......Passionate about Latin America......
Yes... I am ...Passionate about Latin America.... I blog, write articles, publish books, give speeches and love.. Latin America . My Latin American interests cover politics, economies, business, history, literature, culture, football, food, music and movies.
I love the Latin American spirit, which is
celebra la vida..segundo a segundo
nada se guarde…todo se brinde...
It means.. celebrate life ..second to second.. hold back nothing..give out everything.. This is part of of a pop song by Axel, the Argentine singer.
I speak Spanish and Portuguese.
I give talks on Latin America as well as Indo- Latin American relations and business in Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Export Promotion Councils, Think tanks and Universities in the various cities of India. I have also given speeches on India in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese.
Over 100 videos of my speeches are in my Youtube channel
Most of the speeches in the period Nov 2007-May 2012 made in Argentina are in Spanish.
I have started giving motivational speeches to Civil Service aspirants since 2017..
My stories/blogs/articles in https://rengarajviswanathan.contently.com/
My articles on Latin America and Indo-Latin American relations have been published in newspapers, magazines and business journals of India, Latin America and US. The list is in the articles section.
www.businesswithlatinamerica.blogspot.com on Latin American economies, trade, investment and Indo-Latin American business
www.latinamericanaffairs.blogspot.com. this is about things of the heart: music, books, politics, culture, people and experience
Malgudi to Macondo - the journey of an innocent Indian through the seductive Latin America - August 2012 - published by Indo-Latin American Chamber
Business with Latin America - second edition February 2005 - published by Export Import Bank of India
Business with Latin America - first edition February 2003 - published by Embassy of India Caracas
Business with Andean Community - April 2001- published by Embassy of India, Caracas
Guide for Business with Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - five editions from 2008 to 2012
Guide for Business with Venezuela - three editions 2001-3 - published by the Embassy of India, Caracas
Guide for Business with Brasil - four editions 1997-2000 - published by the Consulate of India, Sao Paulo .
A market study of Mercosur June 1997 - published by the Consulate, Sao Paulo.
Although Facebook has now become old fashioned, I use it to comment on Latin America besides giving a glimpse of my life’s journey.
Indo-Latin American business and friendship group There are over 3000 members both from India and Latin America exchanging information, ideas and business prospects.
I administer a WhatsApp Group on Latin America in which members exchange information, opinion and ideas. The Group consist of business people, diplomats, scholars and enthusiasts of Indo-Latin American friendship.
I have visited all the Latin American countries and feel at home whether it is Tegucigalpa or Tierra del Fuego. I continue my travels within and outside India. After my retirement in 2012, I had gone to Argentina twice, Mexico twice and Brazil once to participate in conferences.
- Ambassador of India to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - October 2007 to May 2012. Retired from there on 31 may 2012
- Head of the Latin America Division in the Ministry of External Affairs of India - 2004 to 2007.
- Head of Investment and Trade Promotion Division in the Ministry, 2003 - 2004
- Ambassador to Venezuela 2000-2003.
- Consul General of India in Sao Paulo - 1996 to 2000.
- Previous postings include New York (mission to the United Nations), Mauritius, Libya, Pakistan and Portugal
I am a golf enthusiast and a member of Delhi Golf Club and DLF Golf Club, Gurgaon
Played in many courses in Latin America including snow golf in Ushuaia in Argentina.
Have played in more than 90 courses in the East Coast of US during the posting in New York.
Played in many courses in the various Indian cities
skiied in Valle Nevado in Chile and Bariloche, Las Lenas, Chappelco and Ushuaia in Argentina, besides some US ski resorts
Tennis, ping pong, badminton, done some rollerblading, ice skating and river rafting too.
travel, reading, music and bridge
Life before diplomacy
worked as Demonstrator (junior lecturer) in Chemistry at Bishop Heber College, Trichy 1974-5 and at Pachaiyappa's College, Madras 1975-77
M Sc chemistry from Pachaiyappa's College Madras, 1974
B Sc chemistry and PUC (Pre University Course) from Pushpam College, Poondi, Tamilnadu
Government Secondary School ( sixth to eleventh standard), Mariammankovil, near Thanjavur
Elementary School ( class 1 to 5), Rararmuthiraikottai village, halfway between Mariammankovil and Poondi
I was born in Alangudi Mahajanam, a village 15 km from Lalgudi (sounds like Malgudi, the fictional small town in the novels of RK Narayan) and 35 km from Trichy in Tamilnadu. My mother is illiterate and my father semi-literate. They had half an acre of land in which they grew rice. With three children ( I am the eldest) to feed, they gave me away to be brought up by my distant uncle in Raramuthiraikottai, another village 12 km from Thanjavur. My uncle had 7 acres of land and no children.
I did my elementary school in Raramuthiraikottai and higher elementary school in Mariammankovil. It was my good luck that the school got upgraded to High School and I was in the first batch from ninth to eleventh standard. My uncle did not believe that education would lead to a viable livelihood. He wanted me to focus on the land and the cattle with the promise that I could inherit his property. He would, therefore, ask me to stop the studies at the beginning of every summer holidays of school. Fortunately, he did not enfocrce it. I managed to finish the schooling in the Government Higher Secondary School in Mariammankovil. After this, my uncle put his foot down and said with a finality in his voice, “ Enough of your studies. We cannot afford to send you to college. Get ready to look after the land and cattle” That is when, Poondi College came to my rescue. I told him that the college was just 4 kms from the village. I promised to him that I would do the farm work in the morning and during weekend. I fulfilled my promise till I passed out BSc in 1972. I convinced my uncle that the amount of scholarship I would get with my high marks would be more than the college fees. Reluctantly, he agreed. And my escape thereafter, was unstoppable.
The summer in the school days was to ride the bullock carts carrying manure to the fields in summer. Of course, most of my friends in the village did the same. I went barefoot to the school and got my first pair of sandals when I went to college. I bought my first pair of full pants when I got award of money for the first prize I won in the annual state-wide Tamil (Maanavar Manram) exam during BSc.
My dream was to go by cycle to school and college. But it remained only as a dream and I had to go by walk 4 kms to the school and 4 kms to the college too. Now I have bought a cycle which I use during my stay in the village.
I used to always sleep in the first period of class in Poondi College, after walking/running the 4 km distance to the college against the sun in the morning immediately after working in the fields. The cool air from the fan and the lullaby of lecture aided my sleep. My friends used to make fun of me but were kind to share their notes after the lecture.
After the Tamil medium schooling, I got lost in the English medium, when I joined Poondi Pushpam college, where I joined the Pre University Course(PUC). As a Tamil medium educated village lad, I was intimidated by the english medium boys from Thanjavur town. On top of that, the Maths professor asked me and another student to get out of the Maths, Physics and Chemistry course, since we had not done maths in our school finals. But I had already got old Maths books from a friend who had failed couple of times in PUC. So I persisted and continued in the Maths group and surprised myself and the professor with Distinction in the final exam. The inspiration for me was a Chemistry lecturer who started calling me as Mr First Mark, after I came first in one of the exams.
I joined BSc chemistry in the same college, since I was advised that Chemistry would have more job opportunities. The same Chemistry lecturer advised and encouraged strongly that I should go for MSc in Chennai. I joined Pachaiyappa’s college but again got lost in the big college and city.
Thanks to a wonderful Tamil teacher, I became interested in Tamil literature in class nine. My literary interest got further stimulated during my graduate studies. I had a dream of becoming a Tamil poet. In fact, I had applied for MA Tamil Literature in Pachaiyappa's College, Madras. But my Tamil professor from Poondi College advised me that Chemistry would offer better job prospects than Tamil studies.
I worked as junior lecturer (the designation was Demonstrator..) of chemistry for one year at Bishop Heber College, Trichy and two years at Pachiyappa´s college, Chennai. I loved teaching. The satisfaction was instant... visible in the glint of the eyes of the students. But the salary of 500- 600 Rupees a month was not enough...
I was looking for a better job, when a friend who was taking the civil service exam for the second time advised me to try. ... oops I got lucky. I was selected in the written test and was called for interview in Delhi. The first thing I did was sightseeing of the Delhi city and Tajmahal. I was not sure if I would come again on the 2500 km train journey. I was overwhelmed by the Capital city and the people from the north, who could not make out whether I was saying yes or no when I shook my head all the time.... I was thrilled when I passed the interview. After this, I met an IAS officer for the first time in my life. She said that a country bumpkin (kabaadi was the only game I had played till I got my first job) like me would not fit in the high-flying world of diplomacy. I took some time to adapt myself, gain confidence and be myself. ..An accidental diplomat...Even now my mother and many of my relatives and friends do not know what does Ambassador or diplomat mean.
It was love at first sight with Latin America when I went to Brazil in 1996. I lost my Malgudian innocence in Macondo ( fictional town in the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) filled with the spirit of Magical Realism of Latin America.
Life after Diplomacy
Distinguished Fellow, Latin America Studies, Gateway House ( Indian Council on Global Relations ) Mumbai from 1 August 2013 to 31 May 2015
My writings in Gateway House are in the link http://www.gatewayhouse.in/author/r-viswanathan/
Since my retirement in 2012, I am settled in Gurgaon. I keep visiting my Tamilnadu village several times a year. I play golf in DLF club 4-5 times a week. I read a lot and enjoy travelling.
I am an independent Director in Caplin Point, a Chennai-based pharmaceutical firm for which Latin America is the main export market.
I keep up my passion for Latin America by following Latin American news, reading books, watching Latino films, listening to Latino music, writing blogs and articles and giving speeches. I follow the advice of my Latino friends, “Don’t stop having fun when you are old…you become old only when you stop having fun..”
My contact: firstname.lastname@example.org