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India and its Dutch History

Thanks to digitalization and procreation, the Dutch cultural sphere is now enriched by a vibrant Indian community. This connection, however, is far from new, as the Netherlands and India have a long history together that predates any computer development.

A look back in time

It was 150 years ago that the Dutch were the key players in trade during the early stages of European colonization when trading corporations were setting ships for the fertile Indian subcontinent. The Dutch East India Company, also known as the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), was their principal trade arm and the world’s first multinational corporation.

In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was founded to meet the increasing demands for Indian spices in Asia. VOC was such a success that the Dutch government granted it a trade monopoly for spice trading, primarily in the Dutch East Indies, now known as the Republic of Indonesia.

The firm was also the first to issue shares, which peaked during the Dutch “Tulip Mania,” a passion for tulip bulbs that is regarded as the world’s first major financial bubble. The VOC’s shares increased the company’s value to 78 million Dutch guilders.

Dutch traders made the most money on textiles and spices, and as they expanded their territory, they hired, transported, and dealt in labourers. That’s how an entire generation of Indians ended up in Suriname, then the Netherlands.

However, the good times did not last long. The Dutch East India Company began to deteriorate about the mid-eighteenth century. Many factors contributed to its collapse, many of which still bear lessons for mega-corporations today.

VOC was a publicly traded corporation that pays out significant dividends to its stockholders year after year. As a result, the company was unable to generate sufficient capital reserves to stay afloat. Another factor was employee corruption. Because they were stationed far away and had difficulty communicating, the employees gained a lot of money by engaging in private trade and passing on losses to the corporation. Political upheavals also had an impact on the company’s fortune.

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Today’s relationship between the Netherlands and India

India and the Netherlands now have significant political, economic, and commercial relationship, as well as a wide range of sectoral collaborations. Mutual high-level interactions have given momentum to India and Netherlands’ diverse relationships, allowing the two countries to strengthen and develop their burgeoning bilateral relationship. WAH (Water, Agriculture, and Health) are three foundations of bilateral ties.

The Netherlands was the fifth largest investor in India for FY 2020-21 with FDI inflows of USD 2.8 billion. And, the Netherlands was India’s 3rd largest trading partner in Europe in FY 2020-2021.

The Netherlands is also home to Europe’s largest Indian Diaspora, with a population of 2,00,000 Suriname-Hindustani Indians. Businessmen, knowledge workers, professionals, and students make up the majority of the approximately 48,000 NRIs/PIOs. In terms of the numbers of non-EU foreign students in the Netherlands, Indian students rank among the top three.

The never-ending love tale! While all of shared history and current trade relations are fascinating, Indians today are equally fascinated by the Dutch. 


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Image Credits : Unsplash