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R.Viswanathan

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......Passionate about Latin America.....

 

Yes... I am ...Passionate about Latin America.... I blog, tweet, write articles, publish books, give speeches, run a website and host a facebook group on Latin America . My Latin American interests cover politics, economies,history, literature, culture, music and movies.

I love the Latin American spirit, which is

celebra la vida

segundo a segundo

nada se guarde

todo se brinde...

It means.. celebrate life ..second to second.. hold back nothing..give out everything..

This is part of of a pop song by Axel, the Argentine singer.

I admire and love the company of the Latin Americans who are lively,cheerful, free-spirited, warm and friendly. I enjoy samba and salsa, football and carnaval, tequila and caipirinha, copacabana and ipanema, cafezinho and cafecito, bossanova and boleros, tango and malbec.

I read Latin American fiction, poems, biographies, autobiographies and books on history, politics, economics, business and culture of Latin America. My favourite authors are: Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Alvaro Mutis, Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Amado, Octavio Paz and Laura Restrepo among others.

I go crazy with Latino music. My favourite singers and bands are: Reik, Cristian Castro, Axel,,Diego Torres, Luis Fonsi, Selena, Gal Costa, Roberta Miranda, Alexandro Pires, Marco Antonio Solis, Gloria Estefan, Alex Ubago, Chayanne, Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes, Jesse y Joy, Prince Royce and Celia Cruz.

My favourite Latin American films: Frida, Su Excellencia, ( both mexican) Embajador de la India, La libertadora del Libertador, Yo soy Bolivar ( all three colombian) Capitan Pantoja y las visitadoras( Peruvian) , Los voces inocentes ( El Salvador) and Central Station, Bossa Nova ( Brazil), El mismo amory la misma lluvia, Orillas, Diario de un motorcyclista, Cuento Chino, Hunabko ,Historia oficial ( Argentina)Latin American heroes : Simon Bolivar and Che Guevara

I am a believer in the New Latin America which has a new paradigm of sustainable political stability, economic growth and autonomy in foreign policy based on a new mindset and market.The region has found its own development model in the " Brasilia Consensus" of equilibrium between pro-poor and pro-business policies. The macroeconomic fundamentals have become stronger and the economies have become more resilient and resistant to external shocks. The Latin American countries are moving in the direction of regional and sub-regional integration which reinforce their political and economic stability while at the same time the groups have become like firewalls against external interference. Exceptions are there, of course..

I have visited all the Latin American countries and feel at home whether it is Tegucigalpa or Tierra del Fuego. See map 

 

Publications:

 

Blogs

 

Website

 

Youtube

 

Twitter

 

Facebook

 

Articles

My articles on Latin America and Indo-Latin American relations have been published in newspapers,magazines and business journals of India, Latin America and USA

List and links of articles

 

Speeches

I give talks on Latin America in Indian Chambers of Commerce, Thinktanks and Universities in the various cities of India as well as speeches on India in Latin American chambers, thinktanks and Universities in spanish and portuguese.

Over 100 speeches since November 2007 are in youtube

 

Diplomatic Career

- Ambassador of India to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - October 2007 to May 2012. Retired from there on 31 may 2012

- Head of the Latin America Division in the Ministry of External Affairs of India - 2004 to 2007.

- Head of Investment and Trade Promotion Division in the Ministry, 2003 - 2004

- Ambassador to Venezuela 2000-2003.

- Consul General of India in Sao Paulo - 1996 to 2000.

- Previous postings include New York ( mission to the United Nations), Mauritius, Libya, Pakistan and Portugal

 

post-retirement

- Distinguished Fellow, Latin America Studies, Gateway House ( Indian Council on Global Relations ) since 1 August 2013

My writings in Gateway House are in the link http://www.gatewayhouse.in/author/r-viswanathan/

 

Golf

 

Golf

Golf enthusiast. played in many courses in Latin America including snow golf in Ushuaia in Argentina.

List of Golf courses played in Argentina

Have played in more than 90 courses in the East Coast of US during posting in New York.

member of Delhi Golf Club

 

Skiing

skiied in Vale Nevado in Chile and Bariloche, Las Lenas, Chappelco and Ushuaia in Argentina, besides some US ski resorts

 

Other interests

tennis, ping pong, done some rollerblading and ice skating too

travel, reading, music and bridge

 
Life before diplomacy

worked as lecturer in Chemistry at Bishop Heber College, Trichy 1974-5 and at Pachaiyappa's College, Madras 1975-77

M Sc chemistry from Pachaiyappa's College Madras, 1974

B Sc chemistry from Pushpam College, Poondi

High School studies- Government Secondary School, Mariammankovil

Elementary School , Rararmuthiraikottai village, halfway between Mariammankovil and Poondi

 

Malgudi to Macondo - my journey

 
  • I was born in Alangudi Mahajanam, a village 15 km from Lalgudi ( sounds like Malgudi, the fictional small town in the novels of RK Narayan) and 35 km from Trichy in Tamilnadu. My mother is illiterate and my father could read Tamil. They had half an acre of land in which they grew rice. With three children ( I am the eldest) to feed, they gave me away to be brought up by my distant uncle in Raramuthiraikottai, another village 12 km from Thanjavur. My uncle had 5 acres of land and no children. I did my elementary school in Raramuthiraikottai and higher elementary school in Mariammankovil. It was my good luck that the school got upgraded to High School and I was in the first batch from ninth to eleventh standard. My uncle did not believe that education would lead to a viable livelihood. He wanted me to focus on the land and the cattle with the promise that I could inherit his property. He would, therefore, ask me to stop the studies at the beginning of every summer holidays of school. I managed to finish the schooling in the Government Higher Secondary School in Mariammankovil. After this, my uncle put his foot down and said with a finality in his voice, “ Enough of your studies. We cannot afford to send you to college. Get ready to look after the land and cattle”  That is when, Poondi College came to my rescue. I told him that the college was just three kms from the village. I promised to him that I would do the  farm work in the morning and during weekend. I convinced him that the amount of  scholarship I would get with my high marks would be more than the college fees. Reluctantly, he agreed. And my escape thereafter, was unstoppable.
  • I did my reading under a kerosene oil lamp till I finished BSc. Raramuthiraikottai had no electricty. I had to do ploughing, grazing of the cattle and other field work early in the morning and during holidays.Of course, most of my friends in the village did the same. I went barefoot to the school and got my first pair of sandals when I went to college. I bought my first pair of full pants when I got award of money for the first prize I won in the annual state-wide Tamil exam. My dream was to go by cycle to school and college. But it remained only as a dream and I had to go by walk 3 kms to the school and 3 kms to the college too. But still I was luckier compared to some of my classmates whose families went without food many times.
  • After the Tamil medium schooling, I got lost in the English medium, when I joined Poondi Pushpam college, where I did a degree in Chemistry. Then I got lucky to do postgraduation in Pachaiyappa´s college in the big city of Chennai.
  • Thanks to a wonderful Tamil teacher, I became interested in Tamil ilterature in class nine. My literary interest got further stimulated iduring my graduate studies. I had a dream of becoming a Tamil poet. In fact, I had applied for MA TamilLiterature in Pachaiyappa's College, Madras. But my Tamil professor from Poondi College advised me that Chemistry would offer better job prospects than Tamil studies.
  • I worked as chemistry lecturer ( the designation was Demonstrator..) for one year at Bishop Heber College, Trichy and two years at Pachiyappa´s college, Chennai. I loved teaching. The satisfaction was instant... visible in the glint of the eyes of the students. But the salary of 500- 600 Rupees a month lasted only for a fortnight.
  • I was looking for a better job, when a friend advised me to take the civil service exam ... oops I got lucky. I was selected in the written test and was called for interview in Delhi. The first thing I did was sightseeing of the Delhi city and Tajmahal. I was not sure if I would come again on the 2500 km train journey. I was overwhelmed by the Capital city and the people from the north, who could not make out whether I was saying yes or no when I shook my head all the time.... I was thrilled when I passed the interview. After this I met an IAS officer for the first time in my life. She had one look at me and said that a country bumpkin ( kabaadi was the only game I had played till I got my first job) like me would not fit in the high-flying world of diplomacy. I took my time to adapt myself, gain confidence and be myself and became an accidental diplomat.Even now my parents and many of my relatives and friends do not know what does Ambassador or diplomat mean.
  • It was love at first sight with Latin America when I went to Brazil in 1996. I lost my Malgudian innocence in the Macondo ( fictional town in the novels of Gabrie Garcia Marquez ) spirit of Magical Realism of Latin America.

 

 

 

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