Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Cheddi Jagan was Guyana's most important freedom fighter. Born in a modest peasant family, Jagan went to study medicine in USA. During the stay there, he had done all kinds of odd jobs to sustain himself. After his return, he plunged into politics in Guyana. He started defending workers' rights and joined the trade union movement and then joined full time politics working for the independence from Britain.He won the elections in the pre-independance period. But the British conspired to keep him out of power. Firstly, they used their standard divide and rule policy by encouraging divisions and rivalries between the Afro-Guyanese and the Indo-Guyanese. Secondly they branded him as a communist threat to Guyana and the region. This way they got the support of the Americans to prevent communism taking hold in the region particularly after the experience of Cuba. The British and Americans imposed a proportional representation system on Guyana to prevent Jagan and his party from getting majority. Jagan asked them why did they not have the same system if it was good for Guyana.
Eventually Jagan managed to overcome all the internal and external challenges and become the President of Guyana in 1992 for five years till his death in 1997.
Jagan's struggle is similiar in many ways to the Indian struggle for independence from the same British. The only difference was that Guyana being a smaller and weaker country, suffered more.
It is true, Jagan was a fellow traveller. But anyone in his position had to be one, given the Guyanese situation. Most of the Guyanese were poor and exploited under the colonial rule. The population of Guyana consists of AfroGuyanese who were former slaves and the indians who were former bonded labourers. With this kind of electorate, it was logical to seek social justice through leftist path.On top of it, Guyana's natural and mineral resources and the sugar and mining industry were controlled by British, American and foreign companies for whom their profit was more important than Guyanese development.It was the job of the political leaders to demand a fair share of their earnings. Even today, Guyana remains as one of the poorest countries in the region, despite vast land, water, natural and mineral resources.
Janet Jagan, the American wife of Cheddi Jagan had also worked shoulder to shoulder at all levels of Guyanese politics. She shared the same ideology and commitment of her husband to the upliftment of the Guyanese.
Jagan has published other books covering regional and global issues.
But the title of this autobiography " The west on trial" does not seem to be appropriate. It was the west which put him on trial. But at the bottom of the cover page it is written " My fight for Guyana's freedom" . This should have been the title.
While Jagan has been understandably extra critical of his political opponents, his book gives a vivid account of the struggle of Guyana and the manipulation of the external forces.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This Mexican film in Spanish ( released in 2004 ) is about the cruel and bloody civil war in El Salvador and is based on a real life story.
Chava, the eleven year old boy is caught in the crossfires of bullets, killings and destruction. After his father escapes to USA, little Chava is designated by his mother as the Man of the House. He has to dodge bullets everyday in the streets, school and has to be back home before the curfew. His friends, when they reach the age of 12 are snatched away by the soldiers for conscription. No one is safe. The soldiers kidnap young girls from the streets and kick and kill parish priest. The little sweetheart of Chava, whom he describes as the only girlfriend is also killed by the soldiers. After having seen so much of death and inhumanity Chava, alongwith his friends join the guerillas. They get caught and all his friends are shot and killed, while he escapes miraculously. His mother and the rest of the family who are on the run from the soldiers and guerillas finds him back in the old house which has been set on fire and destroyed. Chava is sent to USA to escape the violence of El Salvador.
Carlos Padillo who has acted as Chava and Leonor Varela, the Chilean actress who acts as the mother of Chava have given their heart and soul to their characters.
Luis Mandoki, the Mexican director of the film has made the film as poignant and profundly moving. He has handled the brutal violence and loss of innocence of children delcately. It is a serious film, without any distraction. No comedy or sex scenes. The film is focussed solely on the theme and brings alive the sufferings of the people of El Salvador.
One of the best Latino films i have seen so far.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
She is with the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Port of Spain. Her work includes design, development and execution of training and consultancy programmes for Public / Private Sector & Non-Governmental Organizations within Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean Region.
As a facilitator, Ms. Harrylal has planned and implemented training programmes in the areas of marketing, marketing research, advertising, consumer behaviour, human resource management, organizational behaviour, communication.
She has published many articles on a variety of management related topics such as logistics management, project management, performance management, change management, international marketing, international business issues. Her research articles are sought after by a leading network of business captains locally and internationally. She is particularly interested in researching geo-political and geo-economic emerging business issues.
I was impressed by her articles on India and China.
In May 2007 about 30 mexican management graduates are expected to join an IIM for a six months course.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Here is the Reuters news item....needs no explanation or commentary.
Brazilian town's free Viagra gives elderly a boost
BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) -- The mayor of a small Brazilian town has begun handing out free Viagra, spicing up the sex lives of dozens of elderly men and their partners.
"Since we started the free distribution of sexual stimulants, our elderly population changed. They're much happier," said Joao de Souza Luz, the mayor of Novo Santo Antonio, a small town in the central state of Mato Grosso.
Souza Luz said 68 men over the age of 60 already had signed up for the program, which was approved by the town's legislature and has been dubbed "Happy Penis," or "Pinto Alegre" in Portuguese.
But the program also has had the unforeseen consequence of encouraging some extramarital affairs, Souza Luz said.
"Some of the old men aren't seeking out their wives. They've got romances on the side," he said.
Addition: During Carnaval, the government of Brazil distributes millions of condoms free of cost at the parades !
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
It is about the student uprising in Mexico in october 1968. A middle class family is caught in the tragedy of the brutal suppression of the student unrest. The family lives in Tlateloloco in Mexico city and witnesses the tragic clampdown on student protests in the Plaza de tres culturas. The two college going boys of the family are idealistic and passionate about the struggle for justice and jump into the student movement. The father, a civil servant and the housewife- mother try to calm them down, while the grandfather, a retired military officer takes care of the smaller children. The government anxious to prevent the unpleasantness of student protest on the eve of the olympics to be hosted by mexico, is determined to put an end to the student stir. The military and police get into brutal action shooting at the student crowd and killing and injuring many. They follow it up with breaking into houses and arresting and beating up students and teachers. They break into the house of this particular family and discover students hiding there. They kill the whole family and the hiding students ruthlessly.
The movie flows naturally without hype or drama, like a documentary but with a powerful impact. The movie is said to be accurate about what happened.
The film brings back vividly the memory of Tlatelolco Massacre of 2 October 1968, one of the saddest days in Mexican history. This is what actually happened. The Mexican students joined the worldwide protests and the political unrest in 1968. After nine weeks of protests, the students took out a march on 2 October, ten days before the Mexican Olympics. The security forces killed and wounded hundreds of students on that fateful day. In june 2006, Echeverria, who was president in 1968 was charged for genocide, but nothing came of it.
Of course, worse things happened in some other latin American countries under military dictatorship. Still it is a scar and a stain in recent mexican history. Octavio Paz , who was ambassador in in India at that time resigned in protest.
The director of the film Jorge Fans has shown courage besides artistic talents in making this film which was released in 1989. I also liked his other film " Midaq Alley", which also takes up a similiar bold theme.
One of the best Mexican films..
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Port of Spain city
Reaching Trinidad and Tobago from Guyana, I was struck by the stark contrast. While Guyana is a poor country trying to set up a traffic light system for the first time, T and T is affluent all the way. The highways, skyscrapers, luxury hotels, elegant houses with manicured lawns, tarffic jam caused by the huge increase in number of cars, the stylish MaxiTaxis with red band and shops filled with goodies... speak for the prosperity. The 11000 US dollars of per capita income is the highest in the region. Even the villages are prosperous with modern houses, good roads and all the basic amenities.
Port of Spain, the capital has lot of greenery. The Queen's park in the heart of the city is green,very large and well maintained. The hills provide a great view of the city and the sea.
The music scene is vibrant with steel band, chutney music and calypso. The Trinians are proud of their Carnival, the much anticipated event in February-march.
The Indian community tries to preserve and follow the traditional culture and rituals. The Hindu houses fly colorful flags honouring different deities. Dalpuri is a staple diet as in the other diaspora countries.
Pictures of the trip http://picasaweb.google.com/viswanathanifs
Thursday, November 09, 2006
With this experience i started reading The Eagle's Throne hesitantly. I was in for a surprise. I enjoyed the book thoroughly. It is a political novel about the six-year cycle of mexican politics, starting with the assumption of power by the new president who gets one single non-reelectable six year term. As soon as the President is elected the conspiracies start for getting into his shoes for the next term. King makers, cabinet ministers and officials start the game of promoting and spoiling the chances of potential candidates by resorting to any means including sex,money, defamation,flattery and blackmail. For anyone who wants to understand Mexican politics, this book is the ideal guide.
Carlos Fuentes has brought out the character of mexican politicians so vividly with biting sarcasm and striking punch lines. Fuentes has filled the novel with a complete cast of characters including congressmen and druglords, lovers and mistresses, noble minded statesmen and corrupt politicians and senators and lowly clerks. He has included historical details and characters.
Fuentes has told the whole story in the form of letters from one character to another.
It starts with the letter of Maria del Rosario Galvan, the queen of politics, who starts grooming the young Nicolas Valdivia as the next President and succeeds in achieving her goal. she uses sex, seduction and blackmail so matter of factly, dispassionately and is candid about this with her adversaries and admirers. She weaves a series of schemes including sending Valdivia to get lessons and secrets from an ex-president retired playing dominoes in vera cruz. Tacito de canal, the chief of staff of the president controls access to the President and implements his orders even before the boss issues them..anticipatory compliance.
It is an extraordinary novel with suspense and thrill added to spice up the real life mexican political story.
I am going to read more books by him now.
Fuentes has quoted a mexican bolero..which has become my favourite one
No me preguntas mas
que no existe el pasado
y que nacimos
el mismo instante
en que nos conocimos
dont ask me more
let me imagine that
there was no past
we were born
at the same same time
as we met
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I talked about the "manana" culture and magical realism of Latamerica which have also influenced the management culture. There are, of course ,variations of bz and management culture depending upon the country, region ( Rio and sao paulo- so different) altitude( hill people different from the costenos), and ethnic groups ( lebanese, japanese, germans, italians...)
In my meetings with the Director, Dean and Prof Abraham( who has come back from trip to Latamerica),they showed interest in student exchanges, faculty and research cooperation and organising India programmes in Latin America and vice versa. These exchanges would add a business management dimension to the growing relations between India and Latin america. They remembered an alumni , Rakesh vaidyanathan,who is in Brazil in the business of promoting business between India and latin America.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
It is about the dictatorship of Trujillo in Dominican Republic( DR). The story starts with Urania who returns after 30 yrs in newyork to visit her father Cabral,who was the senate leader during the dictatorship. The meeting with her father brings back the memories of the atrocities of Trujillo, who ran the country like his personal ranch and ruthlessly suppressed any opposition by indiscriminate assasinations. He humilitates Cabral, when he gives his opinion, which is not to the liking of Trujillo. The desperate senator sends his teenage daughter to Trujillo's fiesta. She discovers on arrival at Trujillo's ranch that she is the only guest invited for the party with him. Trujillo humiliates the daughter too. The movie ends with the assasination of Trujillo and the bloodbath which follows it.
The movie refers to the killing of the famous three Mirabel sisters by Trujillo. Julia Alvarez has written a novel on this,called as" In the time of butterflies".
what a coincidence ! I met the daughter of one of the three sisters( maria Teresa) in the party hosted by the Ambassador of Dom Republic yesterday. There was also the fourth sister, Dede, who was lucky to survive the killings. It was an emotional meeting with them. They have promised to convey my Saludos to Julia Alvarez... and extend my invitation to her to visit India.
The film, released in 2005, was shot in DR and partly in Spain.
The director Luis Llosa from Peru is a cousin of the writer Mario vargas Llosa.
Isabella Rosselini who has acted as Urania is an Italian and a Lancome model.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Palas Athena, a NGO from Sao Paulo has been disseminating Gandhiji's ideals in Brazil seriously and sincerely. They have been organising week-long celebrations of Gandhi Jayanthi for the last 25 yrs. Not just by way of garlanding the statue or formal speeches.They go to street children, teachers, schools, NGOs and police besides intellectuals with community activities. They inculcate in young minds the spirit of non-violence and peace.
here is the report I have got from Lia Diskin, the director of Palas Athena about this year's 2 oct activity.
"We are still intoxicated by the 25th Gandhi Week. The name is Week but in truth it takes up the month of October as a whole. This year we managed to include some of the 150 activities in 11 of the FEBEM ( juvenile prisons) units of São Paulo. These are places where young law-breakers are kept until they come of age. Our volunteers show a film on Gandhi and then discuss it with the inmates. These experiences have been very good and light up our hopes".
The force behind these Gandhian interest and activities is Lia Diskin, director of Associação Palas Athena. I have the greatest admiration and respect for her selfless public work. She is a true Gandhian in belief and practice both in private and public life.
Palas Athena had organised a Gandhi project with the 80000 police force of sao paulo state in 1998 to calm down the police mind and instill compassion in them.
The auditorium of Palas Athena is named after Mahatma Gandhi. Palas Athena runs a orphanage called as House of Pandavas. They have translated and published the autobiography of Gandhi in Portuguese.
Information on the Gandhian activities of Palas Athena are in www.palasathena.org
Sunday, October 22, 2006
It is about the foot ball obsession of the Brazilians. Julietta's family is a fanatic supporter of Palmeiras team of Sao Paulo and her father is a director of the palmeiras club. She falls in love with Romeu, who is a fan of Corinthians. Julieta advises him to pretend as a Palmirense to get acceptance of her family. But this is rejected by the grand mother of Romeu as a disgrace. Finally Romeu gets the courage to tell his would be father-in-law that he is a Corinthian. This provokes an outrage and Romeu is chased out. But the daughter decides to leave the house and marry Romeu, creating a revolution and a comedy of the outburst of her family.
The film brings out the football fanaticism of Brazilians and the extent to which their life gets overtaken by the game.
The film , released in 2005, has been directed by Bruno Barreto, who has directed several other brazilian movies. His other foot ball film" Bossanova" is also a hilarious comedy.
Sexo, Amor e Traison"- Sex, love and Betrayal is a film about sex. Caution... sex is not an obsession of Brazilians. It is just natural. They do not twist and turn because of sex. Nor does the society has any artificial and hypocritical suppressions. Their approach is humane. They celebrate sex as an essential and enjoyable part of life.
The theme of the movie is universal. Love and sex lose their importance in the course of day to day life of marriage. The story is about two couples in Rio.The wives nag the poor husbands complaining of inadequate attention. The husbands whose primary goal is success in career are unable to cope with this internal attack. At this time of marital crisis, the previous boyfriends and girlfriends appear, adding to the complication. Both couples take to adventurous diversions. Finally they reunite with happy ending. These give an idea of what happens in real life in Brazil. There is sex beyond love and love beyond sex !
Jorge Fernando, director of this film ( release- 2004), has directed many Brazilian soap operas.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The Peruvian army captain Pantaleon Pantoja, a very serious and efficient officer, is chosen by his superiors to set up a special service of 'visitors' to satisfy the sexual needs of the soldiers posted on remote jungle outposts in Amazon area. The young married captain, faithful to his wife and disciplined militarily and morally, does not like the work but agrees to carry out his duty. He puts his organisational talents to work and establishes a system of visitors in a typical military disciplined way. He tells his wife that he is doing a secret work.
But his resistance collapses in front of the seductive girl called as " la colombiana" who conquers him finally. Marriage breaks and eventually La Colombiana herself is killed in an accident. Pantoja organises a public mass to mourn the martyrdom of the special visitadora. This becomes a scandal and the army chief puts an end to the visitadora system.
This movie is based on a book by my most favourite Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa.
The Colombian actress Angie Cepeda who acts as "the colombiana" is very striking and charming. She has superbly portrayed her seducing role.
The director of the movie is Francisco Lombardi from Peru. The film was released in 2000.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The theme is Chilean and Latin American.
It is about the turbulent years of the leftist Allende government which had polarised the society violently.
Machuca is a slum kid , given a scholarship by a "red priest" to join the exclusive private English medium school for the rich class. The naive experiment of the American priest does not work. Machuca influences Gonzalo a boy from a rich family and opens his eyes to the poor who survive on the margins of the society and support the leftist revolution of Allende. Gonazalo is torn at home by his fractured family, in the clashes between the rich kids and poor ones at the school and the confrontation between the revolutionaries and reactionaries in the streets. After the overthrow of Allende, the military takes over even the school and throws out the poor kids.
Most of the things depicted in the film actually took place in real life in Chile and in other countries of military dictatorships such as Argentina. For the Chileans it was a nightmare and an aberration in their history. For the non -Chilean audience it gives a glimpse of the turmoil in the society and how it affected even the children.
The film is entertaining too, with its rich and colorful vocabulary of abusive words used by the kids. I was more used to mexican vocabulary. The Chileans are not far behind. The innocence of the kids, their kissing scenes and the selling of flags to rival processionists have been brought out vividly with an emotional and sensitive touch. The kids are charming and endearing with their acting.
Released in 2004, the film was directed by Andres Wood of Chile.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
disappears into the air
appears and disappears
surprising and disappointing
calls me on fone
takes not my calls
sends me email
smile is her response
tempts me with promises
teases me with airkisses
embraces me publicly
eludes me discretely
suave and sweet
aroma of canela
magic is her spell
mystic her appeal
is she the angel?
Is it for real?
oops..I got it now..
miss magical realism
It is a Mexican film shot in Chile by a Peruvian director Ricardo de Montreuil. Barbara Mori, the lead actress was born in Montevideo and has now become a mexican. Christian meier, who acts as the husband is a Peruvian while Manolo Cardona, acting as the the younger brother is Colombian.
After almost 10 years of marriage, the sensual and attractive Zoe( Barbara Mori) discovers that her marriage lacks passion and surprise. She falls for the bohemian painter brother of the husband. It starts innocently but leads to adventurous sex and games. She confides this to her male friend who is gay. Ultimately, she discovers that her husband himself is a closet gay. But he loves her even after knowing her infidelity.
Usual soap opera stuff. But what has made it interesting is the acting by Barbara Mori, who has portrayed the typical Latina character... seeking constantly new experience...adding new dimensions always... sensual, charming, sweet ... adventurous and audacious ...
Saturday, October 14, 2006
The High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago Mr Persad hosted Divali celebrations- Trinidad style on 13 October.
It was an impressive and colourful event held at Uppal Orchid resort Hotel, New Delhi. There was Puja, devotional music and dance, magic show and dinner. No alcohol or meat, as per the Trini custom. And many Trinians undertake fast for a week before Divali. About 10 million Diyas are lighted in T and T on diwali day.
HC Persad is one of the most active and articulate diplomats in delhi.
In my speech, I described T and T as a land of Oil and Gas, Calypso and Carnival, Chutney music and Steel band and Naipaul and Laxmi Mittal.
Why Mittal? because T and T was his launch pad. He acquired his first steel mill in T and T, made his first million and got the confidence. Then he went on to acquire 10 more steel mills around the world, becoming the largest steel producer. He reversed the "East India Company complex" by becoming the richest person in UK and making the europeans afraid of him, when he was bidding to take over Arcelor.
Naipaul's treatment of India in his trilogy of books (India a wounded civilisation, An area of darkness and A million mutinies ) has provoked some Indians mutiny against him. I am not among them. Many of the comments of Naipaul are valid and the Indians need to reflect on them. Nirad Chaudhry and Pawan Varma have also pointed out the defects in the Indian mindset and society which need to be consciously corrected. But there is hope. If Naipaul visits the Mysore campus of Infosys, he will certainly celebrate the emerging new Indian mindset.
Both Mittal and Naipaul are success stories of Indians outside India. While Mittal has elevated the self esteem of Indians, Naipaul, through his criticism has provoked the Indians to think.
T and T is the most energetic ( so much of oil and gas), prosperous( highest per capita in the region- 13000 US $ ) , powerful country in caribbean. T and T could be the gateway for Indian business to enter the caribbean region. Essar is building a steel plant with an investment of 1.2 billion dollars.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
But the story of Isabel and Francisco is what is spinning in the head of the writer Alma in Vermont. Pressed by her literary agent, she stumbles into a writer's block and is unable to transfer the story from her mind to a book. Her husband Richard goes on a thirdworld project in Dominican Republic, gets caught in a hostage situation. Alma rushes to her native land, manages to get into the house where Richard is hostage. But he is killed in the shoot-out, while she is saved, to carry the memory of her last meeting with him.
The Dominican insecurity in an alien American land is portrayed vividly in this as in the other novels. Added to that is the insecurity caused by a dying Helen in the neighbourhood. Watching closely someone die slowly is a traumatic experience. And there is the other insecurity arising from the undefined love to her husband. It is a second marriage. Richard is more like a protector and she is like a dependent needing to be taken care by him. It is not classical romance. But it is a mutually needed, comfortable and reinforcing relationship. It is not the young love flying over the clouds touching the moon. It is a late love making the mutual dependency adding meaning to the lives of the companions.
I see a clear transition and journey from Dominican Republic-centred first novels of Julia Alvarez " In the time of butterflies " and the delightful "Yo". While the native land is the root in this story too, there is more exploration and experience in the undefined alien land of United States with undefined emotions and relations ....
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Reason for this proud smile of Ambassador Rogelio- the music and dance group performing here is from his native Veracruz. Felicitaciones Embajador for one more succesful event.
Thanks to his hyperactiveness, mexico is raining on India almost every week with business delegations, parliamentarians, mariachis, musicians, chefs....
The mexican Embassy is organising this latest food festival at Kafe Fontana in Taj Palace Hotel, delhi. The last mexican food festival was held only last month.
Monica Patino is the chef from mexico. She is also author, teacher and restaurateur.
on 12 Oct at 1900 hrs there is also screening of a mexican film "recipes to stay together" at Taj palace. What a title!
This reminds me of the film Como agua para chocalate- like water for the chocolate, a delightful film about Mexican cuisine and tradition.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I joined Latin America and Caribbean Division in sept 2004, at the same time when Senora Shashi Tripathi took over as Secretary ( west). She is leaving the Ministry shortly,after a distinguished career of 36 yrs. I hosted the lunch in her honour at Taj Mahal Hotel Hotel, New Delhi. Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls of the region and CII and FICCI attended the lunch.
Highlights of my speech:
- In the past relations with the region were described by some as " casual flings, occasional flirtations and one-night stands".
- Now the relations have moved to a romantic stage. Even PM Manmohan Singh could not resist the magic of latin America. he said in his press conference in Brasilia, " I am leaving part of my heart behind". Many other delegates also have left their hearts there. My follow-up action is to visit Brazil to bring back those.
-In the past there was a different mind-set. ... jokes
- The ground realities were different in the past. "magical realism" in latin america and "mythical realism" in India.
- But now the realities have changed. Both latin America and India have undergone pardigm shift and have become attractive to each other now.
- In the past two two years, we intensified our engagement with the region like never before. We handled about 40 incoming and outgoing visits at various levels and reached out to countries such as Bolivia, guatemala, Dominican republic and El Salvador.
- Our economic diplomacy in partnership with CII, FICCI and the bz paid off. Our trade reached 6.2 billion dollars in 2005. The largest-ever bz delegation from India went to latin america earlier this month.
- A promising longterm partnership between latin america and India will flourish in the coming years, built on the new paradigms of the two sides and new mindset.
We said, Gracias Senora Tripathi for your leadership and support ! and wished her long healthy and acive life beyond foreign service. And gave her a latino tip... " we dont stop having fun when we grow old... we become old only when we stop having fun!!!"
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I was invited to talk about business in the CII meeting with the Mexican Minister of Small Scale Industries and his business delegation. As usual, i strayed into businessplus and talked about love and labyrinth in the relations between the two countries. I said,
-Octovio Paz 's first experience in India was a cultural shock. After landing in Bombay in 1951 he walked around in Bombay streets and was overwhelmed by the crowd, color, noise and smell. He wrote " The excess of reality in India ...made it appear unreal" . I call this as the encounter between the "magical realism" of latin america and the "mythical realism" of india.
-He came back and stayed in India as Ambassador from 1961 to 68. He travelled extensively in India and wrote poems on kanyakumari, madurai and Lodhi gardens. His poetic work "tale of two gardens" compares India and Mexico as two gardens. In this, he concludes " the strangeness of India reminded me of the other strangeness of Mexico"-I have been reading a book of his for the last six months, unable to complete it. U will understand if i tell the title..... " Labyrinth of solitude ". It is about mexican character and identity. I got lost in the Mexican labyrinth, confused as to which labyrinth is more complex and confusing, Indian or Mexican?
- But despite the labyrinth, confusion and excess reality, Octavio Paz found one thing in India..love. He fell in love with marie jose and married her under the neem tree in his prithviraj residence in delhi. She became his second wife.
- There is a latino saying, " wife brings success .... and sucess brings the second wife and more women " That is how Octavio Paz got his second wife... and so did Vincente Fox, the President of Mexico !!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Mexican food is somewhat spicy and hot. Burritos, quesadillas, Enchilladas, tortillas, tacos, moles,tamales, chillies, pickled jalapenos.. goes with Corona beer and tequila.
Last week there was a Mariachi group which performed in Ashoka hotel.
There was a delegation of parliamentarians from the state of Jalisco. They were keen to know how India deals with issues of poverty, diversity and autonomy of states.
And there are two business delegations including the one lead by the Minister of Small scale industries.
The credit for these intense activities goes to Ambassador Rogelio. He is promising even more ...in the coming months.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
- Radio Gazetta. This is a FM radio playing Brazilian music. As soon as i get into a car or taxi I tune to this favourite station. One of the reasons i got attached to this station was that the station is located just in front of the Consulate I established in 1996. The steps of the entrance to the Gazeta building is the best vantage point to sit and watch people.
- Cafe. In Brazil cafe means more than coffee. It is culture, conversation and colour( of the skin of people). cafezinho is an affectionate dimunitive for a small cup..but strong.
-Churasscaria. This is the typical barbecue restaurant offering varieties of unlimited quantitity of meat and a large buffet to be enjoyed leisurely.
- Chhop. This is light draft beer which keeps conversation going for hours without getting drunk. Every street corner has a chopperia, besides beach fronts and bars.
- Caipirinha. This is cane liquor with lemon and sugar. So sweet and easy to drink and easy to forget the number of pegs and get intoxicated.
-Pao de queijo. This is a little ball of cheese bread. It goes with cafe, as a snack and with dinner,lunch and breakfast.
-Feijoada. This heavy meal with all parts of the meat like a stew and black beans is for weekend or wednesday lunch.
-Livraria cultura. This is a bookshop in Conjunto Nacional building in Avenida Paulista. The best collection of books of Brazil, Latin America and in English language too.
-FNAC bookshop next to the consulate has a cafe besides books and music.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The 50 plus business delegation from India discovered the opportunities for business and complementarities of the markets. First time, such a large delegation has ever visited Brazil. The presidents of CII and FICCI as well as Vice president of Assocham were there in the first IBSA bz summit on 12 sept, along with Brasilian and South African bzmen. Agribusiness and food processing was one of the areas identified for two-way flow of investment and technology with Brazil.
The first IBSA ( India Brazil South Africa) summit took place on 13 sept. This tricontinental partnership ( cafe- with- milk alliance !!! ) of the three large pluralistic democracies and vibrant economies is set to become a formidable force. The trade betweem them is poised to reach the 10 billion dollar target set in 2004.
The Goan pop singer Remo Fernandez entertained the IBSA audience on 12 sept with his Goan, portuguese and Hindi songs and got some to the dance floor. This was organised by India Brand Equity Foundation CEO Ajay Khanna.
In the meeting of the Prime Minister with Brazilian intellectuals and cultural personalities on 13 sept, Ana Christina announced her project for a Indo- Brazilian coproduction of a film. This is based on Indrani Chakravarthy's novel "Tamarind". Part of the film shooting will be done in Goa. Another Brazilian producer is also keen to shoot a film in India. Monika Petrocelli talked about her consultancy introducing Yogasutras in management. She has earlier worked with Price waterhouse. She studied Indian philosophy in Calcutta for two years. The Brazilian economists compared the developmental experience of the two countries.
The last event was the dinner on the boat in the lake by Ambassador Puri. The credit for raising the profile of Brazil in India goes to him.
I am thrilled with the success of the visit, which has opened the minds of Indian policy makers, business and media stimulating their interest in Latin America and in the business opportunities in the region.
Many male delegates are also leaving their heart behind... I saw their eyes popping out, going up and down and sideways. Their mouths were open and saliva was flowing profusely. They were incoherent and giddy and speechless. You guessed it ....This was the effect of the young Brazilian interpreters whose maxi smiles and mini skirts floored the delegates. No wonder they needed interpretation all the time !!!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I liked it for its theme, depiction of Chilean character and Patagonia where the action takes place.
It is about a war which was about to erupt between Chile and Argentina in 1978, over a border dispute in Patagonia in the south. The Chilean patrol of five soldiers sent to the border loses its compass and gets lost in the vast arid expanse of patagonia. They come across an Argentinian platoon and they become friends, although the Chilean soldiers had taken the oath to kill five Argentinians each. They help each other in the cold and windy emptiness of Patagonia and, no surprise, play football. Fortunately the war is averted but the news does not reach the platoon in time, since the battery of their communication equipment is down. The nervous Chileans kill an Argentinian, who helped them. The hero of the Platoon comes back and takes his comrades to the bar where his girlfriend works. She turns him off when he tries to kiss her in front of his friends. Ni un besito... not even a kiss. no medal ... no money... comments the poor soldiers.. fodder in war and politics.
The human side of the war is touching. They are caught between the patriotic and militaristic beliefs and the warmth and friendship of the soldiers on the other side. The film brings out the rivalry between the Argentinians and Chileans, which plays out in contemporary forms. They tease each other over tango, football and meat.
The Patagonia scenes are breathtaking. The unique play of light and colours at sunset and sunrise have been captured in the film.
The last song in the film
"solo lo pido adios ( i just want to say bye) ..... is touching.
The film, released in 2005 is a coproduction of Chile with Argentina and Spain and directed by Alex Bowen.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
El Padrecito ( little father ) by Cantinflas and
El crimen del padre Amaro(the crime of Father Amaro) of Gael Garcia Bernal
In El Padrecito, Cantinflas( Mario Morena ) is at his usual comical best.It is the story of a young father who tries innovative non-holy approches to solve problems of his flock. He fights the bull when the Matador does not turn up for the show. He outsmarts the local hood who terrorises the community. This is one of the best films of Cantinflas.
The crime of father Amaro is about a newly ordained priest who succumbs to the temptation of the body and falls in love with a 16-year old girl who has unholy fantasies in the middle of her holy pursuits. The combination of holy rituals and the rituals of courting and sex is amusing. She gets pregnant and wants to marry but the priest is married only to the church. He takes her for an abortion, where she dies. The girl is the daughter of the mistress of the older father. There is another priest who joins the people's movement against the drug lords and is ex-communicated.
The film is based on a 19th century novel of Esa de Queiros of Mexico.
The controversy created by the obviously angry reaction of the Mexican church made the movie the highest money spinner in Mexico.
" Latin America's political economy of the possible - Beyond good revolutionaries and Free Marketeers"
I finished this book of 250 pages quickly in two days. Two reasons: The analysis and assessment of the trend of political economy of the region by the author are the same as mine. Secondly I was going fast to see if the author has any discoveries and illuminations which would be new to me. I did not come across anything dramatic except for new economic jargons such as "consolidology"and "transitology". He has also quoted Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz , who have , of course, made some profund and thought-provoking statements on the Latin American situation.
Here are the conclusions of the author:
- The region is moving away from economic "magical realism" that plots miraculous and impossible solutions.
- There is the emergence of "Possibilism" and gradualistic policies.
- Even those committed to monolithic ideologies, after coming to power, have taken the path of seeking pragmatic and pluralistic solutions. The Chicago Boys of Chile conceived socialistic policies, while Lula of the left pursued market-friendly policies. Fernando Henrique, former president of Brazil and one of the Gurus of Dependency theory opened up the market and pursued conservative macroeconomic policies.
- Chile, Brazil and Mexico are the three shining role models of moderation and non-dogmatism, influencing the policy makers in the rest of the region.
- Argentina set a negative example by its rush into neoliberalism and paying an enormous political, economic and social cost for the folly.
The author has been diplomatic about the Bolivarian Revolution of President Chavez, which goes against the trend in the rest of the region. He has also touched only the positive aspects of instituitional anchoring of Mexico in NAFTA, without going into the other side.
I share the author's conclusion that the region has undergone profund transformation consolidating democracy and instituitions. He is also optimistic about the future of Latin America, as I am.
The author is a OECD economist. The publisher is MIT. Published in 2006.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
In my talk, I took the audience beyond the markets and behind the statistics. I talked about the people, their colour and mindset and the synergies between their core competence and convergence of their aspirations.
IBSA is a "cafe -con- leite" ( coffee- with- milk ) alliance. The people of the three countries have the common coffee- with- milk skin color. some have more milk and others have less!. In Brasil, cafe and milk have mixed historically blending beautifully in a spectrum from blonde to dark. Brazil has more people of African origin than South Africa's 47 million population. In India it is premixed and cafe and milk is not available separately. In South Africa, it is still separately served. This opened up opportunity to tell some jokes...
The mindset of these three countries have undergone a paradigm shift in recent years. In India the bz mindset has changed from the "Fear of East India company" to the " Pride of Mittal steel". The Brazilians have become confident and assertive on the basis of their solid democracy and sound economy and regional leadership. South Africans have given pride and dignity to Africa. It is this new mindset of the three peoples which have lead to the IBSA partnership. This would not have been possible under the old mindset , even ten years ago.
The USP of India is IT and human resources. IT has empowered India and the Indians. It has ignited young Indians to nurture audacious ambitions to connect and compete with the world and even think of conquering. USP of Brasil is Agribusiness. With vast areas of fertile land and water resources Brazil is set to become an agri superpower. The USP of South Africa is mining. If there is one country which is most loved by Indian women.. it is south africa.. so much gold and diamonds!! Of course, the Indian men will vote for Brazil... some more jokes...oops can't be put here.
The seminar was chaired by Mr Arjun Sengupta. The other speakers included Dr Nagesh of RIS, Vishwanath of CII and Veena Jha of Unctad. It was organised by CII as a curtain raiser before the IBSA summit in Brasilia on 13 Sept 06.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The book will be ready in December. This is going to be the first book about modern India in Portuguese language. The timing of the book project coincides with the growing interest in India among the Brazilian corporates and business leaders. It will provide food to the thoughts of Brazilian intellectuals and political leaders who are fascinated by the paradigm shift in India. Brazilian newspapers and magazines, including Playboy Brazil ( separate blog report on this ) have carried reports and analysis on this in recent times. A group of Brazilian economists visited India earlier this year to study the new economy.
Patricia has already written a book on China. She works as a journalist with Estado de Sao Paulo, the second largest newspaper of Brazil. Her reports on India will appear in the newspaper in the coming days.
India Brand Equity Foundation, under CEO Ajay Khanna, is sponsoring Patricia's trip. I hosted a lunch for her and introduced her to business and Indian media.
I cautioned Patricia to be prepared for the challenges of the third world part of India. Her reply
" Sorria... Voce esta na Bahia"- which means "Smile ... you are in bahia ( northeastern state of Brazil)". This is Brazilian culture, attitude and spirit! Smile at the bright side of things, have fun and enjoy.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
In real life, Garcia was born in Cuba, emigrated to USA after the Bay of Pigs and started off life as dishwasher. That is what happens in the film also.
Fico ( Garcia) is the owner of the "Tropical" night club in Havana. One of his brothers join the conspiracy against Batista dictatorship and gets killed by the regime. The other brother joins the revolutionary group of Fidel Castro but after Fidel comes to power, gets disillusioned and commits suicide. The parents of Fico, who did not take the revolution seriously in the beginning, decide to stay put after the revolution but insist that Fico should get out of Cuba and go to USA. Fico falls in love with his sister-in-law after the death of his brother but she refuses to go with him to USA, dedicating herself to the cause of the revolution. This is the real life story of thousands of Cubans.
With the end of the Fidel Castro era nearing, the the film evokes a nostalgic and romantic part of the revolution while at the same time bringing out the other realities of the revolution impacting on the life of cubans. Which way will Cuba go after Castro? Will it implode like the Soviet union or open up gradually like Vietnam and China?
The film is enriched by the exuberant Cuban music and dance.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The story takes place in Clipperton Island, a tiny and isolated and uninhabited piece of island, off the Pacific coast of Mexico. The only inhabitants are crabs moving on mounds of bird droppings. The island is surrounded by corals and sharks. The heat of the sun, the noise of the waves and the stink of the bird droppings make the island uninhabitable. There is no shade, shelter or plants or animals.
Capt Arnaud, an indisciplined military officer is sent to the island as governor. He lands with his wife Alicia and a dozen soldiers and their families. The only other inhabitant is Schultz, a half- German, managing collection and shipment of bird droppings for use as fertiliser. Even this stops after more profitable sources are found elsewhere.
Capt Arnaud and his people start life from a scratch in the island like Robinson Crusoe. Initially it is adventurous. But when the supply ship does not come, they run out of food and water. The fight for survival starts. The hurricane and tidal waves wipe away the hutments and stored materials. The hunger and misery turns people into animals. Diseases makes people ugly and unbearable. Deprivation leads to delirium. Even Capt Arnauld goes mad and perishes while chasing an imaginary ship.
Amidst the misery, there springs love and romance. Arnaud and Alicia discover each other. Heroism and pride takes over hearts and minds even when there is utter hopelessness. When an American ship offers rescue, capt Arnaud and his people refuse to go, abandoning their patriotic duty to protect the Mexican territory. But the Mexican military and administration is caught in a turmoil and forget the little useless island and the wretched inhabitants. Through all the adversity Alicia maintains her dignity, balance and wedding dress. At the end, only the fittest survive. Who were the fittest? Of course the women. Five of them survive while all men perish. Ang there is one more survivor... a black man. But he is killed by the women when he starts tormenting them.
A remarkable story, which stirs the soul.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The film is about the sex lives of four pairs of different ages. There is the teenage girl who drags her boyfriend to a motel, anxious to lose virginity. Two twenty five-plus singles come together after having gone through their own separate pursuits for the perfect mate unsuccessfully. The ego of the girl takes over in the encounter and sex is discarded to the disappointment of the poor guy who has tried every trick. The third pair in the late thirties end up fighting at every opportunity. The wife nags and nags... You dont talk... You dont care.... nagging and fighting overtakes sex. The last couple are over fifty. The man does not feel like. The wife wont give up. She drags him to try viagra. But the guy would not get down from the car to walk to the pharmacy. No problem.. the wife walks boldly and asks the pharmacist for the best variety. But at the height of action, the man collapses with a heart attack.
It is a hilarious comedy. But it is the reality and typical approach to sex and relationship in Latin America.
The movie, produced in 2005 is directed by Frank Perez Garland. This is his first feature film. Story and script are his own. This is the second film for producer Fabrizio Aguillar. Main actress is Vanessa Saba and actor Paul Vega.
Peruvian cinema industry is still young, having started in the late seventies. Francisco Lombardi and Chicho Duran are the other promising directors.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I was taken aback when Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, invited me for dinner at his residence, at the end of our meeting in his office on 10 August 2006. I was aware of his unconventional and informal style and casual dressing. Still, I was surprised by his hosting a dinner in my honour at short notice, on the same evening after our meeting.
He had invited his Vice President and a Minister also for the dinner besides our Ambassador Warjiri, who has established a personal rapport with him. The food was simple, as was his personality. His dress was casual in office and at home. His striped red colour sweater has become a trade mark and is a best seller in the market. Sparks appeared in his face whenever football was mentioned. He plays even now and had broken his nose last week during a game.
Evo Morales is keen to learn and adopt to the contemporary affairs. He is not fanatic or extremist as portrayed in the western media. His agenda is basically domestic. As the first native Indian to be elected as the President, he is sincere and commited to his historic responsibilty to uplift the lives of the Indians, who form sixty five percent of the population. This is true of many of his cabinet colleagues and party members. They have formed a new constituent assembly to draw up a new constituition to protect the rights and dignity of Indians. The president of the Assembly, Sylvia Lazarte, whom i met in Santa Cruz is a crusader for the rights of the indigenous population. She wants to study the Indian constituition and learn from our affirmative action.
As an Indian himself, Evo Morales claimed that India was his second fatherland. He expressed admiration for India and invited Indian companies to enter the Bolivian market which offers opportunities in oil and gas and mining. He has just awarded a 2.3 billion dollar project to Jindal Group for iron ore mining and steel project. El Mutun, the iron ore mine, is one of the largest in the world with a reserve of 40 billion tons. The Bolivians are keen to import from India products such as tractors, mining equipments, agro machinery, defence equipments, helicopters, pharmaceuticals and consumer and industrial products.
I was cautioned about the altitude sickness in La Paz which is 14000 feet above sea level. I had heard stories of a golfer who fell dead in the tenth hole of the Golf course and an Indian Ambassador who collapsed while trying to walk briskly after getting down from the plane. The advice given to me was;
Come poquito, bebe poquito y duerme solito
Eat less. drink less and sleep alone.
Now I know why I did not see smile in the faces of the men in La Paz!!. I survived with a dozen cups of mate de coca ( coca leaf tea ) every day. I guess I would not have passed if there was a doping test. Another advice i had to follow was to walk slowly and avoid any sudden movement.
Ooops.. I had survived to enjoy the Santa Cruz city of Bolivia which is a contrast to La Paz. The advice there was to do more of everything which was denied in La Paz. I was there during the weekend which was buzzing with revellers in the bars and night clubs. Santa Cruz is the commercial and entertainment capital.
I played nine holes at the Las Palmas Golf club. I had lost four balls to the strong wind, which carried them over to houses and water. I dared not go near the water which has two meter-long crocodiles.
Arvind Sharma our Honorary Consul General in Santa Cruz is one of the most active in economic diplomacy. He has extensive contacts at all political and commercial levels and promotes Indian business. He was one of the five hundred Indians who had gone there around 1990 and bought land for agriculture. While a few are still holding land, others have shifted to business or come back to India after not succeding in the agri venture.
My visit to this Inca monument on 6 August 2006, was as inspiring and impressive as I had read and imagined. Built in the fifteenth century, it stands majestic at a height of 8000 feet, surrounded by other mountain peaks around. The serpentine river Urubamba around the base of Machu Pichu is a spectacular view from the monument. The monument consists of temples, terraces, astronomical structures and residences for about 400 inhabitants who were mostly priests and the nobility of the Inca empire. The duality, trinity, worship of sun and moon and a lingam-like structure at the centre of the sanctorum are similar to some of the beliefs and temples of India. But the lingam of the Inca is rectangular unlike the cylindrical one of India.
The emotions evoked by this Inca monument has been aptly described by Pablo Neruda in his poem "Alturas de Machu Pichu",
Machu Pichu es un viaje a la serenidad del alma,
a la eterna fusion con el cosmos
un reposar del mariposas en el epicentro del gran circulo de la vida
allí sentimos nuestra fragilidad.
Machu Pichu is a trip to the serenity of the soul,
to eternal fusion with the cosmos
a resting place of butterflies at the epicentre of the great circle of life
there we feel our own fragility.
The tour package organized from Cusco, the nearest city about 120 kms from Macu Pichu took me by surprise. It is one of the most efficient and pleasant in terms of organization. Cusco city was earlier the Inca capital. The train journey of three hours and forty minutes through mountains, valleys and along the river Urubamba is scenic. The Cusco- Machu Pichu train is a luxury train with glass even on the ceiling to see the steep mountain peaks on both sides of the rail road. The train service is punctual and the service includes entertainment too. There is a fashion show with a female and a male model displaying typical Peruvian dress and the famous Alpaca woolens with modern designs. The costumes are sold thereafter. The passengers are entertained by a local folk dancer. The train stops at the valley below Machu Pichu and there are luxury buses every few minutes shuttling between the valley and the monument. Next to the Machu Pichu station there are over hundred handicraft shops offering colourful and varied pieces, similiar to the Rajasthani ones. One can buy sweaters and shawls made from the wool of Alpaca, the typical mountain goat of Andes. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes to taste the Peruvian delicacies like Ceviche ( raw fish marinated in lime juice ), Pisco Sour the local drink and "Inca Cola" a yellow colour drink which competes with Coca Cola.
From Cusco there is a 200 $ package tour to Machu Pichu. This includes pick up from hotel, train ticket, shuttle bus from tain station to machu Pichu, guide and lunch. value for money !
In Lima I played golf at the Lima Golf Club with Kitri, the son of our Ambassador. He is a champion- material and is going to do Golf management studies in a North Carolina University.
The city of Lima is historic,modern, safe and pleasant to live. I met Viswanathan, the Ranbaxy executive, living there since the last four years. Indian pharma companies do a business of about 15 million dollars per year. The pharma market turnover is about 450 million dollars in the private sector and 200 million of government purchases. Registration of products takes a maximum of three months and cost per product is under 1000 dollars.
The Peru- India Chamber of Commerce, under the guidance of Mr Kishore Gupta, is active in promotion of bz. They plan to bring a delegation to India in November.
The peruvian economy is doing well. There is scope for Indian cos to invest in Petroleum and mining besides exports.
Readers are welcome to visit my album for fotos of Machu Pichu
Thursday, July 27, 2006
by Paul H. Lewis
This book ( published in 2006) gave some clues to my quest to understand the genesis of authoritarian rule in Latin America.
Latin America has been the victim of all kinds of dictaorships and laboratory of political and economic adventures. The continent has suffered dictatorship of Spanish monarchy, local caudillos, military dictators, one-party rule, two-party rule, oligarchic and corporatist regimes, marxist rule and leftist and rightist regimes. Trujillo of Dominican republic, Noriega of Panama and Somoza of Nicaragua epitomised latino dictatorship.
The author has gone into the roots of this authoritarian tendency. It starts off with the mother country Spain, which colonised most of Latin America. At the time of discoveries and colonisation, the Spanish became aggresive, fanatic and intolerant , having come out after seven hundred years of fighting with the Moors. Those Spanish who ventured out to Latin America carried this miltaristic and religious baggage with them. They had grabbed as much land and assets and fought to retain or expand them ruthlessly and had no pity for those who were not of their faith or colour.
Let us not forget that Spain and Portugal were the last dictatorships in Europe under Franco and Salazar till 1975 and 1970 respectively. One could not have expected anything better from their colonies.
One of the reasons for dictatorship and social disequilibrium in Latin America is racial. The only way in which the white colonisers could rule over majority mestizos( mixed blood) and native Indians was through dictatorship. In a democracy they would have lost to majority rule, as it has just happened in Bolivia. Although 65 percent of the Bolivians are native Indians, they were always ruled by a white minority until 2006 when Evo Morales was elected.
The racial factor is illustrated by a decree issued by Francia, the Paraguyan dictator ( called as El Supremo ) in 1814, under which white men were prohibited from marrying white women. Why? because when he fell in love with a white woman, he was rejected by the woman's family on the ground that he had mixed blood. Eventually, he got both the fater-in -law and the husband of his sweetheart killed after tortures.
Cruelty to opponents has remained as a part of the dictorships. The opponents could be from another race, political party or ideology. Thousands of people were jailed, torured, exiled, displaced and killed in the name of national security and ideology. The cruelty reached its height when the Argentine generals threw leftist prisoners from planes into the sea.
Latin America has now come out of military dictatorship and is consolidating the democratic instituitions and values. Although there are still residual authoritarian tendencies in the behaviour of some rulers who have managed to be despots within the framework of democracies, the power has passed to the masses irreversibly. This is the insurance for democracy and hope for the future.
Friday, July 21, 2006
The feature gives five reasons which make India poorer than Brazil. This includes poverty, poor infrastructure and illiteracy.
This report is part of the recent trend of India coverage in Brasilian newspapers and magazines. But the Playboy report is the most effective one in Brazil where the local edition sells over 250, 000 copies. And the decision makers and opinion makers read Playboy more seriously.
One distinguishing feature of Playboy Brazil is that it is read by more women than men. They read it to keep abreast of the tastes and preferences, weaknesses and whims of men. Armed with knowledge and skills, the Brazilian women goes hunting and conquering men. The Indian men need to watch out... they have been exposed ... they should be prepared for the attack from Brazil.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
clouds waiting to burst
the heart opens
feet in the air
romance mists the eyes
poetry waiting to burst
watching the monsoon rains from the balcony
reminded me of the words of Jorge Carrera Andrade, the Ecuadorian poet
Ecuador mi pais, esmeralda del mundo
novia vestida siempre de domingo
quisera besar todo el cuerpo verde
tus cabellos de selva"
Ecuador my country, emerald of the world
like a fiancee dressed always in sunday best
love to kiss all of her green body
and her wild hair.
One of the main exports of ecuador is flowers. Being close to Equator and with microclimates Ecuador produces some special flowers luminescent with unique colour combinations
Dr Francisco Carrion, was in Delhi 17-19 July. First-ever visit of a foreign minister of Ecuador to India. He invited Indian companies to enter the oil and gas sector of his country. ONGC Videsh (OVL) signed a MOU with Petroecuador. The virgin market of ecuador offers opportunities for Indian business in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles and engineering and manufactured products. India can import timber and minerals besides crude oil
Ecuador has opened an embassy in delhi since 2005. The energetic and dynamic Ambassador Carlos Abad is working hard to add content to relations and promote business.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Buenas Aires donde el tango nacio
tierra mia querida
Quisera poderte ofrender
todo el alma en mi cantar
This tango by Carlos Gardel was my welcome remark to the Argetinian delegation at the business meet organised by CII at Taj Mansingh Hotel on 5 July
Argentina.. the land of ...Pampas and patagonia... Evita and Che Guevara... Julio Borghes and Julio Cortazar... beefsteak and red wine...
Finally... the Argentinians also came.
I am saying finally because all the other countries of Latin America had taken initiatives to engage India and exchange visits of ministers and business delegations. Argentina was the last.
But the Argentinians made up for the delay. Their delegation was one of the biggest to come from the region The foreign minister was accompanied by a 20 member official delegation and 40 businessmen. The delegation included the governor of Rio Negro, a charming lady minister ( laura) of Mendoza and a member of Parliament.
The delegation was enthusiastic, serious, sincere and pleasant in their negotiations and talks with us. This came as a pleasant surprise to many Indians who had heard so many jokes about Argentinians.
The business event was successful. The Argentinian business delegation included some serious companies including those who wanted to export and do joint ventures in nuclear medical equipments, turbines for hydroelectric plants and cranes. The Indian response was overwhelming.
The Charming Minister of Mendoza Laura made a presentation on bz and investment opportunities in her province. The Indians who were already inebriated with the mendoza wines found the opportunities irresistible. Oil, mining and railways offer immediate opportunities for project contracts and investment.
The visit has laid the foundation for a new paradigm in relations and business. The Argentinian exports to India in 2005 were 746 million dollars and our exports 269 million. This could double in the next three years.
So the time has come for India to tango with Argentina !
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
It is vintage Llosa. He has made use of the ample 601 pages to give a comprehensive feel of the Peruvian society with some memorable characters. While Llosa has dealt with the various aspects of peruvian and latino cultures in his other books, he has been able to give comprehensive exposure in this book.
There is military dictatorship by Odria, repression and atrocities, the struggle by political parties and rebellion by university students. Oligarchy is in full play in the family of Don Fermin Zavalo. His son and hero Santiago rebels and becomes a leftist and then a journalist renouncing inheritance and comfort. Racial issue is covered through the character of Ambrosio, the black man and the half-breed wife of Don Cayo who face predictable humiliation. And . Of course, the typical Latino fare of bars and puterias provide the common refuge for all the characters from Don Fermin to his chauffer Ambrosio. The only thing missing in the novel is romance...
I had to ration reading of the book everyday for eleven days since i did not want to run out before the end of the vacation. The daily reading transported me briefly to Latin America, like a shuttle trip from the Himalayas.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
welcome! Bienvindo ! ... Florencia.
In March, Roberta Paduan of "Exame" the business magazine of Brazil spent two weeks in India and wrote a number of articles. One of her articles advised the Brazilian business " como ganar dinero com este nova India" ( how to make money with the new India).
In April, Carlos Graieb, the executive editor of "Veja" magazine ( which has the largest circulation) was here for three weeks with his photographer. His articles should be published shortly.
In August, Patricia Campos Melo, the reporter of Estado de Sao paulo, one of the largest daily newspapers will be here for about a month. She will write a book on the emerging new India in Portuguese.
From time to time, Globo TV of Brazil sends its crew to India for production for its " Fantastico" and other programmes.
These developments reflect the new mindset of Latin Americans who have started looking at India more seriously.
When will the Indian media start taking interest in the fascinating region of Latin America and .... give us a break from their excessive obsession with Pakistan and oversaturation of the conventional beat?
Apart from Carnival and football, samba and salsa, Copacabana and Ipanema, there is business, energy resources, minerals and metals, agribusiness, ethanol fuel and developmental experience of latin America which are of interest to India. Even Bollywood has started going to Latin America. Doom II shooting was done in Rio in March this year.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
is the Uruguayan film i saw last friday, courtesy the embassy.
This is the first-ever film from uruguay i ever saw. So i went with some curiosity.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the film.
It is a delightful and light hearted comedy. refreshingly different from the hollywood-type.
It is the story of two workers and an absent minded professor plus a kid who hijack a old steam engine, which was sold to an american hollywood company. But these characters consider it as a national treasure and does not want to let it go. One cannot go very far with a steam engine... there is police chase and TV camera chase...
ends as expected....
Except for the kid all the other characters are old, fitting in with Urguay's image as a paradise for retirement.
made in 2002 -directed by Diego Arsuaga
I understand that there are some more interesting films produced in Uruguay in recent years.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
- Her body was kept for public homage for fifteen days after her death on 26 july 1952.
- The timing of evening news broadcast was changed from 8.30 pm to 8.25 pm, the exact time when she passed into " immortality"
-Primary school children recited prayer songs from their text books" Evita, I promise to be as good as you wish me to be "
-for three years, the body was kept, waiting for the construction of a monument which did not materialise.
-The miltary regime, which overthrew Peron in sept 1955 was afraid of the subversive influence of the body andthey sent it secretly to be buried in a cemetry in Italy. The whereabouts of the body were written and put in sealed envelope by president Aramburu who gave it to his lawyer with instructions that it should be opened only after his death. To confuse investigators, many dummy coffins were sent to Argentine embassies in other European countries to be buried.
-The military regime which replaced Peron made " possession of fotos of Evita or Peron or use of the expressions Peronism or Peronist" a punishable offence with imprisonment. Sure... many went to jail.
-Monteneros, the left wing guerillas kidnapped Aramburu in 1970, tried to get the information on Evita's body unsuccessfully and executed him. In 1974 the same group kidnapped the cadaver of Aramburu from his family's vault and demanded the return of Evita's body as ransom. Eventually, in November 1974 the body was brought back to Argentina.
-The body found its final resting place in the Recoleta cemetry in Buenos Aires. The coffin was put behind two trap doors with the only key given to Evita's sister.
Evita's short life of 31 years was eventful. It is the story of a girl born outside marriage from a poor village family ,running away to the city and making it big. Thereafter her story became the story of Argentina. The legacy of Peronism continues to be a vital political force even today.
Her critics called her as a whore, failed actress and worse. Her admirers cannonised her as a saint. She empowered the Descamisados (shirtless- meaning lumpen workers ) and helped thousands of poor people genuinely. She mobilised the women power too. Critics say that she did for a political purpose. What is significant is, like Chavez in Venezuela, she was the first one to reach out to the poor, recognise them, respect them and help them. She received lepers and diseased, showed affection and kissed them without batting an eyelid.This is the fundamental reason why Peronism has outlived its label of dictatorship and other excesses commited by Peron. The empowerment of the Descamisados has made the workers as a formidable force against the oligarchs of Argentina who gave a different impression of the country to outsiders. In those heydays they used to say " rich like an Argentinian" and the term" jet-set" started with the Argentinians visiting Europe and North America. I think i am now starting to understand Argentina. There are two of them; one the jet-set type and the other one of Descamisados. There is one Argentina which extended a loan of a billion dollars to Britain after the world war and there is another one which went bankrupt in 2001.
The other key to understand Argentina is Tango. While the rest of Latin America celebrates life joyously and euphorically with Samba and Salsa, the Argentinian tango is sad. It is about loss of the loved one, betrayal and cynicism. Here is a sample from the first and last line of this tango
"Que el mundo fue y sera una porqueria
Qualqiera es un senor! qualquiera es un ladron!"
the world was and will be a pigsty
anyone is a gentleman! anyone is a thief
The authors of this book have succeeded in projecting an objective picture of Evita, conscious of the versions of the propaganda of her admirers and detractors.
There are many similiarities between Peronism and the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez except for Evita.....
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The book is a travelogue, in the format of a coffee-table type with lots of fotos. She, with her Builder-husband and friends travelled to Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 2004. Her writing is essentially touristic impressions of Amazon, Machu Pichu, Foz de Iguassu Falls, Rio de Janeiro and the museums and heritage of the places she has visited. She says "she was compelled to write about since the experience had touched the very cords of her heart"
As an acclaimed writer, Kusum can be expected to touch upon the literature of the region. Poems of Pablo Neruda, Paulo Coelho and Gabriela Mistral and writings of Octavio Paz ( The Labyrinth of Solitude) " have made an imposing impact on my life"- she says.
There are references to Evita Peron, Paulo Coelho, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
The launching event was held on 5 May with the Ambassadors of Chile and Argentina and the cda of Peru on the stage. The chief guest was Pavan Varma, the Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and one of my favorite authors and thinkers.
The readers of this blogsite would wonder why did i take ten days to write, after attending the launching event on 5 May. I got a copy of the book through a friend only yesterday. I did not think it was worthwhile to spend 3200 Rupees in buying this book, whose contents are like the palm of my hands for me.
The photographs could have been better and the author could have written more about the culture and people (rather than buildings, churches and and musuems -which are mere imitations of the European ones...), which make Latin America unique. Hope she would visit Bahia, Venezuela and other fascinating places next time.
The book is a welcome addition on Latin America. It will stimulate the interest of the new jet-set Indians who have started getting attracted by the exotic and exciting Latin America. Indians are getting to know the Latin American people, culture, music and dance besides business opportunities. Spanish has replaced French as the most popular foreign language in India.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
India International Centre, New Delhi held a panel discussion today with me and Siddharth Varadarajan from The Hindu as panelists. Former Foreign Secretary Shashank was the moderator.
In my speech I spoke about the genesis of left, its evolution, challenges it faced, the Big Brother angle and its implications for India. Points i made
- with 200 million poor people and the highest disparity in wealth Left turn logical and inevitable
-But the left which arose after the Second world war was caught in the cold war and faced external ( u know from whom) and internal challenges. Leftist governments in guatemala and Chile were overthrown. Central America was bloodied when Sandinistas came to power.
- Left gave the perfect excuse for military dictators to take over power in the name of protecting Patrias from internal enemies.
-In the next stage, when democracies were restored, they were trapped in washington Consensus and neoliberal prescriptions. Poor became poorer. Economies faced crises.
- Finally power moved to the streets from barracks and drawing rooms. Those who were excluded and marginalised in the past, finally got empowered. They voted those who promised to respond to their needs. Since they were in majority, they set the political and economic agenda. And this is how left reemerged.
-But it is not wholesale sweeping mandate. While Chavez and Morales got majority votes , it was split mandate for Lula. While he got elected, his party won only 3 out 0f 27 states and his party lost in Rio Grande de sul after 12 years of rule there. Lula could not carry out his agenda effectively because of the obstructive opposition majority in the Congress. Other leaders got varying degrees of mandate.
- New messiahs like Chavez and Evo were able to get elected only since recently. Earlier, the established parties did not allow space for outsiders.
- Bachelet and Lula are pragmatic and pursue policies friendly to masses and to the market in a non-confrontational mode. Chavez is the leader of the radical camp and his agenda is revolution... in its true sense ... revolution in internal society, regional policy and global fight against hegemony on top of a Bolivarian revoltion.
-Message is not enough. Label of left can take one to power but unfulfillment of mandate and delivery can bring it down. happened in Nicaragua when the Sandinistas lost the elections in 1990. happened to Luis Gutierrez. The same masses who elected him, overthrew him in two years when he went astray.
- The ability of outsiders to alter the destiny of latin american countries has come down and latinos have become less vulnerable by becoming collectively strong through regional groups.
- The internal, external and mutilateral policies of the Leftist governments are favourable for India and the Indian business who seek long term partnership with this new Latin America which is moving broadly in the right direction of stability, growth and prosperity.
Of course, these views are personal....
Siddharth touched the ideological part and had some sound advice for the government of India...
Monday, May 08, 2006
Eliana has got an Indian name " Shyama ". Here is the story of how she got it. She took interest in philosophy from her adolescent years and got introduced to the Ramakrishna mission which had a small branch in Brazil. She needed to go beyond the catholic religion for answers to her spiritual inquiries. She has been learning from the teachings of Ramakrishna and has been interacting with the Calcutta Headquarters since 1989. She has delved deep into Bhagwat Gita and other Indian philosophical works.
She is a member of the board of the Ramakrishna Mission in Brazil, which has branches in four cities. The current chief of the mission is Swami Nirmalatmananda whose mother tongue is Tamil.
Like Eliana, there are a number of Brazilians and Latin Americans who have become followers of Saibaba, Brahmakumaris, Harekrishna and other spiritual leaders of India.
Eliana is now going to stay for a week in a mutt near Nainital for one week listening to the discourse of one her favourite teachers. This is her fifth visit to India.
She says she feels at home in India. She says perhaps she had a previous incarnation in India.
I told her that I feel at home in Brazil and Latin America and my future incarnation is going to be there !!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
She has come to stay in India for the next two years, with her British husband. She gave a talk on Peruvian literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University last month. Her presence is going to enrich the Latino literary scene in India.
I had a long conversation with her and am looking forward to learn more about Peruvian and Latino literature. I told her about my admiration for Mario Vargas Llosa. We are planning to invite him to India.
Francesca holds a PhD on Hispanic Studies from King’s College, University of London. She has taught in the same University at the Department of Hispanic Studies and earlier at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
In Peru, from 2000 to 2002, she produced and conducted a cultural TV program, called “En Blanco y Negro”.
She is currently working on a novel. I hope that her experience in India would be reflected in her writings. Like Octavio Paz, she could open the eyes of Latin Americans to India besides inspiring the Indians interested in Latin America.
Bienvenido ( welcome ) Francesca !!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The title of the thesis is " Differentiated market strategies for doing business with Latin America. The recepient is Mr Ravichandran from Chennai. He got the Ph.D award on 2 may 2006.
He was the first Indian businessman i met when i set up the consulate in Sao Paulo temporarily in Maksood Plaza Hotel. Since then we have been in contact. Having seen my passion for Latin America and my publications he said he was thinking of doing a Ph.D. I was thrilled that he took Latin America even more seriously than me. He has done it.
Congratulations Ravi !!!
Ravi is the convenor of Indo- Latin American chamber of commerce and Industry in Chennai
His contact firstname.lastname@example.org fone 55640818.
Ravi exports garments to latin america and other parts of the world. He gives lectures on financial management and logistics.
I admire Ravi for his versatile interests. He is a rare businessman who devotes so much time to academic work.
The next Ph.D is going to come from Miss Dozinha on the subject of Indo- Brazil trade.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
It was heartening to see a dozen of them from central american countries such as nicaragua, guatemala etc. Many of them have come for the first time.
There was a workshop for them on 26 April at Ashoka hotel. I was invited to give a talk. I highlighted the quantum jump in trade and business, the paradigm shift on both sides giving rise to a new India and a new latin america, the change in the mindset and approach to each other and the prospects of the promising future for travel business. I mentioned the new and growing trend of Indians who have started going to experience the exotic and exciting latin america of samba and salsa.
This is the first ever such visit of tourist operators from latin america. The visit has opened their eyes to the new profile of India and understand the logistics of tourism in India. Tourism Ministry has promised to print brochures in spanish to disseminate tourism information. They have also proposed to organise road shows in the region.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
It means "rose seller"
It brings out in gruesome details the life and struggle of the street kids in colombia. They are sucked into crime, drugs, trafficking and prostituition by the unfortunate situation in some parts of Colombia. It is extremely difficult for the children from broken homes of the poor to avoid the fate portrayed in the movie.This real problem in the ghettos of the poor is a more serious long term concern than the ongoing drug trafficking and guerilla wars.
The actors in this movie directed by Victor Gaviria are not professional ones but street kids themselves. It is sad to note that some of the kids who acted in the movie have had tragic deaths in a replay of the movie. The main actor Leidy Tabares was arrested in a murder case.
It is similiar to the Brasilian movie Cidade de deus ( city of god), which is even more poignant.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The Archangel's Feather ( La pluma del Archangel)
directed by Luis manzo
It is about a telegraph operator in a remote village who changes the fortunes of people and causes happiness for some and and misery for others with his manipulation of messages. He signs fake telegrams with a feather from an archangel's wing.
The film reminded me of the other film
based on the the most famous classic novel of Romulo Gallegos, theVenezuelan writer who rose to become the president of the country.
Venezuela produces very few films (but lots of soap operas)
The last one which i saw was
La libertadora del libertador
means the lady liberator of the Liberator
It is about Manuelita Saenz, the lady love of Simon Bolivar in the last eight years of his life.
She is as colourful as Bolivar himself
She was the only one who had the guts to slap Bolivar once
of course, she saved his life when there was an attempt on him.
She was born in Ecuador and lived with Bolivar off and on in peru and Colombia
After Bolivar's death she was exiled, as it happened to many heroes of latin America ( it continues even now for some presidents)
She travelled around and finally breathed her last at the isolated port town Paita.