• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
'Sweden must connect the dots with India'
Indian Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison. Photo: Indian Embassy Stockholm

'Sweden must connect the dots with India'

The Local · 4 Mar 2015, 09:00

Published: 04 Mar 2015 09:00 GMT+01:00

Stockholm, the Venice of the North, the capital of Scandinavia, is the number one tourist destination of all the Nordic countries combined.

It’s also one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, and one of the most innovative.

But it’s also relatively isolated – a roadblock upon which it could stumble.

“Stockholm is on the north fringe of Europe,” Banashri Bose Harrison tells The Local. “But in terms of perception it is much worse. When you tell people that it’s just two hours from Frankfurt, their eyebrows go up. They think it’s farther.”

Bose Harrison, ambassador from India to Sweden since 2012, has spearheaded multiple efforts to increase cooperation between the two nations. A key programme that the embassy initiated last year, India Unlimited, involves organizing a week of  events each year to raise awareness in Sweden about India – and vice versa.

“When I came to Sweden I was surprised by how little people know about contemporary India,” Bose Harrison recalls. “The knowledge is completely outdated, from both sides.”

Armed with a postgraduate degree in economics and some 30 years of international experience, the Bengali diplomat wants to do something about it – for the benefit of all.

“There is great potential for relationships between Sweden and India,” Bose Harrison explains. “India, in its growth process, is focusing on certain areas, areas which are a wonderful fit with the technologies that Sweden is very strong in.”

While Sweden, due to its limited size and human resources, will never be a manufacturing superpower, it is a technological and innovation hub. But India is home to 1.2 billion people – many of whom are looking for work.

The two countries are perfectly poised for a symbiotic relationship in which Sweden could offer exactly what India needs to move forward, Bose Harrison says.

“There is wonderful technology and innovation coming from Sweden. India can be the market, the place where you can manufacture this technology at competitive costs and even develop it further for third country markets.”

Furthermore, the massive Indian market could be an economic goldmine for small Swedish companies which would otherwise be limited.

 “One example which illustrates this perfectly is TrueCaller,” Bose Harrison says, referring to a Swedish start-up app which connects phone numbers to wider databases, a sort of advanced caller-ID.

“In India we still struggle with scams and corruption, and the app makes scams more difficult,” Bose Harrison explains. “So the app’s biggest market is actually India, with 45 million users.”

But it’s not just about what Sweden and India can do for each other, she says. It’s also about what they can do for the world.

“If India and Sweden collaborate to reduce India’s carbon emissions, everybody gains,” Bose Harrison says. “And if Sweden develops a life-saving cancer detector which can be produced at a third of the cost in India, everybody gains.”

So why aren’t Sweden and India already working hand-in-hand?

“For these companies to work together they need to first know about each other, and be able to visit each other,” the diplomat explains.

Therein lies the problem.

“It’s not the physical distance itself, but the lack of connectivity which naturally leads to a complete lack of awareness,” Bose Harrison explains, pointing out that the US and India are more connected despite the greater distance between them.

Indeed, there are no direct flights from Sweden to India, and travelling through Helsinki or Frankfurt, as the ambassador usually does, makes it a 16-hour trip.

 “Stockholm has created a brand for itself, calling itself the heart of Scandinavia, but Copenhagen and Helsinki are much better connected,” Bose Harrison exclaims.

“There’s a real issue here. Stockholm has to get its act together and live up to the description it has given itself.”

Of course, it’s a convoluted issue, far from black and white. Any airline would offer more flights if the demand were higher and such journeys were profitable. But mindset and marketing could make a world of difference.

“During my first few months here, I noticed that the tourist boards focused only on China,” Bose Harrison recalls.

“But India is already the country sending the largest groups of tourists to Sweden, and it’s growing. They have to market it more though.”

Despite Sweden’s inherent disadvantages – “the climate and the location” – it possesses a wealth of traits it could use to its advantage.

“For one, Sweden doesn’t capitalize nearly enough on the fact that it is practically an English speaking country,” she remarks.

Read also: Is the world wrong to link Sweden with sexiness?

“People who come here do not need to depend on a guide; they can wander around and discover Sweden on their own. For educational exchange as well as tourism, that is a huge asset.”

In her position as ambassador, Bose Harrison is doing all she can to increase cooperation between the two nations. The second annual India Unlimited Event will kick off in May 2015, and preparations are already in full swing. The embassy is planning a day filled with events in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, with yoga, Indian dance, food, and more.

“It’s been a voyage of discovery for me as well,” she says.

“I went to the School of Dance and Circus and met three different sets of people doing things which are connected to India. And Karlstad [in central Sweden] has a sister-city relationship with Benares, the heart of Hinduism. There are so many connections that already exist. We just have to connect the dots.”

But India Unlimited is not just about promoting India in Sweden – it’s also about promoting Sweden in India. It’s a two-way street.

“Planes need passengers flying in both directions,” Ambassador Bose Harrison explains.

“That is why the Indian Embassy and the platform we helped to create ‘India Unlimited’ are not just creating awareness of India in Sweden but of Sweden in India.  We want to connect businesses, artistes, chefs, writers…I truly believe that the potential for co-creation is unlimited.”

This article is the first in an ongoing series produced by The Local in partnership with ConnectSweden

Related links:

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Sweden's Spotify hits 39 million subscribers
Spotify is gaining listeners. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

Spotify has grown by nine million paying subscribers in five months, fending off competition from rivals.

Prosecutor wants asylum stabber convicted of murder
Prosecutor Linda Wiking. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

The man was convicted of aggravated manslaughter for stabbing a worker to death at a home for young refugees in Sweden.

Old Swedish cash worth billions still in circulation
Old Swedish money. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Hand in your invalid Swedish bills to the bank by the end of the month.

Sweden moves to battle high rate of drug deaths
Sweden has among Europe's highest drug-induced mortality rates. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/TT

Sweden has among the highest number of drug-related deaths in the EU despite its zero-tolerance policy. The government wants to find out why.

Human skeleton found on abandoned farm in Sweden
Police at the farm in Hörby. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect human remains found in a well on an abandoned farm in rural Sweden belonged to a man who was murdered.

The Local List
You'll never really be Swedish without trying this weird food
Kebab pizza. It exists. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The Local's intern Saina Behnejad on her love-hate relationship with Swedish cuisine.

Sweden's Stenson pulls out of Barclays with injured knee
Henrik Stenson at the Olympics this summer. Photo: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Henrik Stenson's injury throws doubt on Europe's chances at next month's Ryder Cup.

The Local Recipes
How to make this delicious Swedish crayfish pasta
Swedish crayfish pasta. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Combine the Swedish favourite of crayfish with pasta to impress with this simple yet tasty dish.

Drunken Christmas goat burner risks four years in jail
The Christmas goat looks at the fireworks and contemplates its future. Photo: Mats Åstrand/TT

His singed eyebrows were a dead giveaway.

Joe Biden: 'Sweden has shown great leadership'
Joe Biden, left, and Stefan Löfven. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

US Vice President Joe Biden praised Sweden for "punching way above its weight" in the global refugee crisis.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Travel
What are Sherpas doing on Sweden's highest mountain?
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,395
jobs available