The huge economic, cultural and political changes and the geopolitical role of India, by former Ambassador Fons Stoelinga.
India is booming:
- Half of the population is aged 25 and under, and in five years’ time the country will have the highest population;
- The economy is growing by 7.5% a year, and in ten years’ time it will be the 3rd (!) economy in the world.
- Because of the strong growth of the middle class, the increase in the consumer goods market is 15% a year and of inland flights as much as 24% a year;
- The Indians have the beta factor in their DNA with 500,000 engineers graduating every year.
Besides all the technological and economic opportunities that this offers, India is also one of the few democracies in Asia and thus an indispensable ally for the West in the rapidly changing geo-political relations. But the EU and India don't recognise each other's value.
At the same time, the huge country is struggling with gigantic challenges: the enormous poverty and differences in income, the subordinate position of women (evidenced by the terrible stories of rape that regularly appear in the media), the sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims, and extreme air pollution in the large urban agglomerations.
As former ambassador of the Netherlands in India, Fons Stoelinga knows the country very well. In his lecture, he outlines the most important socio-economic, cultural and political changes. What role will India play on the global stage, and is its relationship with arch rival Pakistan (like India: an atomic power) changing? How do you govern a country with 1.25 billion inhabitants, half of whom live in abject poverty, and how do you achieve inclusive growth?
How can India and the Netherlands help each other? Where are there opportunities and possibilities for exchange students, for example? What role will the State visit by King Willem-Alexander to India (in October 2019) play in our relationship with India? In 2015 and 2018, Prime Minister Rutte visited India with a large business delegation: what do such visits generate?
Fons Stoelinga is a former diplomat and ambassador in Italy, Mali, and from 2012-2018 in India. He now advises Indian companies in the Netherlands. ‘India – Land van de toekomst’ published by De Kring appears in October.
Organised by Studium Generale in collaboration with the Dutch Society for International Affairs (Nederlands Genootschap voor Internationale Zaken).