T.P.Sreenevisan's Page


T.P Sreenivasan

 I released the book on January 26. Architect Gopakumar has done the world a favour by telling his remarkable story of an architect, whose creations dot the skyline in Kerala and beyond. He has done me a particular honour by asking me to write a Foreword for his book through my brother-in -law and his friend, Chandramohan, himself an innovative engineer of the marine variety, because I would not have even seen the book or read it otherwise. Every time I am invited to write a Foreword for a book or to release one, I am compelled to read it and most often it expands my horizon of knowledge and leads to the discovery of a new writer. Reading ‘Mind of Fire’, literally ignited my interest in architecture and I discovered a gifted and charming story teller. If he had not become an architect, he would have won a Booker Prize for literature instead of the Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for his architectural genius. “Fools build houses and wise men live in them,” has.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Friends, New Year letters normally begin with a review of the past year, but to review 2020, is to look back at “the unrelenting insanity of this hideous year,” as the ‘Washington Post’ characterised it. The biggest feature of the year was that the moment you felt that it could not be worse, it got worse. Survival alone was success and I congratulate everyone who succeeded one way or another. Now is the time to count our blessings and pray for the future. We chased a mirage the whole year, thinking that we were close to liberation and normalcy. Predictions of the end of the agony, a flattening of curves, a vaccine getting ready and herd immunity kept us waking up after every nightmare only to read another set of numbers which left us numb. We began rejoicing even when numbers went down marginally. To think that each of those numbers had a life of its own with several lives depending on it was sheer angst. Many lives were lost, including Poet Sugathakumari.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Supporters cheer outside the entrance of Trump National Golf Club as US President Donald Trump’s motorcade passes by in Sterling, Virgina, US, on Sunday. REUTERS The damage Trump is doing by not allowing the transition process to commence is grave. The scientific evidence so far suggests that coronavirus will be around for some time and we have to learn to live with it. Donald Trump seems to have some similarities with the pandemic. We do not know when he will loosen his grip on America and the world. He is not about to disappear in a specific timeframe. He may mutate into several forms with different intensity of lethality and he may come again to prove all science and astrology wrong. Even if Trump retracts his determination to have a second term from January 2021, he will n.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

2+2 dialogue between India and the US In an event reminiscent of the signing of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, which marked a deviation from its non-aligned policy, India signed the last of the four fundamental treaties, which were required to make India a “Major Defence Partner” of the United States, intended to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. Like in 1971, it is a set of circumstances which threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity rather than a drastic departure from strategic autonomy which prompted India to cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ to be an ally of the United States. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told the US Congress in June 2016, “The constraints of the past are behind us.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Biden-Trump face-off The US elections are a little more than ten days away. The possibility of a change of leadership is indicated in the opinion polls, but things still remain uncertain. The frequently asked questions at this point and their answers are the following. 1. How are the US elections 2020 different from the previous ones? A: The US elections in 2020 are about leadership and the question is whether the present President has delivered and whether the alternative will be better. The ideological differences between the two parties are thin and there are many who swing between them, depending on their assessment of the incumbent and the expectations about the challenger. In the present case, the elections are a referendum on the style and performance o.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Australia, India, Japan and the US come together to “persuade” China to see reason Quadrilateral Security Dialogue |Photo credit: The Diplomatist Quo Vadis? (Whither goest thou?) was the question on every body’s lips as the Foreign Ministers of four significant countries, Australia, India, Japan and the United States, known as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) filed out of a conference room in Japan with their designer masks hiding their true emotions. Their speeches were diverse in nuances, even though the whole world knew why they held the meeting. Ever since the idea was proposed in 2007, there were hesitations, fears and apprehensions, even as the rationale for a setting up a group of democracies, committed to a rule based and cooperative regime in the Asia-Pacific,.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

  President Donald Trump and his assistant Hope Hicks   By his most recent antics, US President Donald Trump has become suicidal not only for himself but also for his nation and the world. He was reckless throughout the period of the pandemic, dismissing it as inconsequential, providing medical misinformation and exhorting the public not to wear masks and violating even the basic laws to prevent infection. His behaviour since his own infection has baffled his doctors and confused the public. Having been treated for a severe infection, he left the hospital after three days and returned to the White House, which has become a super spreader with a dozen senior officials already infected. In.....

Read More
Share :



T.P.Sreenivasan

Gandhi Statue in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington DC Everything that can be said about Gandhiji has been said. Much that should not have been said also has been spoken and written about him. But I consider Mahakavi Vallathol’s poem ‘Ente Gurunadhan’ the ultimate tribute to Gandhiji. It surpasses even Albert Einstein’s immortal words about him: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Vallathol went to the extent of describing Gandhiji’s personality as a happy combination of the attributes of all the best in gods and human beings. Christ’s sacrifice, Krishna’s strategy for the protection of dharma, the Buddha’s non-violence, Sankaracharya’s mighty intellect, Harischandra’s truth, Prophet Mohammad’s determination and.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

UNGA|Photo credit: The National “The whole world is fighting the global pandemic of Corona for the last 8-9 months. Where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?” This poignant question by Prime Minister Narendra Modi against an organisation, which was meant “to save the succeeding generations” reverberated in the physically empty, but well-connected hall of the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2020. He was speaking on the theme, “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action”. The whole world felt frustrated when the then President of the Security Council, China, held the UN to ransom in total.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

    Countries the world over need to come together in times of crisis|Photo credit: University of London The year 2020 may go down in history as the “Annus Horribilis” as Queen Elizabeth called a year of calamity to the British royalty. In such a year, there is only one imperative, not only for foreign policy or any other policy, but for humanity itself - survival. We do not know yet the final tally of the loss of lives, chronic illnesses, the economic collapse and the demographic changes that COVID-19 will leave behind and when. All plans and policies we make for the post-COVID-19 world may be miserably wrong, whether for the better or worse. With survival as the imperative, foreign policy of any country today should become non-ideological, non-political, global and all inclusi.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Jawaharlal Nehru & Zhou Enlai, architects of the first Panchsheel|Photo credit: Lisa Larsen, International Center of Photography In 1954, India and China signed an agreement in which the two sides emphasised that the Five Principles (“Panchsheel”) of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence, would ensure peace and stability in Asia. But what followed was a period of conflict, war and tension on the border, which necessitated many agreements to deal with specific situations. Now we have another “Panchsheel” signed in Moscow by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 20 September 2020, but it is still not clear whether it wi.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

   China claims that Indian soldiers fired warning shots at bank of Pangong Lake, As the Minister of External Affairs S.Jaishankar leaves for Teheran en route to Moscow to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the situation on the China border has deteriorated, indicating that his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister is not likely to lead to disengagement . The two sides have accused each other of aggravating the situation by using gunfire and violating the agreements reached earlier. China appears to be digging in to alter the Line of Actual Control ( LAC) unilaterally. Moreover, China had initially refused to account for three Indians missing from Arunachal Pradesh and questioned India’s locus standi in the matter. Subsequently, China has located them and promised to return the.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

India-UAE relationship of recent years is a success story, which transformed the geopolitics of the Gulf region. The Gulf state pledged high investments in India, including in Jammu and Kashmir, decided to store its strategic oil reserves in India and joined India in its fight against terrorism. Many grievances of the Indian workers were removed and permission was given to build a grand Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. An Indian Minister of External Affairs was invited to address the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) for the first time under the auspices of the UAE. The UAE is now on centrestage, having come to terms with Israel by reaching a breakthrough agreement brokered by President Trump. This accord is a godsend for India as Pakistan has taken a confrontationist posture against the UAE. Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared Israel as Pakistan’s worst enemy, relegating India to the second position. India has welcomed the UAE-Israel agreement as.....

Read More
Share :



TP Sreenivasan

  I was at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Havana in 1979 soon after Egypt normalised relations with Israel with the blessings of the United States. A pall of gloom descended over the summit chaired by Fidel Castro as the entire Arab world demanded that Egypt should be expelled from NAM for an act of betrayal. The summit was dominated by the issue and it remained doubtful whether Egypt would be able to retain its membership. A heroic effort by a group of countries, nicknamed the “Gang of Four” - Cuba, Yugoslavia, Algeria and India - salvaged the situation. Egypt was severely reprimanded, but allowed to continue as a founder member of NAM. The Abraham Accord of 13 August 2020 is equally game changing even after a lapse of 40 years, but reactions were low-key in the Arab world and many countries welcomed it as an important step on the road to peace. The whole context has changed after Jordan followed Egypt in 1994 and n.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

IJoe Biden and Kamala Harris|File photoI The opinion of Indians in India or in the US will make no difference to the outcome of the elections in the US. The winner has to secure electoral votes, not even just the popular vote Those of us in India have no vote and the Indian origin voters do not have the numbers either to contribute significantly to the popular vote or to swing the votes in battleground states. But the way we are, we express our opinions regardless and even believe that they will have an impact on the elections. I remember a senior colleague of mine admonishing me for speculating about a Trump victory in 2016. When I said that I neither had a vote or an iota of influence on the electorate, he said that we should not see, hear or speak evil lest it should misguide someone......

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

The horrors of the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the dropping of nuclear bombs over the two cities shook the conscience of mankind. The justification offered that if the bombs were not used, WW II would have lasted much longer was unacceptably inhuman. But the point made that no one could anticipate the consequences fully may have been true. As a result, the actual use of the bomb and its far-reaching consequences may well have ensured that nuclear weapons will not be used again. The nuclear stockpile has grown in the world and so has the number of arms control and disarmament measures. Moreover, the growth of technology has made it unnecessary to destroy human lives to defeat nations. The wars of the future will be fought with mobile phones or test tubes filled with viruses. This year, Russia celebrated the anniversary of the Potsdam Conference (July 17–August 02, 1945), and invited me to participate in two international.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

  Students in a government school in Bihar   |File photo The Union Government has recognised that formulation of the Education Policy is so complex that it should be entrusted to a rocket scientist. It had to be done with speed, precision and pin point accuracy like landing softly on the surface of the moon. The eminent educationists officials engaged earlier turned out to be too conservative and rigid. An imaginative outsider was necessary to recommend measures for innovative and game-changing decisions regarding an old established institution. Dr Kasturirangan, a man for all seasons, rose to the occasion and produced a set of recommendations on the basis of which the Cabinet has formulated a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. The first e.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Hassan Rouhani and Xi Jinping greet each other|Alexander Zemlianichenko India and Iran have an “alphabetical dividend” in the United Nations. We get to be seated very near each other in most of the multilateral bodies. During the Iran-Iraq war, some ingenious Secretariat staff used to manipulate the seating in such a way that we found ourselves between the Iranian and Iraqi delegations. At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, I sat next to the Iranian delegates, ranging from junior diplomats to Ministers and high level nuclear experts for nearly four years. Some of them are at the highest levels in the nuclear establishment and elsewhere in the Iranian government today. From that experience, I have felt that the special relationship between India and Iran is one.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Later prime minister PV Narasimha Rao I was in New York on the day Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The news was broken to me by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who saw me at the UN restaurant enjoying my lunch. He realised that I had not heard the tragic news. He came up to my table, put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to go and watch CNN outside and walked off. I rushed out to see the scenes of the bombing which killed the prospective Prime Minister of India. As it happened, I had an appointment with Dr Viswanathan Talluri, a cardiologist and we inevitably talked about the tragic event and a possible successor. I said that Sonia Gandhi might be an obvious choice and if there would be any problem about that, PV Narasimha Rao might be chosen. Dr Talluri said: “Narasimha Rao? Please tell him not to be Prime Minis.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Representative image of China and India relations   India today stands bewildered, like a young teenager in front of a heap of hundreds of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, not knowing where to fit them in to create the charming castle pictured on the box. Patience, perseverance and imagination are required to complete the picture and it is not clear even where to begin. What we have are a few disjointed pieces of information like sighting of Chinese military movements in the Ladakh region in the vicinity of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India’s immediate response that the matter would be resolved through dialogue at the military and diplomatic levels, reports of meetings and an announcement of disengagement by both sides. Then there was a sudden clash in which there were 20 confirmed death.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Migrant workers boarding a bus to go home|Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation The overwhelming sentiment in India that Mother India has a duty to welcome her children back to her bosom has given way to some concern about the overwhelming number of arrivals of Indians by air, land and water to our shores. Alarm bells have begun to ring in health circles about the fear of shortages of beds, machines and quarantine facilities. Such a phenomenon of the nationals of the country returning in thousands must be unique to India. Since the pandemic does not discriminate on any basis, the concern is universal. Even in the good old Before Corona (BC) years, the general preference was for the cousins to continue abroad and remit money and visit occasionally rather than come home permanently. After Corona (AC), w.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

China fought on two fronts at the just concluded virtual World Health Assembly (18-19 May 2020) in Geneva in its first open bid to dominate the post-Corona world. On the one hand, it wanted to be considered a victor in the battle against the pandemic and as the country, which is capable and willing to assist the rest of the world without any investigation into Chinese culpability in hiding the advent of the Coronavirus, if not creating it. On the other hand, China wanted to reinforce its “One China” position when it found that Taiwan’s claim to an observer status in the WHA was gaining traction in the wake of Taiwan’s extraordinary success in tackling the virus. When it became clear that it cannot win on two fronts, China retreated from the first front and claimed victory on the second. China sent a letter to the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) a couple of days before the Assembly stating that a.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

Kerala certainly has reasons to be proud of its record so far and the praise showered on it is well deserved. But the real test is yet to come, writes Amb T. P. Sreenivasan (retd) for South Asia Monitor   Image A Kerala poet was known for his patriotic poems during the freedom struggle once wrote: “When you hear ‘Bharat’, our hearts should be filled with pride; when you hear ‘Kerala’, the blood should boil in our veins.” In these dark, gloomy days of COVID-19, Keralites had the occasion to feel their blood boiling with pride, whenever the world media, which had never even acknowledged the existence of the tiny state in the south-west of India, praised it for the remarkable way in which it flattened the curve of the coronavirus. I have before me 37 reports from nearly 20 countries, a.....

Read More
Share :



TP Sreenivasan

“India has moved on from its non-aligned past. India is today an aligned state — but based on issues,” the then Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said during a session titled ‘The Road to 2030: Challenges, Partnerships and Predictions’ at the Raisina Dialogue in January 2016. Not surprisingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not participate in the NAM summits of 2016 and 2019. Dr Manmohan Singh was the last Indian Prime Minister to attend a NAM summit, in Teheran in 2012. Apart from Charan Singh, no Indian Prime Minister had ever skipped NAM summits before. When the global situation did not permit the hosting of a summit by Iraq, the whole movement had turned to India to provide leadership at short notice. Such was the role of India in guiding and sustaining NAM. PM Mod.....

Read More
Share :



T.P Sreenivasan

File photo of Indian diaspora in Bangladesh For a nation, which prides itself on having a diaspora empire on which the sun never sets, the present global pandemic is a reminder of the trials and tribulations of past empires, which crumbled under the weight of their own wealth, glory and responsibilities. The Indian diaspora has been a source of remittances, technology and intellectual power. Ever since the Indian economy was liberalised and began to grow at a rapid pace, the prosperous diaspora in the developed countries and the massive number of migrant workers in the Gulf became the back bone of the Indian economy. Gulf billionaires struck the British empire back by acquiring iconic institutions like the East India Company and Scotland Yard. The total assets of the 30 million strong Indian diaspo.....

Read More
Share :