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AsiaIndia: a major power that prefers to take a neutral stance

India: a major power that prefers to take a neutral stance

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NETHERLANDS, April 1 – News item | 01-04-2022 | 17:22

India is a major player on the world stage and in the Pacific, and on many issues it adopts a neutral stance vis-à-vis other major powers like Russia, China and the US. President Kovind’s coming state visit to the Netherlands is a sign of the good relations that India and the Netherlands have enjoyed for the past 75 years.
India is not just a country; it is a veritable subcontinent. With its 1.4 billion people – a sixth of the world’s population – it’s an Asian giant and the world’s largest democracy. In economic terms, it’s also a force to be reckoned with: by 2030 India is expected to have the third-biggest economy in the world. In political terms, India is also playing an increasingly significant role on the world stage.

This week (starting April 4th) Indian President Ram Nath Kovind will visit the Netherlands, his first state visit since the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has also had a severe impact on India over the past two years. The visit is a sign of the good ties between India and the Netherlands. Our countries work together on a variety of issues, including water management and flood protection, agriculture, healthcare and sustainable energy.


India and the Netherlands have worked together for some time on matters of water scarcity, water security and water quality. In the Indian state of Kerala, the Netherlands has served in an advisory capacity regarding the construction and maintenance of drainage infrastructure for the enormous amount of rainwater that falls during monsoon season. In addition, heavily polluted water in the Ganges basin in Uttar Pradesh is purified with the help of Dutch expertise.

This state visit by President Kovind also marks the start of the celebrations of 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A few weeks before India became independent on 15 August 1947, the Dutch ambassador, A. Lamping, arrived in New Delhi. He got there just in time to hand over his letters of credence to the British viceroy, Lord Mountbatten. As a result, the Netherlands was able to establish diplomatic ties with the newly independent India, becoming only the third country to do so, after the US and China.


India is pursuing an increasingly active role on the world stage. It has provided troops to 49 UN missions, and for years it has been campaigning for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Since 2007, together with the US, Australia and Japan, it has formed part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), a forum in which these four countries are in regular contact and hold joint military exercises.

Despite its growing international role, India’s main focus continues to be on domestic issues. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the country’s social and religious differences and negatively impacted human rights.

This is an issue that India mainly regards as a domestic matter, however. At times, it can be very difficult for non-governmental organisations in the field of human rights to do their work in India. Two years ago, Amnesty International closed its offices in the country after the Indian government froze its bank accounts. Prior to that, Amnesty had published critical articles on human rights violations being committed against various groups in the country, including Muslims.

Human rights dialogue

That said, Europa and India are engaged in a human rights dialogue. At the dialogue held in April 2021 in New Delhi, the EU and India agreed to meet and hold discussions on an annual basis.

In many international issues – the war in Ukraine being a recent example – India adopts a neutral position. It has been one of the few countries not to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it maintains good relations with both countries. That opens up opportunities for mediation. India seeks to follow the middle way in this regard.


In recent years, the European Union has actively sought to collaborate with India on various issues. Major international issues, such as climate change, cannot be addressed without India’s involvement. At last November’s climate summit in Glasgow, major polluters China and India both voted against phasing out coal.

At the same time, India is taking steps to expand its use of sustainable energy and deal with climate change. The country has one of the fastest-growing proportions of sustainable energy usage in the world. What’s more, the first fully electric car made in India recently rolled off the production line; and a great deal is also being done in terms of innovation. In that connection, the European Union is working closely with India on innovation and knowledge-sharing in relation to sustainable energy. India recognises that sustainable energy and technology are not only the way of the future but also that they can yield substantial economic gains.

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