Ambassador Venu Rajamony looks back on a vibrant posting in the Netherlands

Interview with H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India
6 November 2020

Exactly a year ago after His Excellency Mr. Venu Rajamony, the Ambassador of India released his book titled “India and the Netherlands, Past, Present and Future” and after King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima’s five-day state visit to India, does Ambassador Rajamony’s tenure in the Netherlands come to an end, as he will be retiring after a diplomatic career spanning 33 years.
Ambassador Rajamony, author, scholar of international relations and former journalist, has since his arrival in the Netherlands in June 2017, relentlessly highlighted the relationship between the two nations and instigated vibrant exchanges in the fields of culture, sports, and yoga.

Diplomat Affairs Magazine is delighted to have been able to Interview Ambassador Rajamony.

1. Excellency, there have been many high-profile achievements during your mandate, are there any particular professional highlights you would like to share?

I leave the Netherlands satisfied at having achieved a great deal.

Professional highlights during my tenure here include several high-level visits both ways. Their Majesties the King and Queen of the Netherlands paid a State Visit to India in 2019 and Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid an official visit in 2018. Both were accompanied by the largest ever trade missions from the Netherlands to India.

Prime Minister Modi visited the Netherlands in 2017, a few weeks after my arrival. Chief Ministers of three important Indian provinces of West Bengal, Kerala and West Bengal also came to the Netherlands over the last three years.
The relations between India and Netherlands are at present the highest ever. It must be mentioned that the Netherlands is not just a significant trade partner but is also the third largest investor in India and the second most important destination for Indian investments.

I was very happy that over the last three years the Embassy was able to organize a number of high-profile events which significantly boosted the image of India. These include Yoga Day celebrations at Museumplein and the Dam Square of Amsterdam, Gandhi marches for non- violence through the streets of The Hague, Bollywood on a Boat tourism initiative on the canals of Amsterdam on King’s Day and our national day celebrations at prestigious venues such as the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam and the Grote Kerk in The Hague with the participation of high level dignitaries. Dignitaries who attended our events include Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, King’s Commissioner Jetta Klijnsma, Mayor Jan van Zanen, President of the Senate Dr. Jan Anthonie Bruijn, Minister of Infrastructure Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi etc.

Finally, the highlight of my stay here was the authoring of two books titled ‘India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future’ & ‘What Can We Learn From The Dutch: Rebuilding Kerala Post 2018 Floods’. I was greatly honored that Their Majesties the King and Queen of the Netherlands attended the launch at the Rijksmuseum of the book on India and the Netherlands and His Majesty the King himself received the first copy.
I had the rare opportunity to appear before the International Court of Justice on behalf of India in the matter of ‘Chagos Archipelago’ and was member of the Indian delegation which participated in many important hearings in the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, especially the Jadhav case against Pakistan. Finally, I was leader of the Indian delegation to all meetings of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Executive Council of the OPCW over the last three years.

I conclude my tenure with gratitude for the friendship and support extended by the Dutch Government. I have been overwhelmed by the love and affection of Dutch friends and the large Indian community in this country.

2. Being a career diplomat with over three decades of experience, tremendously active and successful, your achievements are dazzling, is it challenging to retire and no longer be involved in such an exciting world?

Retirement is an important turning point in life, especially when it comes after 34 years of service as a diplomat. I will surely miss the exciting world of diplomacy. I am at the same time looking forward to discovering new horizons and finding fresh avenues for my energy and talent.

3. How has the pandemic effected your professional and personal life?

The pandemic has affected everyone’s professional and personal life, including mine. I feel sad that I have been confined to my residence for much of my last year with limited public contact. At the same time, I am happy I was in the Netherlands during the pandemic. Life has been relatively comfortable and restrictions not too severe. On the personal front, it is unfortunate I was not able to meet my two sons who live in Delhi and New York for the last seven months. But my wife who travels a lot for her work, has been here since March and that has compensated for it.

4. What will you miss the most about the Netherlands and what do you take with you?

There are many things that I will miss about the Netherlands. I will miss the extraordinary beauty of the country, the flowers, the tulip season, the national parks, the historical monuments, the museums, the great art, the vibrant Indian community and the friendly Dutch people. I will take with me the Dutch ethic of hard work pragmatism, and love for physical fitness, especially the passion for cycling.
Ambassador Rajamony will have his farewell call with His Majesty the King on November 9.

On our side, we would like to thank, Ambassador Rajamony for his collaboration with Diplomat Affairs Magazine during his tenure in the Netherlands, for his “keeping in touch with the Dutch” and staunch promotion of Indian companies in the Netherlands, and for his, and his spouse Dr. Saroj Thapa’s warm hospitality. We regret not being able to organize a proper bid farewell for them as honorary members of Diplomat Club Wassenaar due to COVID-19 restrictions and wish them both all the very best for the future.

Video book presentation: “India and the Netherlands, Past, Present and Future”
Click to view video

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