Nila Vikhe Patil
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A brief biography
Her surname is Vikhe Patil, but for one belonging to a family that pioneered the co-operative movement in Maharashtra, 33-year-old Nila’s focus isn’t sugar but Stockholm. Greatgranddaughter of the founder of Asia’s first co-operative sugar factory, Vithalrao, and granddaughter of late MP and sugar baron Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Nila has just been reappointed — after an initial two-year stint — as political advisor to the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office.
Nila Vikhe Patil is the daughter of Balasaheb’s son Ashok, who heads the family’s ‘Pravara’ chain of educational institutions in the family borough of Ahmednagar district and beyond. Born on Swedish soil to a Swedish mother, Eva-Lill, whom Ashok met on a business trip to Stockholm, Nila spent her pre-school years in Ahmednagar as part of a joint family. Her parents later separated and she moved with her mother to Sweden, but not before picking up a smattering of Marathi words and a love for Maharashtrian food. “I love pithla, bhakri, and varan bhaat (dal rice),” she told TOI, adding that she speaks to her father over the phone every day. And her heroes are Indian: her granddad, an “idealistic” man with whom she had many conversations on life and politics before he died in 2016, and the late President Abdul Kalam, “a truly striking personality” with “sharp intellect.”
She might need a bit of both in her role in Swedish PM Stefan Lofven’s office. “My primary responsibility is financial issues such as budget, taxation, banking and regulation, Constitutional issues and monetary policy,” she said. “Apart from this, I am responsible for business and enterprise and housing policy.”
While her grandfather was a long-time Congress MP with an additional stint as Sena MP and minister in the Vajpayee government, and her uncle Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil is now leader of opposition in the state assembly, Nila was elected to the city council of the Stockholm municipal corporation as a (ruling) Green Party candidate in September last year and heads a civic panel for the welfare of senior citizens.
She’s convinced that India and her family’s home state of Maharashtra are on the path to progress, given Indians’ focus on the English language and the Indian government’s policies. But, she also hopes India will “not take the short cut to development but make smart ecological choices...”