Pen Drivehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/pen-drive-2/

Pen Drive

They are experts in writing joint statements,but now a growing number of serving Indian diplomats are penning books

He is the current Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. In charge of UN affairs relating to economic and social issues,TS Tirumurti was one of India’s main interlocutors when the UN Human Rights Council adopted the resolution on Sri Lanka recently. However,what many do not know about this 1985-batch Indian Foreign Service officer is his penchant for writing. “I started writing at night to unwind and take my mind off from work,” he states,sharing how the process of wielding the pen began years ago,when he was the director at the foreign secretary’s office. While his first novel,Clive Avenue,released in 2002,now,Tirumurti has published another book,Chennaivaasi. A romantic novel set in the heart of Chennai,this narrates the tale of a Tamil-Brahmin boy who falls in love with a Jewish-American girl. The duo travel to seek the consent of their parents for marriage.

While Tirumurti waits for feedback from the readers,he is excited about the growing fraternity of diplomats who are turning into authors. “For the first time,Indian diplomats are taking up fiction writing seriously and are able to sustain it,” he says.

The bookshelves are an indicator. Leading the pack is Vikas Swarup,Indian Consul General in Osaka. If his bestseller Q&A was adapted into Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire,now Swarup has come out with his second book,Six Suspects. Also on a pen drive is Navtej Sarna,India’s ambassador to Israel,who’s first novel We Weren’t Lovers Like That was published in 2003. A regular at the Jaipur Literature Festival,he has also penned The Book of Nanak and The Exile.

Pavan K Varma,Indian envoy in Bhutan,also has several books to his credit,including Ghalib: The Man,The Times,Krishna: The Playful Divine,The Great Indian Middle Class,The Book of Krishna and Being Indian,all published by Penguin. He has also translated Gulzar (Selected Poems),Kaifi Azmi (Selected Poems) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (21 Poems) into English.

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Also dabbling with translation is Navdeep Suri,another IFS officer,who started the Twitter,Facebook and social media connect of the MEA. Suri has stepped into the world of writing with A Life Incomplete and The Saintly Sinner (relaunched as The Watchmaker). Both are translations of his grandfather Nanak Singh’s works.

Even though his colleagues seem to be partial to novels,Abhay Kumar,who is now posted in Kathmandu,has written several poems. He has to his credit several books,from Remains to Candling the Light,Fallen Leaves of Autumn and Enigmatic Love,apart from the non-fiction novel River Valley to Silicon Valley.

While they borrow from their experiences,the diplomats have their own writing styles. “I believe in minimal writing and maximum impact,” says Tirumurti,who is related to renowned author RK Narayan. “He is my uncle and a hero to me,” notes Tirumurti,who has also written a travelogue on the Mansarovar Yatra.

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