Niklaus-Samuel Gugger: Abandoned Indian kid who grew up to become Swiss parliamentarian


Niklaus-Samuel Gugger
Niklaus-Samuel Gugger

The story of how Niklaus-Samuel Gugger grew up to become the first Indian to be elected to the Swiss parliament is not something one would hear everyday.

Gugger was abandoned by his mother when he was just an infant. But fortunes turned around for the child when he was adopted by a Swiss couple named Fritz and Elizabeth, who were at the time living in Kerala.

“My mother, Anasuiya, handed me over to Dr ED Pflugfelder — now deceased — just after my birth, requesting him to give me to a couple who could rear me in a better way and help me make a good career,” the 48-year-old told IANS, adding that he has been unable to track down his biological mother.

Gugger holds no resentment towards his birth mother for giving him up, instead thanks her for all his success. To keep her memory alive, Gugger has even named his daughter after his biological mother.

India to Switzerland:

Gugger’s adoptive parents first took him to Kerala, as they were working there.

Elizabeth was a teacher of German and English and Fritz was a tool maker in Nattur Technical Training Foundation. They lived in Kerala for about four years before moving to Switzerland.

There, Gugger had to take up a number of odd jobs to finance his higher education, as his adoptive parents weren’t wealthy.

“They gave me food and clothes. They trained me in other things,” said Gugger.

Political journey:

In 2002, Gugger was elected town councillor from Winterthur city, northeast of Zurich.

“And subsequently, in November 2017, I was elected as a member of Switzerland parliament on the ticket of the Evangelical People’s Party — a minority party. I am the first Indian to be elected as an MP in Switzerland’s parliament,” he said, adding that he might be the only Indian in the Swiss parliament for the next decade or so as there weren’t other active Indian-origin politicians.