Earlier this month, a delegation of six people from Switzerland came to Bengaluru for a week-long visit that was facilitated by Swissnex in India. The delegation representing the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Programme of the Cantons of Vaud (VD) and Zurich (ZH) met with some of India’s top companies. The delegation’s aim was to scout for the best possible opportunities for VET graduates back in Switzerland. The graduates could take this chance to gain international work experience in India for upto a year.
Talks with several Indian and Swiss companies, educational institutions, and even collectives—including Tata, Infosys, The Leela, Bühler, Geberit, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce (SICC), Log9, Artpark, Systemantics and Titan—prompted palpable excitement on both sides and we can’t wait to see how things pan out.
The general idea in Switzerland about India is one derived from the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, said Pierre Fantys, Mobility Manager at Canton VD, but “when you come here, it’s totally different”. Sure, there’s a dichotomy of two worlds—highrises versus shanties, rich versus poor, male versus female (and there’s a continuous attempt to connect these contrasts)—but Fantys believes Swiss people, especially students and young professionals, should forget all their stereotypes about India and discover it for themselves because their experience will be “mind-boggling”.
Deputy Head of Exchange and Mobility at Canton ZH Ramon Leemann said it’s “hardly imaginable” that someone at the age of 25 would be a senior research developer in Switzerland, but was pleasantly surprised to see young Indians getting ahead in life so quickly, and that’s something he’d like for Swiss students to observe and learn from.
The VET delegation also noted that when Swiss professionals think about the future of their careers, they normally think about the US, China and maybe Japan, but that they should seriously consider India as an option because, as Fantys said, “I hadn’t associated India with innovation, at least not in this massive scale, before I came here. Now I am mind-blown!” Swiss VET students who come to India will get to choose from an array of traditional industries, ranging from commercial and engineering to hospitality and chemical, but also in unconventional and modern industries such as sanitation or even set designing among other professions.
All of them were struck by the kindness, warmth and hospitality of the Indian people, while also devouring the local food, which many found irresistible. Commercial Apprentice at Medtronics Laura Imperatrice said she wishes she could carry back yellow daal because she’s never had such tasty Indian food in Switzerland. “I’m just like eating and I cannot feel my mouth because the food is so spicy, but I can’t stop myself. It’s so delicious!” She wishes she had another week here just so she could try out other Indian cuisines. Biryani was another hit with some of them!
On one of the days, while shopping for pashmina on Commercial Street, a shopkeeper told the group that his mother lives near Geneva, and immediately video-called her so she could speak with them. And speak they did, that too in French! There’s some doubt about whether the woman was actually the shopkeeper’s mother or it was just a practical joke he played to create a rapport. Either way, Imperatrice said this moment would stay with her for years to come.
Understandably, everyone was overwhelmed by the traffic situation and Jérôme Pittet, Principal at Vocational Business School Nyon, even made a joke about how he “gave his life many times in one week”. But then again, Bengaluru wasn’t meant to be a big booming city—it’s only in the last few decades that it’s become one, and sometimes it takes us longer than that to improve our infrastructure. Also cliché, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Take a sneak peek into the VET delegation’s visit to Bengaluru