Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Wishes and Thoughts 2012

I have always tried to write a personal message to family and friends on the eve of the New Year even in the old days when it was fashionable to send printed cards. Now that it is all electronic, greetings have become even more impersonal as, at the touch of a button, you can greet all contacts. I think it will be a bit more meaningful to share some news and thoughts with friends and relatives, particularly with whom one is not in regular touch.

Many of you have sent greetings and good wishes to Lekha and me on the occasion of Christmas and New Year. Please accept this note as personal acknowledgement of your kind thoughts. We also wish you the very best for 2012. We look forward to hearing good news from you and your family all  through next year.

The year 2011 was fairly peaceful and pleasant for us. Sree, Roopa, Durga and Krishna in New York reported personal successes. Shree and Sharu moved from Delhi to Dubai and began enjoying their new home. I continued with my reading, writing and speaking in India and abroad. A second term on the National Security Advisory Board turned out to be rewarding throughout the year. I was also invited to the India-UK Round Table and I enjoyed the first meeting in Surajkund.
A totally unexpected offer to serve as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Kerala Higher Education Council came in October, marking a change in routine. Working for the Kerala Government for the first time has its own challenges. I was pleasantly surprised that political parties on both sides in Kerala supported my appointment. Life has become hectic with numerous meetings with a multitude of stake holders and many invitations to speak at conferences and seminars. I am also trying to maintain my reading and writing on foreign affairs. The Kerala International Centre and my weekly television programme on foreign affairs continue as before.

The year began with a happy note as Lekha's brother's daughter, Prarthana got married. The year ended with an addition to the family when Radhika, Lekha's sister's daughter and Hari decided to bring home a baby, Rukmini, to be their daughter.

We had a major loss this year when our close friend since 1980, Dr Mathew Illickal, passed away in New York. He and his wife, Lilykutty took care of us each time we went to New York, having been friends with us during our postings to the US. I happened to be in the US when Dr.Illickal died after a short illness and I was able to attend his funeral and pay my tribute to him.

My book on the Shashi Tharoor campaign was published this year and it was released in Thiruvananthapuram by the Kerala Chief Minister. The book was well received and sold throughout the country and it also received good reviews.

Another project that started this year was the NSS Institute for Civil Services in Thiruvananthapuram. The NSS leadership gave me a free hand to plan and execute the project and it is going well.
Lekha has been busy running a Karuna Short Stay Home for cancer patients and their care givers near the Medical College Hospital. She and her associates have manged to run it and also feed the hungry every week in the Medical College during the year 2011 and expect to do so in the new year also.
In Kerala, the major event was the change of Government. Though the new Government has only a narrow majority, the Government under the immensely popular Shri. Oommen Chandy has been working with vigour. The opposition is also very active. The treasure found at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the dispute over the Mullaperiyar dam attracted world attention. Both the issues need to be tackled with utmost care.
Corruption issues and the Anna Hazare movement engaged national attention throughout the year. The setback to the Hazare movement at the end of the year showed that the general public has reached another level of tolerance of corruption.
In foreign policy, India developed the art of hedging to such an extent that it is difficult to see the direction it is taking. But skilful management of day to day issues is quite visible.
The world is gearing itself for another recession in the wake of the Euro crisis, but Barack Obama seems to be recovering from his loss of approval at the end of the year. Protesters have replaced the terrorists as the news makers this year, but we do not know yet what the protesters will accomplish. The Egyptian and Libyan springs are turning into nightmares already and this may slow down democracy movements elsewhere. Stability may appear more desirable than a chaotic quest for democracy.
2011 was a horrible year for nuclear power. I was personally alarmed by the Fukushima accident as I watched the developments with bated breath. Any such accident can set the clock back on nuclear power for years. It is no point saying that nobody died in Fukushima of radiation or swearing that all other plants are safe. Such arguments carry  no conviction. The world must think how it can move away from dependence on nuclear power one day, however distant that day may be.
All said and done, 2011 was not only a year of fear, but also of hope. Let us sustain the hope in the New Year and build a beautiful 2012.


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