by T.P. Sreenivasan
In his long and exciting career as a diplomat, Mr Sreenivasan has met and interacted with several personalities all over the world, who have changed the course of our contemporary history, some political, some cultural, others in other areas.
The Dalai Lama, Leonid Brezhnev, Mohamed ElBaradei, KR Narayanan, Angela Markel, Fidel Castro, Kofi Annan and Shashi Tharoor are some of the luminaries that Mr Sreenivasan has written about.
Each personality is profiled within 1000-1500 words. There are 26 personalities covered in this book, which would interest not just an enthusiast of international politics, but also the general reader for whom these names are very familiar.
With a chatty style, we are presented with vignettes and incidents where each personality has been at the center. But we view them from the author’s standpoint. This is the most appealing aspect of Encounters. He locates each personality in their milieu and allows us a glimpse into the shaping of not just Indian policies and the role of diplomacy in the global arena, but we also come away understanding much more about mammoth institutions like the United Nations, the Non Aligned Movement, and the Climate Change negotiations.
But diplomacy is not what this book is about. It is about an insider’s observations after having been part of the large machinery such as the Indian Foreign Service. This book also features other personalities of prominence who have nothing to do with politics or diplomacy, but are purely masters of their chosen field—Zubin Mehta, Mata Amritanandamayi, Madhavan Kutty and Ayyappa Paniker.
Many of these writings first appeared in his column for Rediff.com, a popular news portal both in India and USA, who have consented to reproduce them in this book.