Switzerland is proud to be a part of the success story of Tamil Nadu’s maiden floating solar power plant in Coimbatore. The city of Coimbatore was one of the first in India to adopt a climate action plan through CapaCITIES, a project supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). SDC’s Assistant Director General Christian Frutiger visited Coimbatore with the goal of furthering Swiss-Indian cooperation to promote climate resilience.
“Coimbatore wants to be the pinnacle of the 75th Swiss-Indian anniversary” Coimbatore’s Municipal Commissioner Prathap enthusiastically stated while welcoming SDC’s Assistant Director General Christian Frutiger, who was leading a high-level delegation to the city in February. The remarks were met with a huge applause by the delegation comprising Deputy Head of Mission Olivier Fink, Head of Climate and Environment Section Janine Kuriger and SDC’s Heads of Cooperation Corinne and Jonathan Demenge.
Coimbatore, the second largest city of Tamil Nadu (1.4 million population), was one of the first cities in India to adopt a climate action plan through the CapaCITIES project supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Through CapaCITIES, municipalities identify and address climate related vulnerabilities, plan low carbon development and respond in a systematic manner to immediate needs of their citizens in sectors such as waste, water, energy and transport.
The city has undertaken several innovative projects to move towards a low emission development future, such as the new 140kWp floating solar project on the Periyakulam lake front. The project is being co-financed by the city of Coimbatore, the state of Tamil Nadu and SDC for a total of INR 1.10 crores (CHF 0.12 million). It will be Tamil Nadu’s first floating solar power plant.
February was a landmark month for people-to-people contacts between Switzerland and India. At an event at the Residence of Switzerland, the St. Gallen Symposium, which has strong ties to India, launched its India Chapter.
The opening Symposium’s theme was ‘A New Generational Contract.’ It captured the responsibility of the current generation to meet its own needs without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their own. A panel discussion titled ‘A Sustainable Transformation – Learning from History to Build a Sustainable Economy’ examined the role that India, as the world’s largest democracy, could play in ensuring a healthy environment for future generations without jeopardizing its long-term development goals. Close to 80 persons, including the who’s who of Indian industry, as well as the Leaders of Tomorrow, represented by a brilliant group of students, participated in the event.
The St. Gallen Symposium is one of the best known platforms for intergenerational dialogue, where leaders of today and tomorrow from all walks of life come together to exchange knowledge, perspectives and opinions on the most pressing challenges and opportunities today. Participants from India are a significant part of the attendees of the Symposium (10% of the participants in 2021; one of the main partners). Furthermore, the words largest Leaders of Tomorrow Alumni community is based in India. India has been well represented at the Symposium in the past and this will be the case this year as well. Leaders of Today participating in the Symposium include CEO’s of Indian multinational companies and public figures, including at Ministerial level.
A delegation of Swiss companies to Sikkim and Assam, led by Ambassador Heckner, successfully highlighted Swiss technological expertise in addressing the issues of climate resilience, sustainable infrastructure, and equitable healthcare.
As India and Switzerland commemorate 75 years of diplomatic relations, a business mission was organized to Sikkim and Assam in light of the Indian Act East policy, the core of which is the North Eastern region. Eight Swiss companies – Belimo, Cotecna, Ferring, Geobrugg, Huber+Suhner, Schmiedewerke Stooss, SwissRe and Ypsomed – participated in the mission which was planned by the Swiss Embassy, the Swiss Business Hub India and the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency.
During the mission, awareness about the business opportunities in the region was raised, and Swiss companies’ strong competencies in providing technology and solutions to the most pressing concerns, such as climate resilience, sustainable infrastructure, and equitable healthcare, were highlighted. In Gangtok and Guwahati, high level engagements with the Chief Minister of Sikkim Shri Tamang, the Chief Secretary of Sikkim Shri Pathak, and the Chief Secretary of Assam Shri Borthakur were held. During a brief stay in Kolkata, the delegation was hosted by the Swiss Honorary Consul, Mr. Chowdhary, who also organized an engagement with the Chairperson West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) Smt Yadav. Additionally, the Swiss delegates had discussions with the heads of respective State Government departments, such as Commerce & Industries, Disaster Management, Skill Development, IT & Telecom, Railways, Health & Family Welfare, Agriculture, Highways & Infra, Mines & Geology, PWD, Revenue, and Finance.
Building on Swiss-Indian ties in architecture, renowned Swiss architect Manuel Scholl showcases his work in India.
Swiss architect Manuel Scholl presented three of his projects at the intersection of architecture and urban planning at the InCITE gallery. These included his ongoing projects, such as the Esslingen town centre, the cover of the highway connecting Zurich and Schwamendingen, as well as the Adidas World of Sport, completed in 2014. Manuel Scholl has a long-standing connection with India. He studied a semester at CEPT Ahmedabad in the 80s as an exchange
During his talk at the InCITE gallery, the Swiss architect discussed aspects of the Schwamendingen project, such as the idea of reducing noise pollution and hosting a green park on the roof of the highway. Many innovative sustainability-related initiatives will be part of the highway cover such as the creation of the biggest bee hotel in Europe that will be hosted in the park on the rooftop of the highway cover. The project exemplifies how nature, the city and citizens’ well-being can be integrated by building onto existing infrastructure instead of breaking down or expanding into previously unaffected areas. Later, participants engaged in conversations over dinner about the the future of urban architecture in India. Swiss-Indian conversations about architecture continue.
A Swiss pavilion at the PlastIndia Exhibition is a tradition. It is indeed the oldest fair in India visited by Swiss businesses.
The establishment of a Swiss pavilion at the PlastIndia Exhibition by Switzerland Global Enterprise and the Swiss Business Hub India is a tradition. It is the oldest fair in India visited by Swiss businesses. This pavilion has been successfully organised for several pervious editions of the exhibition illustrating that the Swiss plastic technology and engineering companies have much to gain by being present in India. Ten companies were part of the Swiss Pavilion at PlastIndia 2023: AISA Automation Industrielle SA, Burckhardt, Buss AG, Maillefer SA, Netstal Maschinen AG, New Celio Engineering SA, Polytype SA, Sulzer Chemtech, Ultra System SA and SWISSMEM.
In order to interact with the Swiss exhibitors, the Swiss Business Hub India successfully organised a business networking event at the Swiss Embassy. More than 85 people from the plastics industry as well as representatives of Swiss companies were welcomed by the Deputy Head of Mission, Dr. Olivier Fink. The Swiss exhibitors introduced their respective businesses and technologies, with a special focus on sustainability, followed by one-to-one discussions with interested stakeholders.
Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), visited India in March 2023. The objective of his visit was to learn, first-hand, the country’s perspectives on trends and developments in geopolitics, geoeconomics and the new technology space.
The most remarkable outcome of his visit was Switzerland’s maiden participation at the Raisina dialogue, where he shared thoughts on the need for an international framework on AI communication. This was not all! He also participated at a well-attended panel ‘India – An Influencing Power in the New World Order?’ at the Residence of Switzerland on March 06. Later, the vibrant GCSP alumni community in New Delhi came together for interesting conversations at a reception organized at the sprawling lawns of the Swiss Embassy.
The GCSP offers dialogue, discussions, research and courses about security policy. Its target audience are security policy professionals who are already taking up responsibility in the field of security policy. The GCSP offers courses in Geneva and in various regions of the world it organizes and directs courses and guides them with expertise. It receives financial support from the Swiss government.
At the annual Francophonie Mela, Swiss pencil artist Martin Vernier inspired hundreds of enthusiastic visitors. Over 2000 postcards with his art works dedicated to Indian scenes were offered. He also conducted a workshop in the famous Lodhi Garden and at the prestigious National Gallery of Modern Art attended by 50 talented students.
On 11 March 2023 at the annual Francophonie Mela held at Alliance Française in Delhi, the stand of the Embassy of Switzerland featured Swiss illustrator, independent archaeologist and researcher, Martin Vernier. He conducted a pencil art workshop and encouraged visitors to come up with drawings themselves. Over 2000 postcards with his art works dedicated to various Indian scenes were distributed at the event. Later a jam session happened in the famous Lodhi Garden. On 12 March 2023 Martin Vernier also conducted a pencil art workshop at the prestigious National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. The initiative was attended by around 50 talented students, amateurs and professionals from India.
On the source of his art, Martin Vernier says: “I had the great fortune to discover very early – and surrounded by extraordinary people – the Himalayan regions of northern India; then to go there many times and finally to live and work there to discover with the same passion other Himalayan regions and then the Indian sub-continent and Asia beyond.”
« L’amitié peut supporter tous les aléas de la vie »… Friendship can survive all the ups and downs of life. The words of the Swiss duo Laurent Brunetti and Mario Pacchioli’s composition on friendship matched the context – 75 years of Swiss-Indian friendship. The duo primarily performed French compositions, but not only. Their “Swiss songs” medley, which included several popular Swiss songs in four Swiss national languages, had the audience clapping and swaying. Their yodeling instantly connected with the audience, most reminiscing Kishore Kumar’s iconic yodeling in Hindi popular cinema.
Laurent Brunetti and Mario Pacchioli also conducted an exclusive masterclass in Mumbai for Indian musicians and students. A musical confluence of this sort took place in the offline format after a long pause and put the spotlight back on the successful and long standing Swiss-Indian cultural collaboration thus far, with a promise to continue this cultural success story through potential Swiss-Indian musical collaborations and synergies.
As a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Switzerland been a consistent significant promoter and supporter of the French language. Over the years, Switzerland has contributed greatly to the French language celebrations in India by presenting the Swiss talents from the French-speaking part of Switzerland to French language enthusiasts and academia in India. By taking part in the annual Francophonie celebrations, not only is the multilingual character of Switzerland highlighted but also a parallel with the multilingual character of India is drawn to bring the countries culturally even closer.
“Diary of India”: AS Architecture Suisse publishes a special edition documenting Swiss-Indian architectural ties.
Architectural links between Switzerland and India are not limited to Chandigarh. Well-known Swiss magazine AS Architecture Suisse has published a special edition entitled “Diary of India”, which invites to discover all the architectural successes that unite Switzerland and India. The tri-lingual periodical (German, French and English) bears witness to the rich cross-cultural architectural ties between Switzerland and India, from New Delhi to Rishikesh, via Koperagon, Surat, Mumbai and many other places. In his forward, Ambassador of Switzerland to India Dr. Ralf Heckner wrote that “architecture can serve as an illustrative visualization of people-to-people relations”. An auspicious way to celebrate 75 years of Swiss-Indian friendship.
This edition number 226 was supported by the Embassy of Switzerland. Copies of the magazine were officially sent to selected Indian schools and universities like Anant National University (Ahmedabad), School of Planning and Architecture (New Delhi), CEPT University (Ahmedabad), Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi) and Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Bangalore). The precious booklet was very well received and is now part of their libraries.
Ten Indian photographers captured the essence of the work of Swiss Cooperation in India in a photo exhibition at the Museo Camera Center in Gurugram encouraging reflection on sustainable lifestyles.
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supports eight different initiatives in India in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Guided by project partners, artistic creativity and keen curiosity, ten Indian photographers – Kunga Tashi Lepcha, Meziwang Zeliang,Kenilo Kessen, Palani Kumar, Parikshit Rao, Payal Kakkar, Ranita Roy, Sonam Dorjee, Sundeep Bali and Taha Ahmed – captured the essence of SDC’s work on climate change and its impact on local communities in an inspiring photo exhibition. The bamboo scaffolding and the pictures invited the public to imagine and create its own “oasis”.
The photographic reflection organized by the Embassy of Switzerland and the Museo Camera Center for the Photographic Arts raised awareness on climate-friendly and sustainable lifestyles. Initially displayed at the India Habitat Center and the UN House in New Delhi, the exhibition was inaugurated in Gurugram on 16 March 2023 by the Museum Director, Dr. Aditya Arya, and the Swiss Ambassador, Dr. Ralf Heckner. “Search for an Oasis” was visited by up to 600 persons daily. Due to the popularity of the exhibition, it was extended to 16 April 2023.
Many a successful Indian movies had a Swiss dimension to it. The Embassy of Switzerland celebrated this aspect of its bilateral ties with India by hosting a reception for a Swiss-Indian movie premiere.
“Bollywood has taken Switzerland to every nook and corner of India” stated once the former president of India Ram Nath Kovind. Films have indeed played an important role in strengthening Swiss-Indian ties. It is through iconic Hindi films with picturesque dance scenes in the Swiss Alps that the country found its place in the hearts of the Indian audience.
Taking this successful connection a step further, Swiss-Indian director and producer Kamal Musale presents “Mother Teresa & Me”. The story is not only a biopic of Mother Teresa, the person, but also a multi-layered narrative with a contemporary thread about Kavita, a young British violinist who finds herself back in her native Kolkata and is about to make a discovery about her life which will change her forever. The film features Deepti Naval, Banita Sandhu and Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz – a splendid artistic combination.
On April 19, 2023, the Embassy of Switzerland in New Delhi hosted a reception following a special screening of the film. The guest of honor, Swiss National Councilor Doris Fiala, President of Pro Cinema, addressed the audience and read a letter from Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis wishing the film success in India.
Presenting themes of global importance, the Swiss Global Science Film Festival went international with screenings of animated and documentary films, followed by simultaneous panel discussions in India, Switzerland, China and Japan.
What does the inside of a glacier look like, and what threats that their melting due to global warming do pose to our lives and livelihood? The answers were found at the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi, the Swiss Consulate General in Mumbai and in Swissnex in India, in Bangalore, during the screening of one of the films Expedition Deep into the Glacier within the framework of the 5th Global Science Film Festival. A panel discussion entitled Making science accessible to the broad public followed, where the panellists reflected on the problems faced by communication professionals in presenting science issues relevant to society. As one panellist said, journalists and scientists have to work together and that journalists have to refrain from doing armchair journalism. It continues work that the Embassy has done in organising a film hackathon in the past. Close to 160 people, including climate researchers, filmmakers, science communicators and students, attended the screenings in the three cities.
The Global Science Film Festival is organised by the Swiss Science Film Academy, founded by Swiss scientists and filmmakers, with one passion “science communication through film”. The Academy tied up with the Swissnex network in Asia to take the 2023 edition of the Global Science Film Festival international and in addition to the three cities mentioned above the screenings took place simultaneously in Basel, Osaka and Shanghai as well.
The Festival had an Indian flavour. Three films with Indian perspectives were screened. All that Breathes tells the story of two brothers who care for thousands of black kites that drop daily from New Delhi’s skies. The Seeds of Vandana Shiva tells the remarkable life story of Gandhian eco-activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. Happy Pills is a journey through six different countries, including India, and characters into a world where chemistry, and ‘prescribed’ happiness, is the ultimate response to human pursuits of well-being.
A unique group of people came together at Swissnex in India in Bengaluru to conclude a four months long series of studios looking at digital self-determination through the lens of disability and chart a path ahead for digital spaces to be more inclusive and accessible.
Digital Self-Determination (DSD) is one of Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ Directorate of International Law mandated Swissnex in India to carry out a series of studios aimed at operationalizing elements related to DSD, in collaboration with the International Network on Digital Self-Determination (IDSD) and the Embassy of Switzerland. Digital self-determination offers a unique way of understanding where we (can) live in the digital space – how we manage our social media environments, our interaction with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies, how we access and operate our personal data, and the ways in which we can have a say about mass data sharing.
Together with technology and inclusion focused non-profit Point of View and Design Beku, a community focused design studio, four studios have been organized between February and May 2023 focused on digital self-determination through the lens of disability. The studios brought together disabled individuals, researchers, techies, policy makers, designers and representatives from some of the largest online platforms in the world such as Wikipedia and Facebook. Through the studios, participants shared their lived experiences of being online, pinpointed accessibility pain points, imagined dream machines to address them, and mapped policy gaps – all in the context of disability.
The closing event summarized key insights from the studios in a hybrid panel discussion featuring Nidhi Goyal of Rising Flame, Pranav Savla, a visually impaired high school student and techie, Prateek Madhav, AssisTech Foundation and Stefaan Verhulst of the New York University GovLab. Padmini Ray Murray of Design Beku Moderated the discussion. Insights from the studios will also be shared with the C20, one of the official engagement groups of India’s G20 presidency focusing on civil society, where Nidhi Goyal is a steering committee member. Furthermore, the insights from the studios will be presented at RightsCon in Costa Rica in and at an IDSD workshop in Italy in June 2023. Lastly, the studios will kickstart the production of an accessibility curriculum for technology companies.
How did we get here? How can we avoid being the ones who failed to react to the current crises? Have these questions ever bothered you when you look at the current state of world affairs and the wars that nations continue to wage against one another even in this day and age? After all, 77 years ago, “united” nations, cemented by trust and the will to rebuild, said: “Never again!” On May 03, Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis asked these questions about war and its consequences at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as he presided over an open debate on building sustainable peace. Numerous ongoing conflicts have exposed the shortcomings of the current multilateral system. However, as Federal Councillor Cassis pointed out: “the multilateral system may be stressed, but has not failed. The real failure would be to do nothing!”
Switzerland and India have both been the voices of peace, and continue their positive contributions towards building a robust multilateral system.
On the occasion of Switzerland’s presidency of the UNSC in May, Dr. Ralf Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland to India, and Mr. Prakash Gupta, Joint Secretary (UNP and Summits), Indian Ministry of External Affairs, came together to address the envoys of E10 countries (non-permanent members of the UNSC), and underlined the evident convergences in Swiss and Indian foreign policy priorities, both of which aim to promote peace. They both made a case for Switzerland and India to collaborate in the multilateral framework, to strengthen it, and to promote peace. There could be no better way to commemorate Swiss-Indian “unalterable friendship” and “perpetual peace” than to join forces for global good.
Switzerland held the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in May 2023. Its UNSC membership in 2023 – 2024 is in continuity with its commitment to global peace and security. Click here to learn more about Switzerland’s UNSC membership.
Winspiration presented a day of dialogue between Switzerland and India focusing on gender equality. The event concentrated on sharing best practices and empowering women leaders through workshops, panel dialogues, and networking.
Both Switzerland and India have a long way to go in ensuring equal representation of women in leadership roles, despite the legal and regulatory changes mandated by both countries. Swissnex aimed at deepening the conversation by addressing three focal points: understanding unconscious bias, promoting more role models at the workplace, and addressing the fundamental hormonal challenges women face in their careers.
The morning session focused on fostering gender equality in the workplace, encompassing introspective exercises and exploring external factors that contribute to diversity. SwissRe, represented by Priyadarshi Bhattacharya, shared valuable insights into the organizational steps taken to promote gender equality. Miyara, represented by Dr. Sanjana Rao, shed light on the specific challenges faced by older women in the workplace and Dr. Elisa Streuli from ZHAW emphasized the significant role of culture and experience in fostering diversity.
The afternoon session, held in a hybrid format with remote participation from Switzerland, took the audience on a journey to understand the hormonal changes at every stage of a woman’s life and understanding how those changes can affect their productivity. Geraldine Ludi of Josei highlighted the importance of empowering women with knowledge about reproductive health and fostering open discussions to ensure productivity in daily life and the workplace. The day concluded with a conversation about managing career ambitions during menopause.
The event encompassed an enriching workshop, engaging panel discussions and ample networking. The industry stalwarts provided actionable insights and the startups offered valuable perspectives on how existing technological advancements can address menopause-related challenges. The audience, a mix of men and women from various backgrounds, fostered an exchange of information and experience further enhancing the event’s depth.
Swiss innovators took the stage at IGIC to demonstrate that when Indian and Swiss collaborate, it leads to groundbreaking technological advancements and strengthened R&D pipelines.
Innovation and investment are key priorities for Switzerland in India. Swissnex in India, in collaboration with the Swiss Business Hub, leveraged IGIC as a platform to emphasize the shared commitment between Switzerland and India to investment and innovation, solidifying the bond between our nations and driving mutual growth.
Switzerland was represented in 14 sessions during the two-day event, featuring among others:
Kunal Shrivastava, co-founder of the drone startup SUIND, which develops computer vision AI for near-earth drones to detect and prevent crop loss. He showcased how Switzerland’s expertise is crucial in the development of the technology platform, while India’s drone rules, which are more advanced than anywhere in Europe, are crucial for developing a solution for global markets.
Ishan Sahgal, co-founder of Anavia, emphasized that the manufacturing capacity in India, along with cutting-edge technology from Switzerland, could create a new global product offering. He discussed the steps that Anavia was taking in this direction.
Denis Tudor, co-founder of Hyperloop, discussed how different technologies could come together to co-create a future mobility solution. A future where drones can pick up a parcel onsite and seamlessly leave it at the nearest hyperloop station within minutes, leveraging the expertise of both drone manufacturers and hyperloop developers to ensure efficient last-mile delivery.
Prashant Gokhale, MD of Buhler, started by providing a historical context for the establishment of Buhler and its transformation into an R&D center, now producing novel products for the globe. Using millets as an example, he mentioned how Indian know-how of millets and Swiss precision engineering could be exploited to develop new offerings, especially considering that the UN has designated 2023 as the “Year of the Millet,” leading to increased worldwide demand.
Swiss initiatives in Ladakh and productive interactions with the government officials contribute to the vision of “Carbon Neutral Ladakh”.
Switzerland faces increasing risks posed by the climate change. But the good news is, innovative solutions are being consistently developed for the mountainous country which are also disseminated in similar other geographies. Ladakh being a fragile region, the Swiss-Indian collaboration is promoting solutions for the carbon neutral and resilient ecosystem.
The Swiss Development Cooperation projects in Ladakh are focused on promotion of Passive solar Heated (PSH) and energy efficient buildings, demonstration of heat pump technology in public buildings e.g. hospital. The success of these interventions possess high replicability in other establishments such as schools, hotels, farmsteads, etc. The BEEP-RE project is preparing to demonstrate the heat pump technology integrated with geo-thermal and solar systems in the public health facilities. A new idea of spring shed management is also being proposed for the conservation of water resources in the region.
The Ambassador of Switzerland, Dr Ralf Heckner, visited the high altitude and cold region of Ladakh and interacted with high level government officials and other prominent personalities. In various meetings, the Ambassador emphasized that both Switzerland and Ladakh share challenges posed by the geography, weather, and terrain, the work in Ladakh will not only benefit the region, but also be an opportunity for learning and taking back the successful solutions to Switzerland.
In the recent years, Ladakh sees a rapid expansion of the buildings construction and energy infrastructure. As the temperature reaches as low as -30oC in winters, the space heating and energy efficient measures in buildings (such as roof and wall insulation, double glazed windows for heat gains and daylight, etc) is a predominant requirement. Earlier, the Swiss technical support has played an instrumental role in developing the India’s first Energy Efficiency Code for the Residential Buildings.
The people-to-people contacts between Switzerland and India continued with the World Trade Institute (WTI), University of Bern, launching the India Chapter of its Alumni Association at an event at the Residence of Switzerland.
The World Trade Institute Alumni Association launched its India Chapter at an event at the Residence of Switzerland. With 58 alumni, India accounts for almost 10% of the WTI’s 600 plus alumni and students from across 100 countries, making it the largest number from any single country. These alumni occupy important posts, across India and the world. The launch of the India Chapter in New Delhi follows the establishment of such chapters in Geneva and Brussels. In fact, there was an Indian participant in the very first Master of Advanced Studies in International Law and Economics (MILE), the flagship programme of the World Trade Institute, in 1999.
During the event, the Embassy organized a trade talk, wherein Prof Dr. Peter L. H. Van den Bossche, Director of Studies, WTI, and Dr. Pritam Banerjee, Professor and Head, Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), presented their insights and participated in a panel discussion about the causes and responses to the challenges faced by the multilateral trading system. The spirited exchanges that followed with the participants highlighted the importance of having such dialogues, which bring together diverse viewpoints.
The event took place within the framework of the 9th Joint Academy on International Trade Law and Policy, organised by the World Trade Institute and the Centre for WTO Studies at IIFT. The Academy, established in 2014, aims to provide law students and legal professionals in India with an opportunity to increase their knowledge of trade regulation and governance issues.
It is one of those reunions that crystallize the quality of the relationship between two friendly countries. Prof. Thomas Cottier, former Managing Director of the World Trade Institute (WTI) at the University of Bern, and Mr. B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog and former Commerce Secretary of India, led a conversation on international trade, attended by high-level representatives of diplomatic missions. Beyond the very topical subject, it was also a student meeting again with his professor: Mr. Subrahmanyam obtained his degree in international law and economics at the WTI. The two of them had a lot to talk about.
Since the dawn of time, trade has brought people closer together, enhancing innovation and furthering prosperity. What is happening between India and Switzerland on that front? Switzerland, mainly within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), has concluded 33 free-trade agreements (FTAs) with 43 partners. In the past, India has signed 13 FTAs and after a long break, it has been proactively engaging with a growing number of countries and regional blocs in order to conclude FTAs, such as Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and the EFTA!
As the exchange showed, the new FTAs that are currently being negotiated around the world reflect the changing nature of international economic relations, and new topics such as environmental and labor standards or gender are now on the table. Governments and businesses have learnt that trade deals must go beyond tariffs reduction, and tackle trade in services, investments, intellectual property and above all, non-tariff measures. The tête-à-tête went beyond a Swiss and Indian experts reuniting to discuss international trade. It was also about how two countries can shape together the global conversation about the future of WTO and FTAs.
Well-functioning infrastructure is a fundamental pre-requisite for a prosperous economy. India attaches great importance to sustainable infrastructure development. In Rishikesh, best practices from Switzerland and around the world have been showcased during the third G20 Infrastructure Working Group (IWG).
The G20 Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) deals with sustainable infrastructure development and financing. Under the 2023 Indian G20 Presidency, Switzerland presented its expertise in this high-level setting. The Swiss Business Hub India (SBHI) took care of the local representation in close coordination with the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). As one of SECO’s six infrastructure priority countries, India can benefit from Swiss know-how in large infrastructure projects.
The third IWG in Rishikesh successfully showcased international best practices. Switzerland called for closer cooperation with multilateral development banks, which often financially support infrastructure projects. Switzerland also brought in its expertise in public-private-partnerships. Export Credit Agencies (ECA) play a central role in financing or insuring such initiatives. With ECA coverage, risk allocation and thus cost reduction are possible. With its Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV), Switzerland is well positioned in this regard.
The G20 is an association of 19 States and the European Union. It exists since 1999. It serves primarily as a forum on challenges of the international economic and financial system, but also on global issues such as climate policy or infrastructure development. Switzerland regularly participates in the G20 Finance Track, to which IWG belongs, upon invitation from the G20 rotating presidency. This year, in extending an invitation to Switzerland, the Indian presidency graciously honoured this tradition.
The adoption of Swiss supported Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) in India paves the way for massive decarbonisation of the cement sector.
It is official: standards for Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) have been published in the Official Gazette of India on the 16th of June 2023. The publication of the standards consecrates more than 10 years of collaboration between Swiss and Indian universities and organisations supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It marks the beginning of a revolution for the cement sector, opening the door to mass production and commercialisation of low carbon cement LC3, and through it to massive decarbonisation of the cement and construction sectors in India and worldwide.
Cement is the most used man-made material on the planet. Its production is responsible for 7-8% of CO2 emissions globally. It is therefore a major driver of climate change. For 10 years (2013–2022), the SDC has supported the low carbon cement project. Swiss scientists from the Polytechnic Federal School of Lausanne (EPFL) along with Indian scientists from IIT Delhi, IIT Madras and Technology & Action for Rural Advancement (TARA), as well as Cuban scientists (Universidad de las Villas), have developed a climate-friendly alternative to conventional cement to reduce CO2 emissions during production by up to 40%. The result, LC3, is a cement that is less carbon intensive; resource efficient (low grade limestone and clays are used); energy efficient (clay is calcined at 700oC instead of 1400oC); cost effective (25% less of costs in production); and that offers similar to superior properties compared to conventional cement.
To enable a meaningful impact, in this case a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, a conducive regulatory framework and large uptake by the private sector (cement manufacturers and the Cement Manufacturers Association) are necessary. This is now made possible by the adoption and publication of LC3 standards in India, the second largest global producer and consumer of cement in the world. India is therefore joining the club of countries in which LC3 is already produced, along with Argentina, Columbia, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Cuba and China. Cement companies such as Holcim announced at COP27 that their largest cement plant, situated in Egypt, will start the production of LC3.
Together, an estimated 100 million CHF have been invested by the industry for LC3 research and production, and around 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions have already been avoided. This is only the beginning. With an annual target of 400 tonnes of CO2 avoided annually globally, LC3 is likely to be the largest single technology contribution to climate change mitigation. This achievement will also be an asset for India’s climate commitments under the Paris agreement. With its high CO2 abatement potential, LC3 thus directly contributes to Switzerland’s overall goal of promoting sustainable development by mitigating climate change.
On July 18th, the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce’s (SICC) and the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi joined forces to offer SICC members some valuable insights on imminent trends in the human resources management sector, as well as possible ways to adapt. Together, Swiss company Adecco representatives, a panel of four Indian industry leaders and the invited guests collectively embarked on a reflexive journey with one underlying concern in mind: how to build a workforce for the future?
Today, work is facing unprecedented change. Digitization and AI are revolutionizing labor environments, challenging us to rethink the way we work. The demand for greater flexibility, diversity and inclusivity at the workplace is high, and new management models are emerging in consequence. In order to stay competitive, and to adapt to these inevitable evolutions, it is crucial for businesses to rethink how they hire and train their workforce, and to encourage continuous skill development.
“Building a Workforce for the Future” was meant to inspire businesses to rethink their position in a fast-moving work ecosystem. After a welcome address by Ambassador Heckner, representatives from the Swiss global company Adecco Ajay Sethi (CEO, Adecco India) and Bettina Schaller (Head Group of Public Affairs, The Adecco Group) shared an overview on both the ongoing shifts in the labor market’s global architecture and the current activities of Adecco in India.
To these interventions followed a panel discussion moderated by Cauvery Uthappa (Adecco India). Ms. Chahal, CEO of a women-only social platform named Sheroes, offered an insight into the hindrances faced by her team when promoting a women-only supportive ecosystem, and advocated for more creativity in the workforce. Ms. Mankad, from handcrafted products retailer Fabindia, explained in what manner promoting women empowerment and mentorship had gradually become integral to her company’s business model, thereby encouraging and sustaining rural employment in India. Ms. Bhateja shared about her personal journey at Migros India, and how Switzerland’s largest retailer has provided a stimulating and empowering professional environment throughout her career, with many initiatives taken to keep her and her colleagues up to date with current sustainability challenges. Ms. Tandan, from the packaging solutions enterprise SIG Combibloc India, talked about how digital transformation had been thoroughly embraced by her organization, and elaborated on the concrete measures taken by the Swiss business to prepare its employees for these technological advancements.
Switzerland may well not be a member of the G20, it is a regular and active participant to its Finance Track, as showed the latest Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting held on 17 and 18 July 2023 in Gandhinagar. The Indian Presidency extended an invitation to Switzerland, acknowledging Swiss expertise in financial matters.
The focus of the discussions in the G20 Finance Track was on coordinated steps to stabilise the global economy, structural measures to promote growth and reform proposals for the international financial system. The objective remains to detect crises more effectively at an earlier stage and to prevent the development of global imbalances. At the same time, the international financial, economic and monetary system requires to be made more stable.
For the 8th time in a row, Switzerland was invited – this time under India’s Presidency – as a guest country to the Financial Track. The Swiss delegation was composed by the State Secretariat for international financial matters (SIF) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB).
Reaching agreement on a joint outcome document never is an easy task, tackling such topics as the fragile global economic situation, the rising debt burden, and efforts to adapt international organisations to address global challenges such as climate change and pandemics. The G20 Outcome Document and Chair’s Summary is now available.
Swiss Author Rolf Hermann gave a reading of his book “Ephemeral Home” in front of 250 German language teachers from North India. In a more intimate setting with 25-30 German teachers, Hermann held a writing workshop.
Swiss author Rolf Hermann addressed 250 German language teachers from Northern India in German reading from his book “Flüchtiges Zuhause – Ephemeral Home” at the Deutschlehrer:innentagung (DTL) in New Delhi. The Valais native narrated about his past as a shepherd high in the Swiss mountains with his polyglot Belgian border collie. His fictional childhood memories contained scenes of river flooding, forest fires, exchanges with family members, the flow of time and a pinch of melancholy as the seasons change and society with it. Despite the fact that the author is regularly giving workshops and readings in English, the audience being German teachers, the entire interaction was entirely in German.
Later on, Rolf Hermann hosted a writing workshop with around 25 participants. Here Hermann prompted the participants to come up with their own texts in German. The first task was to write a short essay based on the introductory sentence “Im herben Geruch eines Nadelbaums”. Then, all participants wrote a text on an ink drawing. In the end, Rolf Hermann gave a poetry-form as a template and asked to compose a poem based on the given structure. It was remarkable to see people whose first language is not German to come up with sophisticated prose and poetry form during the workshop.
he conference was organized by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and the Indo-German Teachers Association and had a rich program. The Embassy of Switzerland has been participating and contributing to these German teachers’ conferences since 2009 and has also in the past been able to send participants and speakers.
Ambassador Dr. Ralf Heckner shared the accomplishments of 75 years of Swiss-Indian friendship and examined the potential the future holds for this relationship with 300 million 92.7 Big FM listeners.
Switzerland and India marked 75 years of friendship on 14th August 2023. On this occasion, Ambassador Dr. Ralf Heckner went on air on radio 92.7 Big FM and shared the accomplishments of seven and a half decades of friendship and even more importantly examined the potential the future holds for this relationship. The number of Big FM listeners is estimated at 300 million.
During the informal conversation with India’s leading radio jockey Khurafaati Nitin, broadcasted from 58 radio stations across the country, Ambassador Heckner talked about Swiss-Indian partnership that has covered areas ranging from vocational training, milk production and manufacturing to collaborations in health, climate and information technology. The future of this relationship, he said, will be defined by working in the area of sustainable future, healthcare and cooperation in technology for global good. Ambassador Heckner concluded the conversation by sharing with the listeners that for him the song ‘Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge’ (We will never break this friendship – Watch the interview) best captures the Swiss-Indian friendship.
Friendship between the two countries is based on mutual respect, common interests and shared values. Swiss-Indian relationship is one of the few examples of such time-tested friendships. Seven and half decades of this unalterable bond are nothing short of a “tryst with destiny” moment for the two countries.
An exultant celebration of creativity, innovation, and the irresistible allure of the short format! Critically acclaimed short films from Switzerland have been presented in the fifth edition of The International Shorts Collective in Pune.
Films have a universal appeal and bring people and cultures together across borders and languages. Building further on this forte, the International Short Collective 2023, jointly organized by Consulate General of Switzerland in Mumbai, Goethe Institute Pune, Alliance Française de Pune, Arbhaat Film Club and supported by the Pune Film Foundation, presented contemporary short films from Europe and India over a two-day festival.
The Swiss, German, French and Indian collections explored a range of thought-provoking themes and offered glimpses into the human existence through artistic storytelling. Selected from entries to the Locarno Film Festival, the National Film Awards of India and other prominent international film festivals, the short films in this curated package explored the subtleties of human character and indifference in an ever-changing world.
Through compelling narratives and evocative imagery, the 6 Swiss short films in the Swiss national languages German, French and Italian, triggered questions, emotions and introspection, leaving lasting impressions that captured the essence of life in all its vulnerability:
• Fairplay by Zoel Aeschbacher
• Es Muss by Flavio Luca Marano & Jumana Issa
• Chute by Nora Longatti
• Cavales by Juliette Riccaboni
• Rondinella by Nikita Merlini
• Über Wasser by Jela Hasler
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Mumbai, in collaboration with the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, hosted a workshop on business-related human rights challenges and strategic approaches to addressing them.
The workshop focused on how Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) in the supply chain can be implemented effectively in the changing legal landscape across the world, especially in India, and how stakeholders can be engaged during the development of governance mechanisms. Global Business Initiative (GBI) on Human Rights offered an overview of global legal developments, their implications for business practitioners in India and facilitated a discussion on engaging with suppliers to conduct HRDD, including challenges and best practices. The session explored going beyond auditing practices in the context of HRDD, as well as delving deeper in the supply chain by the corporate leadership. Participants also discussed effective approaches to address challenges, innovate, build internal know-how and learn from peers.
An insightful panel discussion with Aditi Wanchoo, Senior Manager of Human Rights, Novartis and Shubha Sekhar, Regional Director Human and Workplace Rights, Eurasia and North Africa, The Coca Cola Company, emphasized the increasing importance for companies to implement policies and processes to manage human rights issues effectively to meet their responsibilities under key standards and stakeholder expectations to achieve sustainable development. A case study analysis concluded with the takeaways that business practitioners must identify priorities and build robust approaches to identifying and managing human rights issues beyond social audits.
Around 35 Swiss and Indian corporates participated in the interactive workshop and exchanged views as well as valuable practical experiences. Sophia Areias, Director, The Global Business Initiative on Human Rights and Rishi Sher Singh, GBI Advisor to South Asia spearheaded the workshop.
Switzerland-based artist and poet, Małgorzata Stankiewicz, participated in the sā Ladakh Festival in Leh – South Asia’s highest ever contemporary land art group exhibition.
The Embassy of Switzerland in India supported South Asia’s highest ever contemporary land art group exhibition at a record altitude of 3,600 meters, focusing on the theme of mountains, environment, culture and community. Switzerland-based Małgorzata Stankiewicz’s read her poetry and prose in the scenic conference room of a royal minister’s house, which had been converted into Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO).
Afterwards, the Embassy invited the present guests to a reception with a view over Leh and Leh Palace. Małgorzata Stankiewicz conducted the workshop `An uncanny language – the land and its many voices` with students of the Ladakh Public School. She also contributed an installation which offered an ephemeral entryway to an alternative way of listening, with a QR-Code, exposed to the four elements to wither away. The Swiss Cultural Attaché, Simon Schaeffer, also visited a local school and interacted with the principal and the students who had visited the sā Ladakh festival. They had engaged vividly with the theme of ecology.
Due to its mountainous topography, both Switzerland and Leh have similar challenges when it comes to ecological considerations. sā Ladakh intended to inspire artistic reflections on the topic of environment in relation to the community that inhabits it. Where to do this better than in Ladakh, where climate change effects are visible and accelerated? Also, the inhabitants of Leh benefit from a tourism influx which at the same time puts a strain on the fragile ecosystem. The different art installations all had as a goal to put up a mirror and have the visitors reflect on their interaction patterns with nature. During the length of the festival, a range of artists engaged with sā Ladakh to present their work in the form of literature, sculptures, filmmaking, textiles amongst others.
Małgorzata Stankiewicz is on residency in Leh, Ladakh, supported by Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
The Embassy of Switzerland and Ryan International School undertook a campaign with a plantation drive to raise awareness about environmental protection and a more sustainable future.
An awareness campaign was launched at the Embassy of Switzerland with 50 students of Ryan International School, Mayur Vihar branch. The goal was to foster the principles of ecosystem protection, notably the crucial role trees play in conserving biodiversity and combating climate change.
A workshop on sustainability was conducted to reflect on daily activities and their impact on resources. It stimulated students’ reflection on causes and solutions to reduce the carbon footprint. Inspired students showed enthusiasm about taking actions dedicated to several environmental causes. Some valuable ideas were expressed on water conservation, waste management and development of eco-friendly products.
The highlight of the day was the plantation drive. Students along with volunteers from the Embassy planted several saplings within the Swiss Embassy’s compound. The promise of blossom holds a symbolic significance. Students are invited to observe the progress of their plantation on 14 October, as part of the forthcoming “SwitzerlandIndia In Bloom” event.
Sulagna Sengupta, a Jungian scholar and cultural historian, unraveled Carl Jung’s world at Swissnex in India’s community space, where she launched her second book, ‘Animus, Psyche and Culture: A Jungian Revision’.
Indian author Sulagna Sengupta has spent many decades on studying the life and work of Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. ‘Animus, Psyche and Culture: A Jungian Revision’, her second book, is the culmination of the last 20 years of her research, which she launched at Swissnex in India’s community space.
Sengupta gave a 45-minute lecture which highlighted Carl Jung’s psychological interests in India and deliberated on his pioneering notion of the ‘animus’, the significance of culture, gender and feminine subjectivity in the unfolding of the animus. She explained Jung’s time in India (1937-38) when he travelled to different parts of the country, lecturing and meeting philosophers and spiritual seekers from various schools of thought.
‘Animus, Psyche and Culture: A Jungian Revision’ provides an insight into the inner masculine in the feminine psyche. It demonstrates the lived experience of the feminine in culture and the concept of synchronicity, and the phenomena of the ‘animus’ in the collective unconscious among other things. Equally importantly, Sengupta said she positions some Jungian concepts in today’s world, by even adapting them to the present reality of gender fluidity.
The lecture by Sengupta was followed by a lively Q&A session with the audience which was a mix of avid readers and Jungian enthusiasts from various walks of life. The audience further interacted with Sengupta informally during dinner.
They say a master yearns for a discerning disciple just as deeply as a student longs for a selfless guru. And in Sengupta, Jung has found one posthumously.
Together with the Indian Navy Band in Mumbai and the Indian Army Band in Delhi, the Swiss Armed Forces Brass Band put a musical exclamation mark! Musically at the highest level, the Brass Band performed for the unchanging (military-)diplomatic friendship between Switzerland and India. The ears and eyes of hundreds of guests were treated to a colourful and playful celebration of the perpetual peace and unalterable friendship between the nations and their armed forces.
The Swiss Armed Forces Brass Band, as the musical ambassador of the Swiss Armed Forces, performed several concerts in Mumbai and Delhi from 7 to 14 September 2023. The Swiss representation network in India with the Embassy in Delhi and the Consulate General in Mumbai provided the perfect platform.
On 8 September, as part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, a first highlight followed in the form of a joint concert with the Indian Navy Band at the Royal Opera House Mumbai. Thanks to the high professionalism of both music ensembles, several pieces could even be played together despite the short preparation time. After further concerts, e.g. on 12 September at the Swiss representation for the benefit of the diplomatic community in New Delhi, another highlight and finale followed one day later: a joint two-hour concert of the Swiss Armed Forces Brass Band with the Indian Army Band in front of almost 900 spectators. Other concerts for the German schools in Mumbai and Delhi also provided an opportunity to play for the future and its coming generations, performing for eager ears and enthusiastic eyes of children.
Music connects people, music connects cultures, music is a globally understood language. The pieces played together expressed the friendship and harmony between India and Switzerland. Colourful, dynamic, in harmony and perfectly tuned to each other. In an increasingly fragmented world, the image of two armed forces making music together is a great success!
(Photo Credits: Nathyfa Michel)
Swiss-Ugandan singer-songwriter AWORI mesmerized Indian audiences with her creative fusion of hip-hop, electronic music and R’n’B music and jumpy dance moves.
This was definitely a performance off the beaten track in diplomatic Delhi as an enchanted audience took in the versatile musical performance of a talented Swiss musician. Awori performed in the five Indian cities of Chandigarh, Kolkata, New Delhi, Pune and Mumbai. Every location was a different set-up: one bar, one restaurant-cum-stage, one Alliance Française cinema hall and one club. In Delhi, music enthusiasts, the Embassy of Switzerland and also sponsors were present when Awori kept everybody’s attention with a dexterous and melodious performance. Every song garnered energetic applause by the packed cinema hall at Alliance Française in New Delhi.
Young men of the Dharavi Dream Project, an underground hip-hop movement of India’s largest shantytown, opened the gig in Mumbai with their pulsating b-boying and rap. Picking up on the vibe, AWORI connected with the audience effortlessly through the music and received an enthusiastic response from them. The performance was not only limited to the stage as the listeners swayed along with the artist dancing the night away.
Throughout the concerts, the audiences in India were surprised about the continuous shift in styles as the artist moved swiftly and seamlessly from Rap/Hip-Hop to R’n’B’ and Electro with her soothing voice and energetic dance moves. Her lyrics were in French, English and Swahili. Explaining her songs in-between, the music aficionados learnt about the themes of her lyrics: Madagascar’s last queen, romantic break-up feelings, dance songs and memories from her childhood in Uganda all figured prominently in the playlist.
The Swiss-Ugandan singer-songwriter AWORI already experiments with rap, hip-hop, electronic music, R’n’B, mixing them with feminist and socially committed lyrics and storytelling. Currently she is studying Jazz in Paris and will soon add Blues elements and a bass guitar to her broad musical repertoire.
These performances were the result of a collaboration with Alliance Française. This was the fifth time in Delhi in 2023 alone that we have joined forces with Alliance Française and pooled resources in a joined project, making this Indo-Swiss success story even more international.
A good Indian wedding starts with a successful matchmaking. That is how the Embassy of Switzerland intended to bring together Swiss companies and civil society organizations (CSOs) active in India, in order to boost their impact on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The CSR Round Table gathered around 50 representatives of 13 Swiss companies and 18 CSOs in a thrilling 2-minutes pitching session, followed by a networking event. The event took place in the presence of former Federal Councilor and Chairwoman of Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), Ms. Ruth Metzler-Arnold, and Chairwoman of the Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV), Ms. Barbara Hayoz.
How can the 323 Swiss companies active in India contribute to the Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals? Certainly, by being aware of their impact and implementing relevant CSR projects. What do CSOs need in order to carry on their much-needed mission? It goes without saying that they require funding and a good network. The event intended to bring together stakeholders from various CSOs and Swiss businesses to foster collaboration, have them promote their own activities, share best practices, and explore opportunities for collective social impact. Not only between companies and organizations, but also among CSOs themselves.
Switzerland has a longstanding history of engagement with civil society in India. The Swiss international cooperation has been active in India since 1958. This work now focuses on climate change mitigation and sustainability. The Swiss government attaches great importance to the promotion of sustainable business practices. To this end, the Federal Council adopted a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Action Plan 2020-2023, along a whole range of instruments dedicated to sustainability, human rights and overarching Sustainable Development Goals. India has a vibrant civil society. The Central Statistical Institute of India reports that there are over 3.3 million NGOs and civil society organizations in India. In Switzerland, we have more than 40’000 charities, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations. Civic engagement and CSR are highly held values in both Switzerland and in India.
When a visionary Indian doctor teams up with a committed Swiss surgeon, nothing is impossible. An unlikely encounter in Switzerland has grown a strong friendship: the Swiss-Himalayan Amity. Made up of men and women of goodwill, this partnership brings health, education and sustainability to more than 200 villages in the hills of Uttarakhand.
Satoli, a small village perched in the wooded hills of Uttarakhand. From the nearest airport, it is a four-hour drive up the continuous switchbacks suspended above the void. On the mountainside, a small hospital adorned with a Swiss and Indian flag. It is the result of a long-term partnership between a Swiss rural architecture and cheese amateur, Dr Sushil Sharma, and a Himalayas lover from Zurich, Dr Robert Graf. Together, they have been working since 2005 with their association, the Swiss-Himalayan Amity, to provide care for a rural community of 200 villages. Today, the clinic is operational 24/7 and a Mobile Medical Unit ensures that as many villagers as possible in the outlying areas are reached.
More than just a hospital, the two friends have succeeded in bringing together a resilient local community. Through four NGOs – Aarohi, Arogya and Alaap – the two doctors are working to empower mountain people through three key areas: education, health and sustainability. Close to the clinic, below, is a school for children with an annex building dedicated to vocational training currently under construction. Twice a year, Dr Graf operates in the clinic with the support of other practitioners from Switzerland. In Rishikesh, a CanKids station dedicated to children with cancer has been opened to enable affected families to remain in the State. Lastly, an initiative aims to replant local tree species to create a sustainable reforestation with greater carbon capture capacity enjoys a 90% success rate.
On 5 October 2023, the Swiss-Himalayan Bounty took place. This exceptional event brought together supporters of the Swiss-Himalayan Amity. Organised by Ashish Verma with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland, the event gathered residents, social workers, entrepreneurs, artists, chefs and craftsmen. Set against a sumptuous backdrop of the Himalayas, it was an opportunity for Indian civil society to come together and imagine a resilient future in the hills. As mentioned by the Swiss Deputy Head of Mission, Dr. Olivier Fink, in his remarks during the event, the initiative was set under the auspices of 75 years of friendship between Switzerland and India.
Between 10th and 13th October 2023, more than twenty representatives from thirteen Swiss companies from the rail sector visited India. The Joint Working Group on Technical Cooperation in the rail sector between the Swiss Federal Office of Transport and the Indian Railway Board successfully took place, confirming that Switzerland and India are complementary partners
The Indian railway network is India’s lifeline. It connects the different parts of the subcontinent and allows social, cultural and economic connections in the diverse and huge country. The Indian government knows about the importance of the railways for social cohesion and economic development. This explains why Indian Railways is the second largest employer in the country and accounts for a considerable share of public expenditure. The large networks not only need constant maintenance, but also new investments and innovation. This is exactly where the Swissrail Mission to India came into the picture.
Between 10th and 13th October 2023, more than twenty representatives from thirteen Swiss companies from the rail sector visited India. The aim of the Swissrail Mission was to position Swiss companies’ products and services in the Indian railway segment. The two core elements were the Joint Working Group on Technical Cooperation in the rail sector between the Swiss Federal Office of Transport and the Indian Railway Board, as well as a specially organized matchmaking event for the delegation with potential Indian partners and customers. Besides these program points, the Swiss company representatives had the opportunity to visit a project site of the National Capital Region Transport Cooperation (NCRTC) to mingle with further industry actors at the International Railway Equipment Exhibition (IREE) and – last but not the least – to learn more about the Swiss transport policy and India in general in a social evening hosted by the Swiss Ambassador to India in the presence of the Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport.
The Swissrail Mission confirmed that Switzerland and India are complementary partners in the railway sector. India is currently investing heavily in the expansion and modernization of its railway network. Swiss companies from all possible subsectors such as electrification, overhead lines, track systems, signaling, timetable services and also rolling stock were able to expand their network and set the course for further cooperation with and in India. While the comparatively higher prices of Swiss products and services compared to competitors used to be a potential barrier to market entry, it is now precisely Swiss quality that is in demand. Ultimately, this not only increases safety and efficiency, but is often also more durable and therefore more cost-effective in the long run. Railways will continue to be an important part of the Swiss-Indian bilateral relations in the future. The first follow-up projects from the Swissrail Mission to India are already in the making.
400+ Indian students and underprivileged children discovered unique floral artworks showcased on the occasion of the flagship event “Swiss Art Night – SwitzerlandIndia In Bloom”. After a guided walk through, the young public took part in an empowering exchange on arts and vocational education with 6 Swiss and Indian artists.
The Swiss Art Night was marked by the 75th anniversary of Swiss-Indian Friendship. Embassy grounds were left in the creative hands of 6 flower and bamboo artists from Switzerland and India. This unprecedented collaboration resulted in the set-up of several flower art installations, delivering a powerful message of peace, friendship and sustainability: (see success story #36). The second day of “SwitzerlandIndia in Bloom” was specially dedicated to younger civil society members: 156 underprivileged children from NGOs and 281 students and teachers from various schools and colleges’ arts departments were welcomed to the Embassy to take a stroll through the flower installations and let their imagination be carried away by their designs: “Is it a flower cloud? a giant bird? or a vegetation totem?”
After this museum-like walkthrough and unmissable photo sessions, all participants were invited to have a seat in the Embassy’s garden area. They met Dr. Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland in India, and his wife, Dr. Macconi, Swiss floral artists Myrta Frohofer, Hannah Knoblauch, Philipp von Arx, and their Indian counterparts Adarsh Suresh and Shreeram Kulkarni, as well as bamboo artist Sagar D. Singh. All intervenors shared personal insights on their vocational journey, and the vibrant passion they held for their respective activities. A particular focus was put on the necessity to educate, train and believe in oneself, especially when following an artistic or alternative career path.
The floor was then opened to questions from the young public, who showed much curiosity for floral artistic practices and the related premiere Swiss-Indian collaboration. After this rich exchange, DJ Barnett took over and charmed us all with catchy rhythms, allowing the evening to culminate in a joyful collective cardio session, with some impressive dancing skills to be witnessed!
Award-winning Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer has worked in the Himalayas and South Asia for decades. In Dharamshala he held a workshop about his experiences as a lens-based artist ranging from still photography to shooting documentaries.
Award-winning Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer presented a masterclass to a house-full of enthusiastic photographers and film-makers in Dharamshala. The masterclass covered topics of his development as a photographer and his transition to becoming a documentary cameraperson. He showed examples of his photo stories and intimate behind-the scenes images from his book “Journey for Peace: The 14th Dalai Lama”. He talked about how his experience as a still photographer informed his choices while shooting a documentary film about the Dalai Lama. Clips from the as yet unreleased documentary were shown. The session ended with a Q&A with the audience. The masterclass was organized by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam also curators of Dharamshala International Film Festival.
Manuel Bauer who lives in Winterthur has worked profusely as a lens-based artist in the Himalaya region and South Asia and has held many speeches and lectures. His extensive multimedia-portfolio covers a variety of motifs and themes. He devotes a part of his time to mentoring young photographers in different countries as they navigate the first hurdles in this fascinating yet demanding career.
As part of the series, there will also be a workshop by filmmakers Tenzing Sonam & Ritu Sarin about Artistic Documentation & Fictional Storytelling. The filmmakers will showcase their fiction narrative film alongside Manuel’s photo-essay, Escape From Tibet, as an inspiration and a visual guide at two universities in India in 2024.
An Indo-Swiss expert expedition in Sikkim was a milestone for Switzerland’s technical assistance for enhanced preparedness against Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
A team of four Swiss experts and 27 experts from prominent Indian Government agencies installed two monitoring stations and assessed risks related to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Sikkim. The 10 days expedition to the high-altitude lakes of Shako Cho and South Lhonak was successfully completed despite harsh weather conditions. Information from the monitoring stations and assessments from the expedition will be vital in designing a pioneering Early Warning System (EWS) and to identify mitigation measures. This pioneer EWS shall serve as reference for other Indian Himalayan States to protect lives and livelihoods.
A GLOF is a flood which occurs when large quantities of water dammed by a glacier or a moraine is released suddenly. The designing of a pioneering GLOF EWS is a joint initiative by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under the project “Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation in Himalayas” (SCA-Himalayas). Further the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) provided crucial support during the recent expedition.
Switzerland has been collaborating since multiple years with the Indian partners in the field of Disaster Risk Management in the Himalayan Region to foster scalable adaptation measures and enhanced climate resilience. A cornerstone was the technical support by Swiss experts for the development of the first Guidelines for Management of GLOFs in India published jointly with NDMA in 2020.
In this 75th year of Swiss-Indian friendship, Switzerland Tourism honored the reigning Olympic champion and World champion in Men’s javelin throw Neeraj Chopra as Switzerland’s “Friendship Ambassador” in India. The ‘Golden Boy’ of Indian sports visited Switzerland and participated in outdoor and adventure, and shared his experiences with Indian travelers.
Thanks to Bollywood’s romantic interludes shot against Swiss alpine panoramas since the 1960s, Switzerland’s snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and crystal-clear lakes are immensely popular in India. It is therefore only natural that Switzerland is the most favored European destination in India’s popular consciousness.
In this 75th year of Swiss-Indian ties, Switzerland Tourism honoured reigning Olympic champion and World champion in Men’s javelin throw Neeraj Chopra as Switzerland’s “Friendship Ambassador” in India. The Indian sports and youth icon flaunted the spectacular Swiss landscapes, unique cities, efficient public transport and multitudes of adventure activities available across scenic Switzerland. Fondly labeled the ‘Golden Boy of Indian Sports’, Friendship Ambassador Neeraj Chopra, aims to showcase Switzerland as a haven for outdoorsy and adventurous Indian travelers.
With sustainable options and a wide variety of experiences on offer, Switzerland Tourism has effectively popularized Switzerland as an appealing destination all year round, luring more Indian tourists with each passing year.
Award-winning Swiss Author Martina Clavadetscher gave performed readings and conducted writing workshops at the Tata Literature Live! and subsequently for German language students and professors of Pune and Mumbai universities.
Swiss novelist and playwright Martina Clavadetscher represented Switzerland at the Mumbai international literature festival ‘Tata Lit Live 2023’. She gave her first English reading about unknown women in famous paintings, whose faces, captured in an eternal moment, look out at us from famous artworks: Wally Neuzil painted by Egon Schiele, Cecilia Gallerani by DaVinci, and Margeritha Luti by Raffaello. But who were those women, actually? Martina Clavadetscher presented their stories through a performed reading, featuring excerpts from her latest book Vor aller Augen (In Plain Sight). Thundering applause by more than 120 spectators testified that she left a lasting impression on the festival audience, who beelined for a personal interaction with the author after the reading and requested her to publish the English translation of this researched-based fiction for the Indian readers.
Martina Clavadetscher also conducted a creative writing workshop in English with around 25 participants at the festival. Here she used structures and dramaturgy of famous stories and prompted the participants to come up with their own texts during the workshop. The characters and constructs of well-known tales served as an inspiration for the participants to create their own works in the written form.
For the German language students and faculty of around 125 people at the universities of Pune and Mumbai, the Swiss author performed a reading of her prize-winning novel in German and gave the workshop in German ‘Monster, Märchen und Motive’ to encourage the language lovers to create their fiction in a foreign language. The engaging interactions with enthusiastic audiences touched upon many interesting topics from art history to women’s rights to Indians’ love for Switzerland!
Swissnex in India successfully launched the ‘Indo-Swiss Innovation Platform’ with its pilot project ‘Indo-Swiss Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Innovation Dialogue’, where 50 experts from Switzerland and India convened to address AMR.
In collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland in India and the Swiss Business Hub India, Swissnex in India launched the ambitious Indo-Swiss Innovation Platform at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, to give Switzerland’s collaboration with India a more strategic dimension in the areas of health, sustainability and digital transformation. The Platform, which is a new initiative to marry a bottom-up approach with a top-down one for greater impact, was kickstarted with the ‘Indo-Swiss Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Innovation Dialogue’. It requires collaborative effort to be in a position to confront global crises such as antimicrobial resistance. Nearly 50 experts from Switzerland and India gathered for three days to discuss innovative approaches to address AMR. The Dialogue included short presentations, field trips and an immersive module to introduce participants to the Indian innovation ecosystem in the space of AMR, including novel therapeutics, diagnostics and software that enable better implementation of preventive measures and better monitoring systems of ongoing infection patterns.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder of Biocon and India’s most prominent businesswoman, graced the occasion with relevant insights. Others included prominent innovator in drug discovery Dr. Mathai Mammen, India’s science and technology department’s Dr. S.K. Varshney, infectious diseases expert Dr. Annelies Zinkernagel, and Swiss ambassador to India Dr. Ralf Heckner. About the Platform, Mazundar-Shaw said, “I think this is a great, great way of collaborating, sharing knowledge and bringing to the world innovation that will make a difference. Switzerland has a lot of innovative power and India has the talent to start learning to innovate, which is what we need to do. Together, we can really translate this effort into solutions that will actually help the world”.
The idea of the Innovation Platform is to consider matters beyond initial conversations in a planned and thorough manner that leads to tangible, measurable outcomes. Its efforts lie in enabling partnerships and collaborations in subjects that are relevant to both countries, and conducting them in more meaningful and purposeful ways, thereby contributing towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In the majestic Jaisalmer Palace in Rajasthan two Swiss artists, Zimoun and Fortunat Fröhlich, were being exhibited for over a month. The installations called “Panorama Editions” focused on sound experiences, an aspect of art often overlooked due to prevalent status of the visual dimension.
Jaisalmer, nicknamed Golden City, is a desert town in Rajasthan. On the 4th November 2023 over a dozen embassies and many representatives of the former princely families gathered for the vernissage with artworks from 19 different countries at the Jaisalmer Fort in the former royal abodes. For the installations with the title “Panorama Editions”, the main organizer and artist, Sarah Singh, focused on sound experiences, an aspect of art often overlooked due to the prevalent position of the visual dimension.
The desert as a backdrop was chosen on purpose, since the seemingly “deserted” sand dunes have sounds and lifeforms which only become noticeable with close attention and immersion. Thanks to a collaboration between the Embassy of Switzerland and Pro Helvetia, Switzerland was present with two artists. Zimoun’s installation was placed in the royal audience hall (Diwan-e-Aam). Zimoun is best known for his immersive work which uses home and industrial appliances to create sound and visual impressions. His works explore the dichotomy between simplicity and complexity. Composer Fortunat Fröhlich’s artwork was displayed in two places of the palace, with the musical notes printed out – an artistic interplay between the written and auditory forms of sound.
The exhibition was open to the public for over a month and surprised its audience with contemporary art, in addition to the palace museum exhibiting the artefacts and heirlooms of the former Maharajas. The audience was mainly composed of local Rajasthani and Indian tourists but also international travelers drawn to the land of the rajas (Rajasthan). The desert town of Jaisalmer has another Swiss footprint – three hotels which cater to low-budget backpackers as well as luxury travelers are managed by a Swiss-Indian business venture.
By winning gold at FIS International Ski Races in Dubai, the Swiss-trained skier from Kashmir Arif Khan became the first Indian skier to win an international ski competition.
On the 9th of November, Arif Khan climbed on the highest step of the Podium at the FIS International Ski Races in Dubai, bringing India its first Gold medal in a FIS (International Ski and Snowboard Federation) competition. Arif wrote a glorious new page in the history of Indian skiing, and brought the mountains of India and Switzerland one step closer.
With its blue lakes and rolling green hills surrounded by majestic snowcapped mountains, Kashmir is often described as the “Switzerland of India.” It is there, in the mountain resort of Gulmarg, that Arif Khan was born in 1990. Arif’s father had opened Gulmarg’s first ski shop in 1976. Arif was literally born on skis and, at the age of twelve, he won its first national competition. Then his dream to become an international skier took him to the Alps, most particularly in Switzerland, to train with the best athletes.
Since 2018, with the support of his sponsors, Arif spends more than six months a year training and competing in Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The Kashmiri skier, who is supported by the Swiss Ski Federation and proudly uses Swiss Skis (Stöckli) – lists Verbier, St Moritz, Zermatt and Saas Fee as his favorite skiing destinations. At the age of 33, Arif has competed in several national and regional competitions, and participated in five Alpine World Ski Championships. He was the only Indian athlete to represent his country at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 and the first Indian athlete to compete in two disciplines: slalom and giant slalom. After an injury in July, leaving his “shangri la beneath the summer moon”, Arif will return to Switzerland this winter. He is firmly determined to train harder, win new medals, put Gulmarg on the map, and represent India at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan. This winter, check out for a Kashmiri skier on slopes, resolute to turn more snow into gold!