Which restaurant do you find at 13,642 feet at Jungfrau, the roof of Europe in Switzerland? Not an Italian, French or Mexican but an Indian Restaurant aptly titled ‘Bollywood’. Which item is the finale at the famous “LIDO” in Champs Elysses in Paris? An Indian dance! These were some of the things that I was pleasantly surprised with my recent Europe trip.
I was told that 19 % of the bank accounts in Switzerland were held by Indians, yet when you drive through Berne, the Capital of Switzerland and the Swiss Banks, it is so non-descript that you do not realize that you are in the capital city of one of the highest per capita income countries in the world.
Yash Chopra, the famous Bollywood producer was awarded an honorary doctorate in Switzerland, his death was reported as a front page news item in the local press and there was almost a state mourning. Everyone in the small town of Interlaken where films like DDLJ were shot know Shahrukh Khan, Paddy aka Priyanka Chopra, Ash aka Aishwaya Rai Bahchan, thanks to Yash Chopra and Bollywood.
No doubt Jungfrau, the Swiss alps, the lakes and the greenery is breathtaking but so are Gulmarg, Pahelgaon, Rohtang Pass and several other locations in India. In fact, many photographs of Gulmarg, Pahelgoan & Rohtang will pass as the Swiss photographs and vice versa, so would Victoria Memorial in Calcutta.
Sadly the difference is the marketing, infrastructure and our own state of mind. Their marketing and infrastructure ensures that we spend a couple of lakhs per head to go to Switzerland rather than Rs.20000 to Gulmarg. Ironically the marketing is done by us! – the likes of Yash Chopra of Bollywood, Kollywood & Tollywood & the wealthy politicians & Industrialist stacking billions in Swiss Banks.
Dr. T. N. Swaminathan
Professor of Marketing, Director – Branding and Alumni relations