Ambassador lauds Kerala’s role

Staff Reporter

It was important to remember that the Dutch company’s relation with India was exclusively trade-based

KOCHI: Bob Hiensch, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India, said that Kerala played an important role in the relationship between India and Netherlands that dates back to the 17th century.

Talking at the inauguration of the renovated David Hall, gallery and Café here at Fort Kochi on Thursday, Mr. Hiensch said that the Hall was a symbol of the common history and shared heritage of the two countries.

The Netherlands’s Asia connection, he said, started with the launch of the Dutch East India Company in 1602. The company was the largest trading entity of its kind in the world and was the first company to issue stock, he observed.

The company reached out to the remotest parts of Asia as part of trade. “India was at the heart of the trading operations of the company, which conducted more trade with India than with any other Asian country,” Mr. Hiensch said.

The Ambassador said that in the middle of the 18th century the Dutch company conducted more trade with India than its chief rival the British East India Company.

“It was important to remember that the Dutch company’s relation with India was exclusively trade-based,” he reminded.

Mr. Hiensch recollected how Union Minister P. Chidambaram had during a recent visit to Netherlands remarked that what the Indians appreciated most about Dutch was that it never tried to colonize their country.

India was the largest recipient of Dutch development funds in the world since 2003. “Since then the focus of the Indo-Dutch relation shifted to economics and Netherlands remains the fifth largest investor in India,” he said. Besides, there is scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries.

Bilateral relations between countries that are focused on economics need an understanding of shared history and culture, he said.

Mr. Hiensch felt that the shared cultural and historical relation between the India and Netherlands could be a useful asset for promoting tourism.

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