Indian Ambassador meets with GISA

On Saturday, Ambassador of India Venu Rajamony met with the Indian diaspora at the RUG. Inspired by their work, he says, the embassy is developing a new association for Indian students and alumni.
By Megan Embry / Photo by D. S. Arjun Krishnan

The intimate meet-and-greet, hosted by the Groningen Indian Students Association (GISA) at the Nijenborg building, was attended by about fifty Indian students and staff. During a brief presentation and the question and answer session that followed, Rajamony encouraged participants to contribute to India’s growing global prestige. ‘The link between India and those who live outside India is like an umbilical cord’, he says. ‘As you rise, India benefits. Whether you are here or in India, there are great things you do for India – as well as for the local communities in which you live.’

A new association

Since its founding in 2006, GISA has become one of the largest and most active student associations at the RUG, with 120 currently registered students and over 700 members on Facebook. GISA’s success supporting Indian students in Groningen is exemplary, says Rajamony. ‘Inspired by your example, the embassy will organize a “student’s day”. We invite students from all over the Netherlands to come to the ambassador’s house, to sit together, to discuss how they can help and support each other.’

To emulate GISA’s success, the embassy has launched a new umbrella student organization: the Netherlands/India Students and Alumni Association (NISA). NISA will connect Indian students and alumni throughout the country, and will also help them find jobs and internships – an issue all internationals struggle with in the Netherlands. Rajamony urges GISA members: ‘Please give them all the support you can. Lead from the front. Guide students across the Netherlands with your experience.’

A new image

Rajamony also wants the Indian diaspora at the RUG to share the embassy’s goal of ‘advancing the interests of India’. The world is starting to see India differently, he says, in part because of the success of Indian students abroad. Students at the RUG can accelerate India’s rise by educating their Dutch peers about India, encouraging business and travel, and contributing to social and technological progress. ‘India has transformed from a land of snake charmers and beggars to the tech billionaires of Silicon Valley. All of you are part of that change.’

That might seem like a lot of pressure to put on college students, but GISA president Aditya Iyer doesn’t see it that way. ‘Indians usually take pride in being representatives for India. People may have misconceptions about India from the media; the ambassador is just encouraging us to make sure the right information is available.’

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