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HSS India Anniversary
Looking back on 25 years in India

This year Hanns Seidel Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary in India. Over the years, the Foundation has built partnerships on the ground, achieved milestones and strengthened Indo-German cooperation.


Team 2011/12 with former resident representative Dr. Volker Bauer

Team 2011/12 with former resident representative Dr. Volker Bauer

The Hanns Seidel Foundation's journey in India began on 11 July 1996, initially still managed from Munich. It was not until 2003 that the first representative Dr. Karl Fischer opened an office in New Delhi. Two of the first local staff members from back then are still in the team today!

The primary goal of the Foundation was and is to make a successful contribution to Indo-German cooperation. This is made possible by the mandate and support of the Political Foundations from the German Bundestag.

Over the years, the Foundation's network grew and cooperation with new partner organisations increased the Foundation's reach as well as the range of tools (from conferences to manuals to grassroots projects with local populations). The initial focus was on women's and economic empowerment and regional security policy. The HSS made a name for itself in India as a reliable partner and supporter, always in line with relevant national policies. The networking of science and politics, transparency and internationality helped to gain trust for our work in India. Above all, it encourages the Foundation to make an important contribution in the country.

Practice-oriented Police Training: Cooperation between Karnataka and Bavaria

Practice-oriented Police Training: Cooperation between Karnataka and Bavaria

Making a difference together with partners

The focus of the Foundation's work changed over the years; although support for women's rights and regional dialogue remained. Over time, milestones were achieved in the areas of federalism, access to justice and water management. Our greatest thanks go to our partner organisations, without whom none of this could be achieved. Past and present partners, people who follow and support our work, have made this journey meaningful.

Miletones on its way...

  • With the focus shifting to strengthening Federalism/decentralized governance and building capacities of the citizens in political decision making HSS can be proud of the capacities that have been built in the rural areas, where the women who were previously hesitant and had practically no voice in the governance are now standing for elections and actively participating in the local governance.
  • A benchmarking study on degree of devolution in the Panchayati Raj system was concluded in 2014 in 7 selected states. This served as a litmus test to assess the success of federalism and decentralized governance in India. The results were published.
Capacity-building in rural Rajasthan

Capacity-building in rural Rajasthan

  • Women Empowerment has also been a cornerstone of HSS programmes right from the beginning. Here it is worth mentioning that HSS had a project on Engendering Water conservation, where women elected representatives from rural Rajasthan and Gujarat were trained in basic and advanced water conservation & management methods. During her visit to India end of 2015 Chairperson Prof. Maennle acknowledged the trained women leaders of water conservation by giving out certificates.
  • Regional dialogues conducted with Partner organizations have also been part of the HSS programmes in India since 2006 or even earlier. Can recall that HSS had a conference in Sri Lanka in March 2008 which discussed the challenges in a war- torn country. Then in the following year there was also a conference post war towards rebuilding & peace.
  • The signing of the MoU between Karnataka and Bavaria in 2015 was also the starting point of a very important project to create safer spaces and strengthen the safety infrastructure especially in Karnataka. A fruitful collaboration between Karnataka Police and Bavarian Police has been implemented by HSS.
Usha Subramanian: Head of Finance & Administration, HSF India

Usha Subramanian: Head of Finance & Administration, HSF India

Interview with Usha Subramanian

Q. How did you find out about HSS and what was the organization like then?

A. My association with HSF began in 2004 as a part of a joint collaboration with an NGO based in Delhi. In 2006 came to know about a vacancy and applied for a part -time position.

HSF in 2006 had 8 employees in all including the Resident Representative. 3 employees were part-time. Also then, we all used to meet once a week for a Jour fix as we all used to come in on different days of the week. The work atmosphere was always very cordial with a flexible environment giving enough time for individual development along with work. The list of collaborations steadily expanded from 2-3 partners in 1996 and averaged annually at about 7-8 partners and currently around 12 Partners. In all HSS has linked with more than 25 organizations and countless experts.

Q. Talk to us about some of the big successes in the last 25 years HSS India. What moments stand out to you?

A. If I were to think back, I can recall many triumphs and a few disappointments too. Honestly, I would not pin point any one project or event but certainly our work in India has been a successful progression of impactful collaborations.

Q. What was one of the biggest challenges you remember?

A. Yes. The setbacks in the work of HSS has been when some partnerships could not be continued or when there is staff at HSS who had to leave HSS for personal reasons.

Q. What is the favorite part of your work?

A. The dynamism in my work is what I like the most.  Cannot recall a single dull day at work! Having started as a programme manager and also having project management experience has helped me even after I shifted to finance. I also like interacting with colleagues and partners.

Q. What do you wish for the next 25 years of HSS India?

A. My wish for HSS in the next 25 years would be that HSS continues to contribute successfully to the development cooperation not only between India and Germany but also other countries. By consolidating the existing partnerships and gaining more, HSS can become a name to reckon with in the areas of collaborations like (but not limited to) climate & water security, safe cities, governance and federalism.

The journey continues...

The Foundation enters its next 25 years as a respected cooperation partner. Together with universities, think tanks, state and central governments as well as civil society organisations, the aim is to further support India in developing in a sustainable, effective and people-friendly way. HSS India is not only present in New Delhi and Bangalore, but also in social media.

The HSS team is looking forward to continuing the fruitful cooperation in India, broadening its own horizons and forging stronger relationships with partner organisations in India. Together, successes can be achieved in the service of democracy, peace and development.