• Sweden's news in English

'Immodest Indians' to heal Swedish malady

The Local · 25 Oct 2013, 07:46

Published: 25 Oct 2013 07:46 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Swedes are well-travelled, they are well-educated. They really have no excuse to know so little about India," India's ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison tells The Local with a wink.

Swedes' lack of Indian knowledge soon became a primary challenge since arriving in Sweden, so Bose Harrison helped rally an advisory board to tackle it. A new series of events, dubbed India Unlimited, kicks off full-scale on October 31st with classic violinist L. Subramaniam gracing the stage of Stockholm's Berwaldhallen concert hall.

"He's created wonderful fusion music, he has composed for both the Oslo and New York philharmonics," Bose Harrison explains.

Watch L Subramaniam - Spanish Wave Live - Global Fusion Music

On November 4th, there's a tribute to Ravi Shankar at Stallet in Stockholm, and those interested in a slice of the Indian market can have it with a cuppa at the "India - Your cup of tea" business seminar and tea tasting in November.

The project managers have also helped bring over three Indian films to the Stockholm Film Festival. While they are all technically Bollywood - produced in Mumbai - they aren't typical of the genre.

"Monsoon Shootout, for example, is not a typical Bollywood film, it's quite dark," India Unlimited manager Sanjoo Malhotra tells The Local

The second film follows an errant lunchbox in the enormous dabawallah network - where housewives entrust their husband's lunch to an intricate delivery system that has been studied by foreign researchers for its extreme efficiency. The third film, ABCD - Anybody Can Dance, is lighthearted.

"These films represent the new modern Indian cinema," Malhotra adds.

He calls The Lunch Box "a foodie romance," and knowing the power of the taste bud, he has made sure a food tasting is also on the cards during the India Unlimited programme that will stretch into 2014. Malhotra has lived in Sweden for 16 years, and is now Swedish - "but I'll always be both," he laughs.

"He sees India with Swedish sensibilities, and sees Sweden with Indian genes, that never quite go away," Bose Harrison interjects.

"Not an interpreter of maladies, but of countries," she adds, a reference to Indian- American author Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning book.

And talking about the US, a big and young generation of Indian-Americans keep the US in the know about the subcontinent. The UK, meanwhile, has its ties to the former colonial crown jewel that keep them clued in. With neither current nor historical ties, in contrast, the Swedes are less on the ball.

In her frequent meetings with Swedish businesses, the ambassador recently stumbled across an observation that surprised her. A Swedish industrial giant confessed that its employees were keen to apply to job postings in China, but less so in India.

"Maybe I am an immodest Indian, but to me that is completely inexplicable, that young Swedes would go to China rather than India," Bose Harrison says.

Part of the reason could be the media blackout on all things India - unless horrific or stereotype-driven.

Story continues below…

And while the Wall Street Journal long ago helped set up business daily Mint in India and the New York Times covers the country in detail in its India Inc. section, Swedish media interest in India appears to be at best tepid, at worst stereotype-driven, with a disproportionate sprinkling of tigers and elephants.

The ambassador admits that communicating about a country of 1.3 billion, when most Swedes have never travelled further than the beach and party hot-spots of Goa or Kerala, is a difficult task. News reporting is either strictly business or non-existent. While Swedish public service radio and TV have contributors in India, Swedish print media have no full-time correspondents there (while many have two or more in the US). Coverage is limited.

Hence the name of the new project, Malhotra and Bose Harrison explain: India Unlimited.

"There is frontier-challenging creativity in India, which few Swedes know about," Bose Harrison concludes.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available