I believe that we, in South Asia, must strive much harder, overcoming political mistrust and the hurdles of history, to walk together, our minds as one, negotiating the paths of peace.

​Connectivity – whether infrastructural, through trade and commerce, cooperation to prevent and mitigate natural disasters, the vagaries of climate, as well as people-to-people connectivity – is of the essence. Shackles need to be broken and our vision of peace must soar, and provide a point of take-off.

~ Nirupama Menon Rao

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Nirupama Menon Rao

Born in Kerala, India, Nirupama Menon Rao is a retired Indian diplomat, Foreign Secretary and Ambassador. She  joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973. During her four-decade-long diplomatic career she held several important assignments. She was India’s first woman spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, the first woman high commissioner from her country to Sri Lanka, and the first Indian woman ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. She served as India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009-2011. At the end of that term, she was appointed India’s Ambassador to the United States where she served for a term of two years from 2011-2013. On her retirement from active diplomatic service, Ambassador Rao entered the world of academics with an appointment as Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow at the India Initiative at Brown University in  Providence, Rhode Island.  Ms. Rao has continued to pursue her academic interests and  taught an undergraduate seminar at Brown University titled “India in the World” in 2015 and 2016.  In retirement, Ambassador Rao has also pursued her passion for music. Her first commercial album, entitled “Peace is My Dream”, produced by the Peninsula Studios in New Delhi,  was released in December 2017 by the Universal Music Group (India) label and can be digitally accessed on iTunes (India) , Saavn.com and Spotify. Rao is also a published poet. Her book of poems, “Rain Rising”, published by Rupa & Co., a Delhi-based publishing house, was published in 2004.

In the Summer of 2018, Ambassador Rao and her husband Sudhakar,  set up a Bangalore-based Trust called The South Asian Symphony Foundation to further the cause of peace and mutual understanding in South Asia through the medium of music. 

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