David Malone was the Canadian High Commissioner in 2006; now he is a writer

David Malone, president of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, was in Bangalore last week to launch his book on Indian foreign policy. Sprightly and vivacious, Malone thrusts out his hand to greet me.

Our conversation began with a discussion of The Hindu. Malone enunciates each syllable clearly as he moves on to discuss his book, Does the Elephant Dance? “The sources of the book are overwhelmingly Indian unlike other books about Indian foreign policy. I wanted to clearly show that Indian thinking is driving foreign policy,” said Malone.

The writer has had a long association with India and has visited the country since the seventies.

He grew up in ‘sombre' Iran and when he first came to India, he was blown away by the amazing “riot of colours”. While continuing to visit here, he embarked on a distinguished career as foreign service officer and an occasional scholar for Canada. He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford and headed an international think tank in New York for several years. His engagement with India reached its peak when he became the Canadian High Commissioner in 2006.

“Diplomats are looked at with a mixture of respect and suspicion; being a diplomat means you distance yourself from the people. I tried very hard to seriously engage with India during my time here,” said Malone. The Canadian Embassy in India is one of its largest in the world; Malone was responsible for a staff of 500 across south Asia.

Malone gets very excited when he discusses his job as head of the IDRC, an international institution which works ‘in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges facing developing countries'. It supports nine think tanks in India.

He calls himself an occasional scholar who began to seriously write in his forties. His book on the United Nations Security Council and its relation with Iraq published in 2006 did very well in India. “This notion that people are not interested in India is very wrong...” he finishes off before he rushes off to another meeting.

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Dropping InMarch 9, 2011