purely academic. India was the land of spiritual wisdom and ancient texts, full of philosophical insight, written in a language of a civilisation, which blossomed even before Europe had any idea of the use of paper. The Indian wisdom was placed above the Western knowledge. This spiritual wisdom of India was self evident, like vodka and Russia, whisky and Scotland, wines and France, and cheese and the Netherlands.

Non-violent and peaceful struggle for the independence of India eventually bore fruit, and finally the world witnessed the emergence of India as an independent nation on 15 August 1947. A new phase in Indo-Dutch relationship started.

The Seventh largest and second most populous country in the world, India has long been considered a country of unrealised potential. A new spirit of economic freedom is now stirring in the country, bringing sweeping changes in its wake. A series of ambitious economics reforms aimed at deregulating the country and stimulating foreign investment has moved India firmly into the front ranks of the rapidly growing Asia Pacific region and unleashed the latent strengths of a complex and rapidly changing nation.

India is at present one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world. Skilled managerial and technical manpower that match the best available in the world and a middle class whose size exceeds the population of the USA or the European Union, provide India with a distinct cutting edge in global competition.

The following pages include some links which might be of interest to Indians as well as the Dutch.