Ambassador Fons Stoelinga on the Rise of India

January 17, 2021

Saturday, January 16, we hosted our online Winter Meeting with Fons Stoelinga, former Dutch ambassador to Mali, Italy and India. After studying civil engineering in Delft, he joined Shell. In 1980 he became a diplomat. Centered on the CSS core themes of prosperity and freedom, we talked with him about India, the country where he lived and worked from 2012 to 2018, and on which he wrote a book.

What did we discuss?

India is at a tipping point today, in the midst of a changing international world order. It is a country with enormous potential and a market that is far from saturated. For example, India is expected to surpass China in terms of population by 2025, and to become the world’s third largest economy by 2030. In addition, India is already the largest democracy in the world, and it will likely remain so in the future.

Furthermore, India has the ‘mathematics factor’. Every year there is an unprecedented number of graduating engineers, and the country has a very large and high-quality IT sector. Moreover, India has a relatively stable democracy and rule of law, with an ambitious civil service. It would hence make sense for the Netherlands to see India as an ally, bilaterally or through the European Union.

What may we conclude?

India is a great unknown in the West, also in the Netherlands. It does not get the attention it deserves.

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