Thursday, May 25, 2006

Brazilians are coming to India for news

The Brazilian newspaper " O Globo " is posting a fulltime correspondent in Mumbai to cover news from India. Florencia Costa, the correspondent is reaching Mumbai on 31 may. She will be the first Brazilian ... hmmm... Latin American correspondent in India.

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

uruguayan film - Corazon de fuego

Corazon de fuego- heart of fire
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


I have just finished reading the book " Evita- the real life of Eva Peron" written by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro. As i anticipated , the story of Evita helps one to understand the puzzle of Argentina, which fascinates me. More than what she said or did, what is significant is what did the Argentinians do in her name or against her name. They did not confine it to her life. Their pursuit would follow even after her death. They had created as much drama, myth and contoversy over her dead body as much they had done during her short public life. For tweleve years after her death there was secrecy and mystery about the wherabouts of the body. .. thriller like the Da Vince code. Let me start with the cadaver first. Here are some highlights

- 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

launching of book" Discovering Latin America"

The author is Dr Kusum Ansal, who has written a number of short stories and novels.
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

Reemergence of Left in Latin America

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 of Brazil is Shyama in India

Eliana is a senior executive in the international business division of Banco Itau, the second largest bank of Brazil. She attended the ADB meet in Hyderabad and had meetings with Indian banks and business. Her bank has established correspondent relations with Indian banks and is keen to promote business between the two countries. I encouraged her bank to consider opening an office in India.

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

Francesca Denegri from Peru

Francesca denegri is a Peruvian writer and academician.

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

Ph.D in the study of business with Latin America

This is the first Ph.D for a study of business with Latin America.
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 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.