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Indians in Sweden: 'Nations and communities cannot exist in silos'

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Indians in Sweden: 'Nations and communities cannot exist in silos'
Almedalen Week will take place on the island of Gotland during the last week of June. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

What India can bring to Sweden's biggest political event of the year, why sex is not an official Swedish sport despite rumours, and much more in The Local's monthly Indians in Sweden newsletter.



Almedalen Week is less than a week away. My first experience of Sweden's biggest political festival was in 2017, when I saw the otherwise tranquil town of Visby on the island of Gotland transform into a coveted hotspot.

Almost overnight, thousands of people appeared on the streets of Visby to attend the over 2,000 seminars that take place during the week. 

Industry representatives, political leaders including the prime minister, NGOs, academia, scientists, and media – all walking down the same alleys, participating in the same seminars, dining at the same restaurants. 

To me this was truly magical because it conveyed so much about openness to new ideas and a willingness to learn.

Started in 1968 by Sweden’s former Prime Minister Olof Palme on the back of a truck at Almedalen Park, the week has grown into one of the world’s largest events that draws people and groups from Sweden, Europe and more recently Asia to exchange ideas and network.

It is this vibrant energy and the diversity of the conversations at the seminars that sowed the seed of an India presence during Almedalen Week; and with that began the genesis of the platform Engaging India at Almedalen – a platform to foster cooperation, collaboration and connections between the industry, government, academia and civil society from Sweden and India.

So why do we need such a platform in a Nordic-centric venue such as Almedalen Week? 


Events over the past few years have, more than ever, shown us that nations and communities cannot exist in silos, especially on issues of climate action and sustainable development. There is an urgent need to collaboratively innovate and find solutions. True collaboration can happen when people start to converse at the same table (platform), understand each other’s perspectives, and co-think on global issues.

The fourth edition of Engaging India at Almedalen is on June 29th, with the theme “Samband for a Sustainable Planet”. Samband means “a connection” and is the same word in Swedish and Hindi. This year is special, since 2023 marks 75 years of Sweden-India diplomatic relations, Sweden holds the EU Presidency, and India holds the G20 Presidency.

You can attend Engaging India at Almedalen in person on June 29th at E22, Almedalsbibliotek, Uppsala University Campus Gotland, or watch the live streaming at Almedalen Week will take place between June 27th and July 1st.

While the festival is over half a century old, each year is unique and an immense learning experience, because of the people who participate and their willingness to engage. This is an extraordinary annual event, and I hope someday you will witness it in person.

Best wishes,

Rupali Mehra


The Local would like to thank Rupali Mehra, the founder of impact communications company Content People and an organising partner of Engaging India at Almedalen, for contributing to this month's newsletter.

Here's what The Local has been writing about for Indians in Sweden:

Sweden-India Business Council marks 20th anniversary

The Sweden-India Business Council last month celebrated its 20th anniversary, with an event attended by people such as businessman Marcus Wallenberg, Swedish Infrastructure and Housing Minister Andreas Carlson, and India’s ambassador to Sweden, Tanmaya Lal.

Founded in 2003, the council today has more than 250 members and partners and aims to facilitate trade, investment, development and tech collaboration between the two countries.

“By connecting Sweden and India, we open up a world of business opportunities. We combine Sweden’s innovation with India’s market potential for successful business relations,” said Cecilia Oldne, who runs the Sweden India Tech Community (SITEC) and is also the chief India representative at Sweden-India Business Council, in a press statement sent to The Local.

“Together, we build bridges of collaboration and create partnerships which benefit both Swedish and Indian businesses. We’re shaping a promising future by connecting these nations.”

Sweden plans language and civics tests for permanent residency

You may have seen that the government is planning to introduce new permanent residency requirements which would test applicants on their knowledge of Swedish and Sweden. 

An inquiry released last month proposes that these tests be rolled out in 2027, so if you’re already living in Sweden on a temporary permit you should have time to apply for permanent residency before they come into force (although it’s worth noting that Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard told reporters that she would prefer to roll the tests out earlier than 2027).

We’ve written several articles on The Local about these plans, including an in-depth explainer, as well as two articles looking at what the language and civics sections of the test could entail.

Man charged with forcing 11 people from India into labour in Sweden

The trial of a man who allegedly lured 11 people from India to Sweden on the false promise of work, only to exploit them and force them into labour, is under way.

The man, based in Södertälje, is accused of having promised 10 men and one woman from Punjab that he would get them full-time jobs with a monthly salary of around 23,000 kronor in Sweden, if they first paid him 200,000-230,000 kronor, according to charges seen by The Local.

Once they arrived in Sweden, however, there were no full-time jobs for them. According to the charges, they were instead forced to work for the man, who is also originally from Punjab but has been a Swedish citizen for years, under poor conditions. The trial is set to end on July 4th.


Has Sweden really recognised sex as an official sport?

Have any family members from back home asked you whether Sweden has recognised sex as an official sport, hosting the European Championships in sex? You’re not alone. These rumours were wrongly reported in several Indian media, including the Times of India, earlier this month.

The true story is: No, sex is not an official sport in Sweden. The Local even asked the Swedish Sports Confederation, who confirmed that although they did actually receive an application from a fringe group calling itself the Swedish Sex Federation, the application was rejected (because they hadn’t submitted the proper paperwork, which makes this the most Swedish story ever). 

This group did organise a competition they called the European Sex Championships, but it wasn’t an official competition, just a bunch of people having sex live on camera with scores handed out to the best, er, performers. There you have it. No more than an orgy in a teacup.


How to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve

Are you celebrating Sweden’s arguably biggest holiday this week? Midsummer’s Eve falls on June 23rd and despite it being a very traditional, all-things-Swedish holiday, it is actually more inclusive than a lot of other events, and a great opportunity for foreigners to get involved.

Here are five ways to celebrate a Swedish Midsummer. Let us know if you enjoyed it, and if you would like to share your story with fellow readers, send us a picture of your Midsummer’s Eve.

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