Embassy, Consulate-General, Consulates and NBSO's, India

My India 1: "full speed ahead"!

In the series: "My India", ambassador Stoelinga writes about 'his' India. This month he shares his first impressions of India.

In August I began my term as the Dutch ambassador in India. In that short time, one’s attention is of course attracted by things which are totally different or exactly match what you had expected.

Only five days after arrival, I had to go to the city of Bangalore to support the Dutch participation in an agricultural expo. I had no idea that Bangalore already has 8.5 million inhabitants. The airport is brand new and I was told that it was designed to receive twelve million passengers a year. But now, a few years after its completion, the airport of Bangalore is already too small. You might say: let’s plan a quick expansion. But nowadays India doesn’t have time to plan anymore. They are already building. Also, a viaduct is being built that stretches thirty kilometers from the airport right to the heart of the city.

It is clear that infrastructure, urban development, ports, airports and water works form a potentially huge market for Dutch companies. What to say about the Mumbai-New Delhi corridor, in which over a distance of 1600 km (the distance Netherlands-Rome) rail, road, airports and entirely new cities ("nodes") will be built. In India they consider our Randstad model an example to follow. So we "build" on that in our lobbying for Dutch companies in that sector.

During my last posting in Rome I had already become acquainted with the promotion of the Dutch creative industry. Fashion, architecture, furniture design, urbanism: the Italians could not get enough of it. Here in New Delhi it is mainly about regional planning (urban) and fashion. The furniture designers have not yet discovered India. They might think: "in Indian households they have their own ideas, their own taste, there is no space for our designers". But India is changing rapidly and has become a country furniture designers cannot ignore. That is why we’ve created a Dutch Design Workspace in Mumbai, which aims to stimulate contacts between Dutch designers and the Indian design market.

The Dutch fashion scene is starting to get a foot on the ground now in India. This not only applies to the export of our designers to India, but also to opportunities for collaboration. During the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, it became clear that the Dutch, for example Jan Taminiau and *DIED*, and their Indian colleagues, Suneet Varma, Rahul Khanna and Rohit Gandhi were highly inspired by each other.

In the Dutch participation in the fashion week the focus was on jeans and denim. Our Embassy supported this invasion of Dutch fashion in Delhi. For the inaugural reception we dressed up the trunks of two large trees with denim. It looked like two giant jeans. When I saw it I thought, for a small country doing business in the gigantic India, you need to think big. So those big pants were a good symbol.