Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year Wishes and Thoughts

New Year Wishes and Thoughts 2017


Gone are the days when, at the dawn of the New Year, we had colorful cards with well scripted lines to decorate our homes and carefully crafted letters to share news and thoughts to strengthen the bonds of friendship and love. Now inboxes are flooded with mass produced pictures and videos, effortlessly forwarded over different platforms. I am sticking to the old method of wishing you the very best for 2017 with some random news and views. My hope is that all your dreams will come true in the New Year.

Humanity has come to terms with technological innovations disturbing our comfort zones to cause game changing disruptions. But 2016 showed that disruptive changes will be brought about as much by politics, philosophy and practices as by technology. We have realized that the genie of technology cannot be put back in the bottle to confine it to some spaces. Its all-encompassing reach has changed every narrative, political, social, cultural, literary and philosophical.

Establishments have crumbled everywhere as the storm of protests over failed expectations rage. People have begun to leap into the dark in the hope of securing better days. Democracy itself has lost its sheen, though it is through democratic means that regimes are changing. As globalization recedes, nativism and ultra-nationalism have begun to assert themselves. The world may eventually become a better place, but the pangs of a rebirth will take its toll. We should be prepared for a period of uncertainty and adjustment ahead before new establishments take shape. Trying to stem the tide of history will be futile.

On the family front, we have been fortunate enough to have glad tidings throughout from all, except for some mobility issues for Lekha, which have not dampened her spirit or altered her dedication to charity. Both Sree and Roopa went through the turmoil of professional changes, but both of them settled in well in their new surroundings, without disrupting the hectic routines of Durga and Krishna, which includes classical dance for Durga and soccer for Krishna. Sree’s move from the Metropolitan Museum to the City of New York as the Chief Digital Officer has become a case study in courage and use of social media to search for new horizons. Shree and Sharu have also been happy, particularly with the growth and development of Shivaay in Dubai. At three years and six months, Shivaay’s future profession is not yet  determined as his choice has moved so far from chef to musician to police chief to fire chief!

I completed my assignment with the Kerala Government, but I am still engaged in teaching and international studies, with even less spare time than before as my written and spoken words are still in demand at home and abroad. My policy is to answer the phone when it rings, not knowing when it will stop ringing.

Friends walk in and walk out of our lives, particularly when we change countries and continents frequently. But the few that remain and the new ones that get added are a blessing. The year 2016 also had its losses and gains. Amazing game changing friendships also came my way. The way of preserving relationships is to build bridges across different levels without expecting absolute reciprocity.

An untoward incident of January 29, 2016 when I learnt the value of turning the other cheek to those who do not know what they do has made me better, not bitter. I was taking on the sins of others as some of the controversial issues such as involving a business group at an exorbitant cost in the Global Education Meet and proposals for Academic Cities and Higher Education Zones were not mine. But I was disheartened by the resistance to change, disloyalty and lethargy in the Government, which inhibit the full realization of Kerala’s potential. Every negative action turns the clock back for us. Educational reform will come to Kerala, like computers, too little too late. Happily, many ideas of reform, rejected in Kerala, find place in the national agenda. My idea of a totally liberal education without constraints tallies with the thinking in Delhi.

The Kerala International Centre (KIC) is not just my second home, but a part of my home itself. It has created a small group of people, not only diplomats, journalists and Generals, but also others, who have a sustained interest in foreign policy. We meet, we argue and differ, but even consensus breaks out occasionally. A new KIC initiative to launch a Literary Forum was much appreciated. Several poets, some established and some making their debut, made an impact. We expect a healthy competition between strategic thinking and literature in the KIC in future.

The NSS Academy of Civil Services (NACS), which I now direct, has made a mark by sending several of its alumni to the Civil Services. Some Districts in Kerala are administered by our alumni and some missions abroad are manned by them.

Many of you have sent messages of goodwill and good wishes in various forms. This is by way of acknowledging and reciprocating all of them. Let us hope that our paths will cross in the New Year, at least in cyber space.

Lekha joins me in wishing you a happy New Year and beyond.

January 1, 2017

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