Mayor Van der Laan: “The past few days have resulted in another positive step forward in the deepening relationship between India and Amsterdam. With the help of our various partners, we were able to show just how attractive the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area can be for Indian companies wanting to access the European market. In addition, Amsterdam sees itself as a responsible capital that is eager to share what it knows about urban planning, mobility, water management and waste disposal. Agreements have been put in place to cooperate further in these areas. The visit also confirmed how much we have to learn from India. Just 20 years ago, this nation primarily drew international attention for its low labour costs, while today it’s a leader in information technology.”

Amsterdam as gateway to Europe

The delegation met with several companies, including companies already established in the Amsterdam Area, such as Cognizant, TCS and Infosys. There are currently 90 Indian companies operating in the Amsterdam Area, providing a total of 22,000 jobs. Amsterdam’s international position, its favourable quality of life, its thriving port, exceptional ICT infrastructure and the number of air connections offered by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol all contribute to attracting an ever-increasing number of international organisations.

Amsterdam's position as a major gateway to Europe was also on the agenda at the Port of Amsterdam’s annual seminar, held in Mumbai on 26 March 2015. Mayor Van der Laan opened the seminar, which attracted more than 120 visitors this year.

Building smart cities

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed plans to develop 100 smart cities throughout India. These cities would use innovation and technology to tackle urban problems in new ways. Amsterdam is seen as a good example of a smart city. As a result, the two parties shared knowledge, particularly relating to mobility, water, waste management and urban development. Agreements were also made as to how to work together in these areas in the future.

On 27 March 2015, Waternet International signed a collaborative agreement with Tata Trusts. The Amsterdam organisation will contribute its expertise to the Tata Water Mission, an initiative to bring clean drinking water and proper sanitation to areas where it is lacking.

The University of Amsterdam and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore signed a collaborative agreement focused on the mutual exchange of students and researchers. They will also work together on a study aimed at collecting data on the Kumbh Mela festival, which attracts some 60 million visitors. They hope to apply the findings of the study to large events elsewhere.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam signed a collaborative agreement with the Amity University, within which Amity pledges funding that will permit 25 students from Amsterdam the opportunity to study at Amity University for a few months. In addition, there were discussions about establishing an Amity campus in Amstelveen. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam also signed agreements with Era’s Lucknow Medical College, Amrita University and the National Law University.

Rainbow Home

On 23 March 2015, Mayor Van der Laan and Mayor Van 't Veld paid a visit to the Khushi Rainbow Home in New Delhi. Khushi provides permanent shelter to previously homeless girls. Aside from shelter, Rainbow Home offers the girls education, food and health care. Mayor Van der Laan also met with representatives from women’s organisations. At his invitation, representatives from these organisations will soon visit Amsterdam to meet and share knowledge with women’s organisations in the Dutch capital.

Culture and sport

As always, promoting cultural exchange was high on the delegation's agenda. An ensemble from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performed at several occasions throughout the visit, including a festive event celebrating a new partnership between the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. During this, Mayor Van ’t Veld and Mayor Van der Laan unveiled an artwork by Karel Appel. It was also an opportunity to showcase the cultural highlights of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area to an audience of journalists and tour operators. Additionally, Amsterdam Marketing shared its knowledge of city marketing during a roundtable session in New Delhi and a branding seminar in Mumbai. Meetings were also held with Indian cities wanting to establish city marketing policies.

On 27 March 2015, Mayor Van der Laan marked the start of construction of a Cruyff Court in Mumbai by playing football with local children. This will be the 201st Cruyff Court in the world but is the first in India. The Court will offer children from the Parel neighbourhood a place where they will be encouraged to take part in a variety of sports. The Mumbai Parel Cruyff Court is scheduled to open in June 2015.