NEW YEAR WISHES AND THOUGHTS 2011
I have the privilege this year to greet you in the New Year from the island paradise of Jamaica, where all the Sreenivasans have assembled. For some of us, it is a holiday from holiday, but for our children and grandchildren, it is a welcome change from hectic work and study. The holiday was meticulously planned by Sreenath and Roopa. Sharavati, Sreekanth’s wife, who joined the family in November 2009 was also actively involved. The most excited are our grandchildren, Durga and Krishna, who have begun to value family bonding.
The year 2010 was a year more of continuity than change for us. I continued my second career as a writer, broadcaster and an evangelist for foreign policy. As a member of the National Security Advisory Board, I travelled frequently to Delhi and participated in intellectually stimulating discussions with some of the best minds in India. The Kerala International Centre today is a credible think tank with an impressive membership and interesting activities. I had more invitations for talks in India and abroad than I could accept, but I did as many as I could. My third book went to the publishers this year and it should be out in the New Year.
Lekha continued her artistic and charitable pursuits. She realized her dream of setting up a Karuna Charities home for the sick and the destitute in Thiruvananthapuram, which has the facility to put up and look after about 20 people at a time. She finds peace and joy in giving attention to the sick and the poor.
My elder son, Sreenath, who is in his 17th year at Columbia, turned 40 and used it as an excuse to connect 40-year-olds around the world in a social-media effort to help those who live where life expectancy is less than 40, via Giftof40.com. He has added social media to his academic repertoire, and was named by the prestigious Poynter Institute as one of the 35 most influential people in social media and by the Society of Professional Journalists as of the 20 journalists to follow on Twitter (but as a teacher, he was most proud of the fact that three of his students were on the same list!). If you are on Twitter yourself, you can follow him at @sree.
Sreenath's wife, Roopa, (@roopaonline) continues to play senior roles at Pfizer, the world's largest pharma company. She is now a vice president of strategy for the company, which is going through major changes as it transitions in a new CEO and deals with the integration of another pharma giant Wyeth, which it bought for $68 billion. I continue to marvel at how Roopa does it all: being a corporate executive while being a highly engaged mother to her twins. She's a role model for working mothers everywhere.
The twins, Durga and Krishna, now 7.5 years old, are thriving in second grade. Their extracurriculars include fencing and basketball for Krishna; fencing and Bharata Natyam for Durga. They both study Hindi on Saturdays. One of the highlights for me this year is that I've gotten to spend more time with them, including on this extended Jamaica vacation. Though I have been nervous as they, like their mother, have become daredevils. My heart has been in my throat as they do things like parasailing, whitewater rafting, snorkeling and ziplining.
My younger son, Sreekanth and his wife, Sharavati have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and settled down well in Gurgaon. Shree is now the General Manager of Netra India Limited which has made much headway in establishing its business in India. His passion for music of all kinds and social networking has won him a broad circle of friends around the globe. You may follow him at @shreedel.
Sharavati, who left her position as an anchor in ‘Headlines Today’ just before marriage, partnered me in my new book as a researcher and writer.
As for the wider family circle, my brothers and their families have done well in the year. One significant decision taken by my elder brother and his daughter, Suni and her husband Jayakumar to rebuild our family home in Kayamkulam gladdened all of us. My younger brother, Madhu retired as an Air Vice Marshall and moved to Jamshedpur to serve the Tatas. My brother in the Foreign Service, Seetharam, enjoyed his tenure as the Joint Secretary (West Europe) in the Ministry of External Affairs. The younger generation too brought laurels to the family.
The first international marriage by a member of the family was fixed during the year. We look forward in the New Year to the wedding of Prarthana, the daughter of my brother-in-law, Mohan, and Ed Timpe of Indiana.
The overwhelming sense about India in the year, despite our many accomplishments, particularly in foreign policy, was one of despondency about corruption growing deeper and deeper. The sense of resignation about this cancer is terrifying. In my view, the danger of this trend is that fewer people will be willing to make sacrifices for the country since the fruits of their labour will go the crooked and the corrupt. The best we can hope for the future is that the corrupt will be brought to book and that a sense of responsibility and fair play will prevail. My year-end analysis of India's foreign policy is available at http://bit.ly/tpsfp2010
The end of the year is the time to learn from our experiences and to plan for the future. We may still make mistakes, but the history of mistakes will not repeat itself. Good New Year resolutions should be made even if some of them are broken.
Lekha and I thank you for your kindness and friendship in the year 2010, for the messages of good wishes in various forms that we have received in the past weeks and wish you and yours the very best in 2011. We hope our paths will cross in the New Year and we will have much to share and cherish.
December 31, 2010