Toni Hagen Foundation Documentary Grant

The Toni Hagen Foundation has been set up in honour of the Swiss geologist and development
philosopher Tony Hagen (1917-2003). Over the course of the 1950s and ‚1960s, first as a Swiss
development official and later as a United Nations expert, Toni Hagen trekked through a largely
uncharted country, and introduced it to the world. Going beyond his own professional discipline,
Hagen wrote about the history, people, landscape and economy of what till then was still a largely
“forbidden“ kingdom.
Over the decades, as he became deeply involved in the study and practice of development in Asia
and elsewhere, Hagen emerged as an acute observer and sympathetic critic of the process of
modernisation and change in Nepal. Today Prof. Hagen is appreciated by his Nepali friends for his
strongly-held beliefs on the need for socio-economic advancement through genuine democracy,
through decentralisation, appropriate use of technology, and the underlying requirement of quality
As the person who introduced the geographical features of Nepal not only to the world but also to
Nepalis (as vouched for by the late Prime Minister B.P.Koirala himself), Toni Hagen has always
sought to enhance the Nepalis’ understanding of the physical, ethnographic, economic and other
aspects of their country. His belief has been that this country of 23 million (there were only 9 million
when he arrived in 1950) can advance only when the country’s geophysical and demographic
diversity is fully understood by the inhabitants. Only then will Nepalis truly begin to take advantage
of the economic potential of their country.
The Toni Hagen Foundation, keeping in view the career and ethos of its namesake, will have one
overarching goal: to promote the understanding of Himalayan geography among the people of the
Himalaya, particularly the youth. Geography, in this sense, is understood as a broad discipline
including physical geography, economy, ethnography, culture and related areas. The Himalayas, in
the definition of the Foundation, includes both the adjacent Terai plains to the south as well as
sections of the Tibetan plateau in the North.
The Foundation will support publication, production of content and activities to enhance the
knowledge base of the Himalayan region among young Nepalis. These publications and contents
will include, for example, works on the physical geography of the Himalaya, studies of rivers, as
well as historically informed analysis of environmental practices in
Nepal’s diverse demographic structure, the Foundation will seek to promote spread of knowledge
about the various cultural strands that make up the country that is Nepal. An important focus of the
Foundation’s output will be to provide graded output which will be useful for young children and
college students.

Toni Hagen Grant Winners

Grishma Giri- Blues of pink

Pradeep Dhakal- Gaine

Rajeela Shreshtha- Chitrapuri Nagar