A Man of Diplomacy, Dignity and Distinction
Meet the New Indian Ambassador to Bahrain
By Richard Moras, with input from Vijay Boloor, 'Bahrain This Month'
Bahrain, October 18: Representing India as ambassador in any country of the world is the greatest honour. When one of our own men receives this honor, then the entire native territory should feel proud of the achiever. Yes, 55-year-old Kundapur-born Balakrishna Shetty has made not only the Bunt community proud, but the entire Mangalorean community around the globe as well.
Balakrishna Shetty has recently taken over as the new ambassador for India in the Kingdom of Bahrain. He is the very first Kannadiga to occupy the prestigious post of ambassador in Bahrain.
A simple personality with extensive experience and knowledge, Shetty is committed to the service of the Indian community. He is well versed with multiple facets of the domain of public service. He is also a prolific orator and has shown dedication to social and cultural values.
"I am a very modest man and I do not have many abilities," is how Shetty describes himself. In a manner of speaking, it is far from the truth because when he says so, he is only trying to be modest. When he speaks, there is an immense concentration of enthusiasm and energy in every word.
"A large chunk of my work will revolve around the welfare of the Indian community here, as well as strengthening our good relationship with Bahrain."
He is a multi-talented man, with varied interests; he speaks of cricket with a total grip over the subject and passion; he is a mathematician and a chronic optimist. He is computer-savvy and multilingual; and he is absolutely clear and focused as to the scope of his new assignment.
Shetty feels Bahrain, his first posting in the Middle East, is going to be a special assignment and he is looking forward to an interesting tenure. "I have been overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception I have already been accorded," he noted with humility.
A career diplomat, Shetty has worked for the Indian Foreign Service for 29 years, both in India and abroad. Before arriving in Bahrain, his immediate past overseas postings saw him overseeing Indian interests in six West African countries.
Responsible for Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Republic of Mali, Republic of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde Islands, he found the experience both fascinating and satisfying. Amongst his accomplishments, Shetty singled out the opportunity to initiate the process of cooperation in the transport sector between India and Singapore.
Shetty was born in Kundapur, in the state of Karnataka, and has lived in Jabalpur and Calcutta, where he received his education. He married in 1977 and has two grown-up children who are a great support to him.
"I also intend to be deeply involved with promoting Indian businesses," Shetty continued. "New opportunities are continuously opening up, and we need to capitalize on these through marketing." In earlier assignments in France, Singapore and Bangladesh, Shetty worked on promotions linked to economics, finance and trade.
Cricket is the game loved by all Indians, and the ambassador is no exception. When asked if he was any good at the sport, Shetty modestly replied he was a good bowler and slip fielder. Besides being a good table tennis player, he also aims to brush up his skills in the game of golf during his stay in Bahrain.
His hobbies are reading and watching movies; his fascination for science fiction is intense, and he loves to explore the impact of science and technology on human values.
The mathematician in him has sparked his keen interest in other areas such as the Internet, "People like or dislike mathematics because of the way teachers teach it," is his observation. He is writing a book on the subject.
His enthusiasm for Mathematics will ensure Indian school children are not allowed to see their high standards drop in this area. Shetty sees theories like abstract maths and fuzzy logic not just as intellectual exercises but as a route towards future wealth and an excellent means of communication.
With regard to the great transformation taking place in India, he says, "I believe the world has an outdated image of India." And he aims at changing that perception, and is quite happy to make presentations himself to expand on, as he sees it, the new India. "India has changed and perhaps you should change your perception of India so that you can benefit from it," he recalled having replied to a question from the audience at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in 1999, at which he was invited to speak.
Beneath the quiet exterior, there lies a man with a clear sense of purpose.
The Indian community has a new flag-bearer whom they can trust to promote and protect their interests.
Here is the brief profile of Balakrishna Shetty
Educational Qualification: B.Sc.(Mathematics) from Presidency College, Kolkata, 1970; M.Sc. (Mathematics) from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, 1972
- Researcher, School Of Mathematics, Tata Institute Of Fundamental
- Research, Mumbai (1972-73)
- Joined Indian Statistical Service In 1973 - Under Training (1973-75).
- Assistant Director, Central Statistical Orgainization, New Delhi (1975-76)
- Joined Indian Foreign Service In 1976 - Under Training (1976-78)
- Third Secretary (Language Trainee)/Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, Geneva (1978-84)
- Second Secretary (Information And Culture)/First Secretary ( Economic And Commercial), High Commission Of India, Dhaka (1981-84)
- Under Secretary (Economic Division), Ministry Of External Affairs, Government Of India, New Delhi (1984)
- Under Secretary (State Trading And Overseas Investment), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, New Delhi (1984-86)
- Deputy Director General (Administration), Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi (1986-88)
- First Secretary/Counsellor (Political), Embassy of India, Moscow (1988-91)
- Deputy High Commissioner, High Commissioner of India, Singapore (1991 - 95)
- Director /Joint Secretary (Technical Co-Operation), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi (1995 - 97)
- Joint Secretary (Foreign Service Institute), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi (1997)
- Minister (Economic), Embassy of India, Paris (1997-2001)
- Ambassador of India to Senegral, Cape Verde Islands (Praia), Guinea Bissau (Bissau), Mali (Bamako), Mauritania and As High Commissioner to Gambia (2001-2005)
- Served as member of the working committee for the Devanahalli International Airport
Family: Married with two children - a boy and a girl