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Lecture | Studium Generale

India, land of the future

Wednesday 26 February 2020
Anna van Buerenplein
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague

India is booming. Half of its population is twenty five years and younger and in 2025 the country will have the largest population in the World; the economy is on a growth path of 7.5% a year and in 2030 it will be the third economy in the world. Because the middle class is growing strongly, the increase in the consumer goods market is 15% per year and in domestic flights even 20% per year; Indians have technology in their DNA and 500,000 engineers graduate every year. In addition to all the technological and economic opportunities that this offers, India is also one of the few democracies in Asia and therefore an indispensable ally for the West in the rapidly changing geopolitical world order. But the EU and India have a blind spot for each other.
At the same time, the country is struggling with huge challenges: hundreds of millions still living in poverty; the change in the subordinate position of women in Indian society is very slow; extreme airpollution in large urban agglomerations; India is home to 16% of the world population, but only 4% of world’s groundwater reserves; farming is small scale, but cannot be changed into large scale farming because that would put hundreds of millions out of work; already now, annually 12 million jobs have to be created. Domestic politics are changing rapidly: the most important factor in elections now is India’s poverty. At the same moment Hindu-nationalism is playing a larger role in a country that has -after Indonesia and Pakistan- the third largest Muslim population in the World.
As a former ambassador of the Netherlands to India, Fons Stoelinga knows the country like no other. In his lecture he outlines the most important socio-economic, cultural and political changes. Which role will India play on the world stage? How do you manage a country with (in 2025) 1.5 billion inhabitants, half of whom live in extreme poverty? And how do you achieve inclusive growth? What can India and the Netherlands mean for each other?

Fons Stoelinga is a former diplomat and was ambassador in Italy, Mali and from 2012-2018 in India. He is now advising Indian companies in the Netherlands. In October his book: “India - Land of the Future” was launched by De Kring publishing house.

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