India country of the future

All you need to know about … India, Country of the Future*

Date: Time: 13:00 Location: Black Box, Esplanade Building, Tilburg University

Stoelinga was the Dutch ambassador to India from 2012 to 2018. In that period, he witnessed the country’s rapid modernization. It is well on its way to becoming the third largest economy in the world. He also noticed that the country is barely on the radar here. In his lecture, he introduces India to those not very familiar with the country. (language: English)

Time: 13:00-14:15 hrs. (doors open at 12:45 hrs.). 
Admission is free, but number of seats is limited so be on time: doors close when all seats are taken!
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India is booming;

  • half the population is 25 or younger and in five years’ time, the country will have the largest population of any country in the world;
  • the economy is growing by 7.5 % every year and in ten years’ time, it will be the third (!) economy in the world;
  • since the middle class is growing strongly, the consumer goods market is increasing by 15% a year, and the number of domestic flights is increasing by a staggering 24% a year;
  • the people in India have science in their DNA, and every year there are some 500,000 students graduating with a degree in engineering.


In addition to all the technological and economic opportunities it offers, India is also one of the few democracies in Asia, and thus a vital Western ally in rapidly changing geopolitical relations. But India and the EU seem to be oblivious of each other.


At the same time, the country is struggling with enormous  challenges: extreme poverty and the gap between rich and poor, the subordinate position of women - as evidenced by the horrific rape stories that regularly appear in the media - the sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims, and extreme air pollution in the large urban agglomerations.


As the former Dutch ambassador to India, Fons Stoelinga knows the country like no other. In his lecture, he will outline the most important socio-economic, cultural, and political changes. What role is India going to play in the world, and is the relationship with archrival Pakistan (a nuclear power, just like India) changing? How do you run a country with 1.25 billion inhabitants, half of whom live in abject poverty, and how do you achieve inclusive growth?

What can India and the Netherlands do for each other? What role does King Willem-Alexander’s official state visit to India this October play in our relationship with India? In 2015 and 2018, Prime Minister Rutte visited India with a large business delegation: What do we get out of visits like these?

Fons Stoelinga

Fons Stoelinga was stationed as a diplomat and ambassador in Italy and Mali, among other countries, and as ambassador to India from 2012 to 2018. He currently works as an advisor to Indian companies in the Netherlands. In October, his book India – Land van de toekomst (India, Country of the Future) will be published.

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This event is an initiative of  Academic Forum .

Contact: Annelieke Koster (Academic Forum).

* This event may count towards the Academic Forum Certificate.