International

It’s ‘Modi Day’ for Sweden’s Indian diaspora

Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes a short walk with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven from Sager House to Rosenbad in Stockholm on April 17, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

When Bicky Chakraborty’s secretary asked him about his work schedule for April 17, he told her to mark it up as dedicated to one special event only: “Modi Day.”

For the Indian-origin Swedish entrepreneur, who arrived in this country in 1966 with no wealth but has built up a massive hotel empire since then, the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the inevitable rise of bilateral ties between the two nations.

Mr. Chakraborty, who counts former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu among his friends, has not been associated with Indian politics since he left the country, but has worked hard in his adopted country to fulfil what many would regard as the immigrant dream.

Now among the wealthiest Swedes of foreign origin, Mr. Chakraborty linked his remarkable success story to his desire to preserve heritage buildings. “It’s not what I’ve done but how I did it,” he told The Hindu, explaining that in many Swedish towns the buildings of the railway station, the city inn and the church were not being preserved as they should, and he made it his mission to protect them.

 

Commercial success followed in the wake of this endeavour, and today his Elite Hotels group offers rooms to travellers across the length and breadth of Sweden, from Kiruna in the far north to Malmo at the southern tip of the nation. And some of them are steeped in history: for instance, the Elite Plaza hotel in Stockholm counts Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Lenin, among the famous residents of that building.

Mr. Chakraborty in some senses is an exception to the diaspora trends facing Sweden and the Nordic nations in general. Numbering north of 50,000 for the Nordic region as a whole, the nearly 30,000 Indian-origin persons in Sweden have migrated here far more recently and typically work in the professional industries.

Bringing in Bollywood

One such young professional is Prashant Agarwal, the former president of the Delhi Dymanos football club, who has set up a wide range of ventures in sports, real estate, and films, now leading new projects in building up Sweden as a site for Bollywood movie production.

The community outreach event that Mr. Modi held at the University of Stockholm also brought in members of the wider diaspora community such as Shweta Pandit, grand-niece of musical genius Jasraj Pandit. Ms. Pandit told The Hindu that she was excited to be performing at the diaspora event of Mr. Modi for she would dedicate her songs to the jawans of India who deserved recognition for their immense sacrifices. Among her planned repertoire for the evening there were also tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, she said.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 2:37:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/its-modi-day-for-swedens-indian-diaspora/article23575201.ece

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