Different Dialogues : His Excellency M. K. Lokesh

In conversation with His Excellency M. K. Lokesh –Ambassador of India to the United Arab Emirates.
Diplomatic Career: Prior to taking up his present assignment in April 2010, Ambassador Lokesh has served as Counselor/Minister in Embassy of India, Washington, (November 1994-June 1997); Consul General in Durban (July 1997-November 2000); Ambassador to Slovak Republic (April 2004-June 2007), and Deputy Chief of Mission in Embassy of India, Brussels (August 2007-March 2010). At the initial stage of his diplomatic career, Ambassador Lokesh served at Indian Missions in Kandy and Colombo (Sri Lanka); Embassy of India, Brussels; and, High Commission of India, Lagos. Various assignments handled in India include: Deputy Secretary, Defence Services Staff College, Wellington; Deputy Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations; and Joint Secretary (Africa), in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Between weight and weightlessness of July’s afternoon-desert-heat, it was a perfectly rewarding idea for me to have covered the 130 kms distance which connects Dubai to Abu Dhabi. After my arrival at the Embassy of India, the following result was: an actively wholesome discussion with Ambassador Mr. Lokesh Mysore Kapanaiah who joined his present assignment in April 2010. If you want me to arrive at the conclusion of my interview, I will sum it up now and now, remembering the long ago words of my uncle, who often said, ‘It is an honour to be a diplomat’. For me, it has been a double-honour to have interviewed H. E. Mr. Lokesh Mysore Kapanaiah as he shared the world of diplomacy since he entered the Indian Foreign Service in 1977.

Returning to the introduction of our dialogue, I learnt about Ambassador Lokesh’s southern roots in Mysore, India. His quiet manner of speaking was natural and friendly, indicating, he possesses a vital ingredient for a diplomat’s success. In escalations, that every country inherits unique cultural, social, historical legacy, he spoke, in particular, about his posting in South Africa, as Consul General in Durban (1997-2000). What appealed to him about South Africa were the features of multi-racial society, friendly people, natural resources, picturesque scenery including wild life. Surely, in his favourite recollections, South Africa shows up as ‘a rainbow country’. Pertinently, rechecking with himself as to who coined this special ‘rainbow’ term, he provides the name of Mandela and smiles. In the same way, he took our conversation towards Mahatma Gandhi, his Phoenix Ashram near Durban, and the Mahatma’s grand-daughter Ela Gandhi who was a peace-organizer and an ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa from 1994-2004. ‘There’s no difference between the one and another – in terms of colour and religion’. That’s how Ambassador Lokesh observes and continually praised India as an example of tolerance.

In our discussion, to put that essence in one specific context, the touchstone was the India-UAE ties and friendship. With this in mind, the leading destination of all my questions to Ambassador Lokesh was the well-known legendary connection between both the countries. Articulateness in explaining the figures and treaties between India-UAE – he focused with pride the role Indians have played in the economic growth of the UAE. The Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the UAE: 15-20 percent of the community is made up of professionally qualified personnel. 20 percent belong to the white collar non-professionals. Both countries share historic, cultural ties and making earnest efforts to cultivate regular exchanges at commercial and cultural levels. An Indian Cultural Centre has been opened by ICCR in the premises of the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi since December 2009. Ambassador Lokesh sumptuously gave the figures of Investments and Defence Co-operation. I grasped, the traditionally close ties of India-UAE have evolved into a significant partnership in the economic and commercial levels, with both countries (up to recently) achieving the status of the largest partners of each other in terms of two-way non-oil merchandise.

Additionally, high-level visits from both countries have further strengthened the ties. UAE’s President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan visited India in January 1975 and 1992. In recent times, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited India in March 2007 and in March 2010. Hon’ble President, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil paid 5-day State visit to the UAE in November 2010. She addressed business community in a meeting organized by Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As this interview goes to print, I gather Ambassador Lokesh possesses good knowledge of Tamil, Sinhalese and the French language. It is not hard to believe that his placid manner has the art of simple charm where he has mastered the grace of modesty. Viewing how he replaces publicity with humility must also be included to retain the complete image of the man – Ambassador Lokesh Mysore Kapanaiah.

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. My marriage has been the turning point in life as for many other people. It brings new perspectives, responsibilities and meaning to life and calls for tremendous adjustment.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. Obviously, if we go back in life, we may want to be a lot i.e., many personalities in one. This is not possible. I would just be satisfied to rectify a few major mistakes that I may have committed in the part.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. Dreams are for young people. At my age, I would like to look forward to a healthy and peaceful life and do things I like and haven’t been able to do so far due to official work load.

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