As part of our trip in Delhi, the IndoGenius team organised for us to attend an event at the New Zealand High Commission. I tried to get together some traditional Indian clothing that I could rock to the event. I remembered I had a kurta and pyjama that I bought back in Pondi. I put them on, thinking it might be a passable look for the occasion. I ran it past Meetu to double check, and she said “nuh-uh,” telling me the outfit needed a Nehru jacket. Gilles said he could help me find one, and he took a small group of us to a local market for some shopping. After some deliberation, he recommended a dark red Nehru jacket, assuring me that it’d suit the mustard kurta I had back at the hotel. I took his advice and bought the jacket.
On the day of the event, the team had some time beforehand to get ourselves ready. Nick and Meetu stressed the importance of formal attire, scouring all of our outfits to make sure each of us looked presentable. Before leaving, Nick talked to some of us about the so-called ‘Indian Century,’ and reiterated his belief that India might just become, if it isn’t already, the most relevant place on Earth. I started to think about the rise of India, and I tried to conceptualise New Zealand’s place in these emerging realities; I thought this might be an interesting discussion to have at the High Commission.
After arriving, I grabbed a drink and listened to the opening speeches. At some point in the night, Foreign Minister Mahuta spoke to the audience about her visit to India, and the strategic importance to New Zealand of strengthening the Kiwi-Indian relationship. After a month spent in India, I’d come to appreciate the latent potential that still exists in that relationship. I grabbed a plate of food and started to talk to others at the event. I met some people and talked to them about their backgrounds, their careers, and their thoughts on the rise of India. I learned a lot that night and from those conversations, and from a month and half of listening to Nick talk about the reemergence of Asia. I learned that India is on track to surpass China as the most populous nation on Earth in just a couple of months, some reports even suggest that this momentous passing of the torch might have already happened. China reported a decline in their population, the first such instance in six decades. India, on the other hand, added more than ten million people in the last year alone. I learned that Bangalore has transformed into one of the tech capitals of Asia, that Mumbai has become one of the financial command centres of the Eastern hemisphere, and that Delhi is projected to become Earth’s largest megapolis later this decade, surpassing the Japanese capital of Tokyo; it’ll be as big as Canada, if not bigger, I got told.
I’m so grateful to have spent a month and a half in India, and I’m thankful to have had the privilege to have gone to the New Zealand High Commission and to have spoken to those I met. To be honest, I haven’t stopped thinking about those conversations. I think often about the emergence of India, and I think of the challenges and opportunities that this might present to New Zealand. If I’m honest, I don’t think these are quite clear yet. But it’s a fascinating topic to think about.