The first trading ship from the Netherlands arrived in India in 1602 as the harbinger of a cross-cultural legacy that remains relevant even today, proving that India’s relationship with Europe was not determined only by Great Britain. Traces of settlements that exist all along the coastline highlight the significant place India occupied in the Dutch world view. From the 17th century onwards, Dutch East India Company officials successfully strived to disseminate knowledge on Indian politics, economy, religion, culture, flora and fauna throughout Europe. Some of them were passionate Indophiles who harboured anti-colonial views. Even after Dutch dominance in Europe’s maritime trade with India ended, the relationship continued to flourish in various spheres including spirituality and theosophy. It laid the foundation of the contemporary relationship between the two nations secured by strong economic ties, and vibrant exchanges in the fields of culture, sports, and yoga. This elegant volume meanders down history’s byways and presents vivid snapshots of relations between the two nations over the centuries. It brings to life the compelling personalities whose contributions shaped the Indo-Dutch discourse and also skillfully strings together nuggets of little-known information. Easy to read and highly informative, this lively record of the Dutch East India Company period, with little known historical facts and outstanding art from museums and international private collections, illustrate the ethos of a lost time. It reminds us that India and the Netherlands, above all, share a cultural and intellectual resilience, which has outlasted the challenges of change. Browsed at leisure or absorbed at one go, this eclectic and insightful book sheds comprehensive light on an often overlooked and underappreciated chapter of history. It also emphasises the bilateral strength of present-day ties, and the infinite mutual potential that the future holds for India and the Netherlands.
Venu Rajamony is the Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He is also responsible for India’s relations with international legal institutions based in The Hague such as the International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbivvtration as well as the Permanent Representative of India to the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A career diplomat for over 33 years, Rajamony is a scholar of international relations and a former journalist. Prior to the Netherlands, he was Press Secretary to the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and Consul General of India in Dubai. He has served in Indian Missions in Beijing, Hong Kong, Geneva, and Washington DC as well as in important positions in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of External Affairs. He is author of a monograph India –China-US Triangle: A ‘Soft’ Balance of Power System in the Making and a book India & The UAE: In celebration of a Legendary Friendship, both of which have been translated into many languages. He is also co-author of a 2019 book, What We Can Learn from the Dutch - Rebuilding Kerala post 2018 Floods.