July 12, 2016
An Olympics without a smile
'As each week brings fresh tales of the woes of Rio on the eve of the Olympics, I wonder whether my friends had a foreboding that the Gods of the Olympics will bring only misfortunes to their country.''For, surely, Brazil is now getting ready to host the Games with a joyless spirit, says B S Prakash, formerly India's ambassador to Brazil.
June 30, 2016
How Indian diplomacy has changed!
'Young IFS officers today would take it for granted that they represent a major country with strengths and capabilities.''They will be aware that India is seen as one of the 10 significant countries in the world and therefore their voice will be heard whether on climate change or regime change,' says Ambassador B S Prakash.
June 08, 2016
Special Series: Modi comes to Washington
To mark Prime Minister Modi's seventh meeting with Obama and his historic joint address to US Congress -- the sixth Indian PM to do so -- India Abroad, the newspaper published from New York and owned by rediff.com, reached out to diplomats and strategic thinkers in New Delhi and Washington, DC, to assess the current state of the US-India relationship and suggest a road map for the future.
April 25, 2016
Why was I so under informed about Dr Ambedkar?
'Growing up in Karnataka, in middle-class and forward-caste background, Ambedkar did not enter our consciousness at all, I realised.''The 'exclusion' of sections of our society was not only physical; it was comprehensive in the sense that all aspects of their lives including the life of an exceptional intellectual and stalwart had been under-understood by people of my class, I thought,' says B S Prakash.
April 14, 2016
'I am hoping that now with the strategic status of our relationship, the Indian voice will get heard in Saudi Arabia,' says Ambassador B S Prakash.
March 24, 2016
The rise and fall of Lula and Brazil
'He is the man,' US President Barack Obama had said at a G-20 gathering, enhancing Lula's stature.Six years later, has Brazil's impressive economic growth turned to sand? Will a President, who enjoyed an 80 per cent approval rate in his country, be arrested? Ambassador B S Prakash, India's former envoy to Brazil, explains what has gone wrong in one of India's BRICS partner nations.
December 18, 2015
How good are India's diplomats?
'Those who follow the workings of the establishment believe that Indian diplomacy has managed more by the individual flair and brilliance of a few individuals than its systemic strength or organisational excellence.'
October 23, 2015
Can a country change its character?
'I believe that it can and in the case of Germany it has. What about ourselves? If it were 1971 today, would we accept 10 million refugees from another land?' asks Ambassador B S Prakash.
September 30, 2015
What Modi proved by his Silicon Valley visit
'If such is the ambition to effect change, India is a platform where an innovation can be tested on a scale unavailable in most places. To take the simplest example, where else are hundreds of millions in one country waiting for Internet access, for better broadband, for 4G roll out -- millions of them in each of these categories -- of the ascending scale?'
September 24, 2015
Silicon Valley, ready to enhance the link between Desi, Pravasi
'This has been an ongoing process,' says Ambassador B S Prakash, India's former consul general in San Francisco, 'but I believe a Modi visit to the West Coast can be a force-multiplier.'
January 08, 2015
Pravasi Special: Bharat Mata and her children
Over the years, pravasis have become a constituency, to be tapped, cultivated, and honoured, or at the very minimum to be listened to, says Ambassador B S Prakash.
December 19, 2014
Busy with a broom
'As we were setting up our base camp, one of the women with professionally used brooms squatting in a corner and having chai approached us, with a grin. "Namaste Saheb, Acche Din to aahi gaye. From which party?"' Ambassador B S Prakash and a group of retired bureaucrats join the Swach Bharat Abhiyan.
November 25, 2014
Should Lord Hanuman be the IFS mascot?
'There is no danger of the suggestion being accepted in a hurry, as we are still discussing the design of an IFS tie and trainee officers are still taught how to handle forks and knives.'
November 19, 2014
I too became a TV talking head!
'Soon enough, we were out shouted. The journalist had a multiple agenda -- he berated the Government, the bureaucracy in general and the UPSC system that selected them.'
August 19, 2014
When the Empress of India paid homage to Babar
'The first 55 years of Natwar Singh's life give a fascinating narrative of our diplomacy,' says Ambassador B S Prakash after reading One Life is Not Enough.
August 06, 2014
The tizzy caused by Modi's proposed gift!
B S Prakash takes a tongue-in-cheek look at what India's neighbours think about the proposal of a SAARC satellite.
July 17, 2014
What did BRICS build (if anything, in Brazil)?
'Happily,' says Ambassador B S Prakash, 'BRICS displayed new-found energy and built something real, a bank. Between needless nihilism and as yet unjustified euphoria, there are many stations for the BRICS train and we can watch its progress with renewed interest.'
June 05, 2014
The party's in Brazil!
'The World Cup is being played in the football crazy country after 64 years and nothing excites the Brazilians more than the sacred game,' says B S Prakash, India's former ambassador to Brazil.
December 10, 2013
Are women drivers Saudi Arabia's gravest threat?
The winds of revolution are blowing all over the Arab world. A bit, slowly in Saudi Arabia, perhaps, but nevertheless. Some women did drive, defying the ban and were duly arrested. But the day is not long, may be, just another century at most, when women can actually drive, in women-only lanes, of course, says B S Prakash.
October 29, 2013
Who will be the next Steve Jobs?
In some ways, Elon Musk's vision is even bolder and more transformative than that of Steve Jobs, says B S Prakash.
'It is in America's nature to go to war'
'I am no longer surprised by how cynical university students generally are about American motives. America, no matter who the President, what the circumstances will act like a bully, is their collective belief,' says Ambassador B S Prakash
after a recent interaction with students.
July 29, 2013
Images: The Pope at the Beach
Argentina and Brazil are traditional rivals and there was a time when their antagonism was being compared to India-Pakistan relations. They have overcome to a great extent their history of hostility. That an Argentinean Pope was so warmly embraced in Brazil shows that his great office does transcend such divides, notes B S Prakash
, India's former ambassador to Brazil.
June 21, 2013
Brazil's unusual protests -- and larger lessons from it
An objective observer can indeed see the improvement in all the social parameters in Brazil, but for the citizen the state of infrastructure, public transport, education and health is dissatisfying. Some of that pent-up frustration has led to the current protest, says B S Prakash
May 10, 2013
Which planet do you live on?
'We had been talking for two hours about India and America and we stopped and looked at each other. "The issues are the same," said my hyper-successful and patriotic NRI friend, his hidden Indian self somewhere wanting to empathise. Yes, I agreed, only the planets that we inhabit seem different, notes B S Prakash
March 18, 2013
The geography of joy
'If only our roads were less congested, metros less crowded, markets a little more cleaner and air and water purer our happiness would be greater...'
January 14, 2013
Indian diplomats must do more than just diplomacy
An Indian diplomat should aspire to represent something even larger than the government, even larger than the somewhat abstract concept of the 'Indian State'.
October 22, 2012
'They all asked about Pele and said they loved Brazil...'
' is the Brazilian mantra that I have learnt living here: 'Keep cool' is its colloquial translation to do justice to the spirit of Brazil.' India's ambassador bids goodbye to Brazil.
September 25, 2012
Is Silicon Valley reinventing itself?
The challenge is to go out and do something different; not one more 'application' to download, not one more 'Angry Birds', a YouTube sensation. Something is changing yet again in the innovation hub that is still the Silicon Valley.
August 28, 2012
A kilo of contentment
'My Indian guests were to get a slice of the authentic Brazilian experience, the cuisine being only one part of it.'
August 14, 2012
So what, if they are VIPs?
'In India traffic comes to a virtual standstill whenever there is 'VVIP movement'. At the Rio+20 Conference there were hundreds of world leaders, but no security agency seemed to hassle the locals.'
June 18, 2012
Return to Rio
Over a hundred world leaders including the Indian prime minister will be at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. It is likely to be one of the biggest conferences of its kind.
June 13, 2012
Why we will continue to value the IIT and the IAS
In a nation beset with class, caste, gender and other kinds of bias, prejudice and inequity, we still have managed to retain a functioning system of predominantly merit-based selection for some of the most sought after slots.
May 14, 2012
Are we surrendering our minds?
'Are we submerging our individual abilities, memories and consciousness to a larger anonymous cloud over which we have no control?'
'Is this a surrender of our mind to an omniscient, omnipotent Viswa Chaitanya, a Universal Consciousness that the great scientists or rishis dreamed of?'
April 20, 2012
The India that is not Bharat...
'A battle for a glass of red wine ends happily when an Air India traveller magnanimously accepts whiskey instead...'
March 29, 2012
No issues! Why you don't need to learn a foreign language
'As a vegetarian in this mainly carnivorous nation, how does he manage food; how does he commute in a complicated city; what does he do for news and entertainment since virtually everything is only in Portuguese in Brazil, etc. "No issues," he kept saying.'
February 23, 2012
What a monster Steve Jobs could be!
'Are the great always good? Few of his associates would use the adjective 'good' for Steve Jobs. The circuitry and the code that runs an individual is more complex than that which runs a computer. The world would be a duller place if it were not so.'
January 11, 2012
The new international caste system
'But where were the majority of my cousins from South Asia, the multitudes from Pakistan and Bangladesh and my own compatriots. They were the service class: Cleaning, pouring, clearing, wiping, sweeping and getting rid of the rubbish.'
December 12, 2011
Consume or Kill? Save or Spend?
'The public are being told to consume more, even in China and India. A part of the global problem is being attributed to the saving patterns of people in Asia and we are being told that greater demand and consumption in BRIC countries can help ease the pain of the developed world.'
October 31, 2011
Decline, recession, stagflation, crisis, crunch...
'Every slide in the power point presentation had a graph with years like 2006, 2008, 2010 on the X axis... Most lines seemed to lie inert horizontally and many seemed to dip despondently, except the red line for China which seemed to rise triumphantly in each slide...'
September 05, 2011
When are we happy?
'There are many unknowns about happiness, but one thing is known: Thinking about happiness does not make you happy.'
July 18, 2011
Accidental Chinese Wisdom
Kissinger asks Zhou Enlai, 'What do you think is the impact of the French Revolution?' Zhou, after a pregnant silence so beloved of statesmen, says, 'It is too early to tell.' This comment about the Revolution that changed history has been a subject of analysis for decades.
June 17, 2011
The untold story of Obama's mother
Barack Obama's mother was a truly unusual person, a woman with a curiosity, a keen intellect, and an internationalist orientation much ahead of her times, says B S Prakash after reading A Singular Woman.
May 10, 2011
Rules for Regime Change?
What are the rules for change of a regime?" asked my co-passenger. "Well, it is a bit complicated and there are no rules," I started...
April 05, 2011
Are the Chinese 'better' parents?
'Are we losing this race too? Will the Chinese outstrive us, even if they don't outsmart us?'
February 10, 2011
IT greats who changed the world
Marc Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sergei Brin and Larry Page of Google, Steve Jobs of Apple and Bill Gates of Microsoft -- visionaries, missionaries or monopolists?
January 14, 2011
Why Brazil tops the modelling world
'Tall frames, blond hair, blue eyes, high cheek bones -- some of them inherit an explosive mix of attractive features. They may come from modest backgrounds and farming families, but spotted early they can be trained and transformed into super models.'