Notes From Sweden
I sat down to write this report midst a real-life crime drama that has gripped both Sweden and Denmark. There is something about the Scandinavian landscape, for it inspires some of the world’s best crime writing. However, real-life crime rate is one of the world’s lowest among the placid, rule-following Scandinavians. That’s why the alleged murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall somewhere in the Oresund Strait by Danish entrepreneur-inventor Peter Madsen has sent shock waves across the two countries.
Wall’s remains were discovered in the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea after she vanished while interviewing 47 years old Madsen aboard his homemade submarine Nautilus. Madsen is a well known figure in Denmark, an eccentric though inspiring self-taught scientist whose earlier project, a homemade rocket, brought him fame. Madsen first claimed not knowing about Wall’s disappearance, maintaining that he had dropped her on the shore after the interview. Later Wall’s dismembered body washed up on a shore near Copenhagen, and since then Madsen admitted that Wall was killed in an accident due to a malfunction of the submarine hatch. In a state of panic he cut her into pieces and dumped the pieces into the sea.
Madsen is undergoing trial for murdering Wall in Denmark, and with each passing day more grisly details are emerging. He has now been accused of sexually assaulting, torturing and murdering Wall. This month, Kim Wall would have turned 31.
Apart from Wall and Madsen, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also much in news these days. The star Swedish footballer, playing for Manchester United these days, had retired from the international stage before the World Cup Qualifiers. At that time, there was little hope for Sweden to qualify for the World Cup. But, as destiny would have it, Sweden did qualify along with its other Nordic neighbours — Denmark and Iceland. Since then the Swedish football lovers are much divided on whether Zlatan should be recalled, or rather requested to come back, to play for the national team once again. One camp considers it a blasphemy to let the national team go to Sochi, where the World Cup will be held in June, without arguably the best football player that Sweden has ever seen, while the others believe that Zlatan’s return would take the focus away from the team, one that managed to qualify without having Zlatan in the play-offs.
Zlatan seems to be relishing this renewed attention in him and is adding to the speculations. "They call me every day," he recently said when asked whether he is in contact with Swedish Football Association. Exactly who is calling and how’s the discussion shaping up is still unclear.
No harm in a little drama before the biggest sports tournament in the world starts!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Sweden on April 17 as part of Indo-Nordic Summit. The local media is touting this to be an important visit by a state head, and it follows Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s meeting with US President Donald Trump just a month back.
“He praised Sweden, he said that Sweden is doing very well, which is true from an economic point of view”, Löfven had said about his meeting with Trump. In February, Trump made headlines when he said in a speech in a rally “Look at what’s happened last night in Sweden”. Swedes were left confused for nothing particular had happened in Sweden that night.
PM Modi will aim to pitch ‘Made In India’ during this visit, and attract Swedish investment especially in aerospace. This summit will also be a good opportunity for India to reset ties with Denmark that haven’t thawed since 1995, when a Danish national was found guilty in the Purulia arms drop case.
The Indian community in Sweden is relatively small, numbering around 25000 Indians out of the population of nine million. PM Modi’s visit has generated a frenzied interest in this community, and busloads of Indian immigrants are expected to show in Stockholm up from all over Sweden to get a chance to hear PM Modi in-person. Let’s hope Stockholm is geared to handle this influx!
A version of this story appeared in The Hindu