In conversation: Indian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Reenat Sandhu

Eindhoven News had an opportunity to interview H.E. Madam Reenat Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the Netherlands. Ms Sandhu is known for her community initiatives, as people needed that, especially after the pandemic period. 

Mrs Sandhu began her career in the Indian Foreign Service in 1989. She served in various capacities at the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and Indian Missions abroad in a distinguished career spanning over thirty years since 1989. Mrs Sandhu was the Indian ambassador to Italy and San Marino earlier and served in the Ministry of External Affairs before moving to the Netherlands. She has an economics degree from the Delhi School of Economics and is married to the Ambassador of India to the United States of America, H.E. Mr Taranjit Sandhu. Together, they have two daughters.

Beena Arunraj: There are so many women out there who are balancing their private and professional lives. Do you have any advice for them?

Madam Ambassador: I think the world has changed tremendously. Today, most of the women are career women; they’re working. You do see that spirit of partnership and collaboration in all families has changed, where men and women are sharing responsibilities equally.  Many husbands/male partners are stepping forward, sharing the responsibilities. It is encouraging to see so many women joining the workforce and the men standing by them.

Beena Arunraj: Women are struggling to break through the glass ceiling. How do you reflect on that?

In India, too, women are breaking the glass ceiling. It exists in every field. Our current President is the first woman President from the tribal belt; we were also among the first to have a woman PM; the first woman in the UN General Assembly, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, was an Indian. Soon after India became Independent, we had Ms C.B. Muthamma, the first diplomat of India. There are so many success stories that show the strength of women. And even if women are not working, they’ve been the backbone of their families; they have helped their children and families progress. If you look at the freedom struggle in India, women played a critical role in supporting the freedom struggle with Mahatma Gandhi. We should have the belief in the strength of women and our capabilities.

Chaitali Sengupta: The recent embassy initiative, International Yoga Day, was a great success. It has been celebrated in many countries since 2014. Are you happy about the response you received in the Netherlands?

Madam Ambassador: Absolutely! We’ve been celebrating the International Day of Yoga in the Netherlands for many years since 2015, but this is the first time it is being done in Eindhoven. So, in that sense, it is very special. And the response that we’ve received every year has been growing. It is very encouraging.

Chaitali Sengupta: In Eindhoven, 500+ yoga enthusiasts participated in the event. And they’re not only Indians, but they came from other International groups in Eindhoven. What is your message to them?

Madam Ambassador: Yoga is something that we need to take to people all over the world, especially the youth because Yoga helps people to live better, healthier, and more fulfilling lives in so many different ways. It is not only exercise; it is a means of holistic well-being.  Yoga connects the mind with the body and gives you a sense of oneness with yourself and your surroundings. It helps to build inner peace and compassion, and once you have those qualities, you can cope with your everyday struggles, stresses, and diseases better because yoga has an answer for everything. That is something we should promote and take that message to the people. We need to talk about the health benefits it offers to all age groups. We also saw children performing. There is an answer to every disease in yoga. That is the reason the United Nations declared 21st June as the International Day of Yoga. There was unanimous support for it from all countries as they recognised that yoga has many health benefits and a lot of positive influence on people.

Interview by: Beena Arunraj and Chaitali Senguptha.


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