By Poonam Joshi
Amsterdam [Netherlands], Oct 4 (ANI): The past 70 years - and even further beyond into history - have seen thousands of literary and historical works about India's long ties with Great Britain. But the British Raj was mere one - albeit significant - part of the giant jigsaw of foreign colonial powers that shaped and coloured the subcontinent's recent history.
In fact, the British were relative latecomers to India and had been preceded by the Portuguese, French and the Dutch.
It's a glaring hole in contemporary historical narratives that are set to be filled in - to an extent - by a new work by the Indian Ambassador to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony, whose book India and the Netherlands - Past, Present and Future - explores the uncharted history of the Dutch in India.
"The seeds of the book began at the time I was told that I was going to the Netherlands to serve as the Ambassador because the first thing I did was to try and travel within India to place within Indo-Dutch connection," said Rajamony.
"In the process of reading, studying and visiting places, I discovered so many interesting things which nobody knows about. People in India do not know, people in the Netherlands do not know. It is as if it is a forgotten history. It is as if suddenly one part of the history has vanished from people's mind," he added.
The book was launched at a seminar held at the historic Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on Monday. The event was attended by the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, who received the first copy in the presence of his glamorous wife Queen Maxima.
Guests included the Dutch Minister for Education, the Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam and the ambassadors of 26 countries. The event came ahead of the royal couple's historic state visit to India later this October.
In the richly illustrated and beautifully produced coffee-table tome, Rajamony explores that history from the very first arrival of a Dutch envoy to India in the early 1600's all the way to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's viral-making visit to the Netherlands in 2017.
And he fills the intervening 400 years with a splendid array of tales about the events, personalities and the cultural infusions that took place between two of the world's most distinctive cultures.
"I tried to put together all that I had seen and heard in a manner that is visually attractive and which can entice readers to research more. There just has not been enough work done on India-Netherlands history; as they say, a lot is forgotten and we need to bring all this back," he said.
On being asked how he sees the relationship between India and the Netherlands in the coming years, the Ambassador said, "The relationship between the two countries today is at its highest ever. In the last couple of years, we have had a number of high-level exchanges. Yet I believe we have still not done enough."
"The potential that there is, considering Netherlands' leadership position in the sector of water, agriculture, agro-exports, greenhouse cultivation can create wonders for India back home," he said.
The Ambassador looks ahead to an even more promising future - one in which an economically resurgent India collaborates with one of the world's most innovative economies to forge a brave new world built on cutting edge technology and sustainability.
Commenting after the launch of the book, King Willem-Alexander, who features in the book as the young crown visiting India in 1991, applauded Rajamony's effort: "It's a great labour of love and a wonderful celebration of our two country's' shared history". (ANI)
Book authored by Indian envoy to Netherlands explore, celebrate Indo-Dutch history
Poonam Joshi | Updated: Oct 04, 2019 18:18 IST
By Poonam Joshi