Wednesday, February 24, 2016







H.E. Ambassador Niankoro Yeah Samake serves as the second Malian Ambassador to the Republic of India. He was nominated by the Malian President His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in May 2015. Ambassador Samake has a distinguished career in the private and public sectors. From 2009 until his appointment as Ambassador he served as Mayor of the city of Ouelessebougou, Mali. His commitment to improving rural conditions in Mali and development expertise has allowed him to serve in the capacity of Director/Consultant to the Empower Mali foundation and others. He has also served as a Special Envoy to two Prime Ministers during which time he shared the political and social perspectives of the Malian government with multilateral/bilateral partners. He brings to the post his experience in diplomacy, international development and a commitment to strengthen ties between the Republic of Mali and the governments of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand Ambassador Samake has an MA in Public Policy from Bringham Young University, Utah, USA and BA from École Normale Supérieure in Bamako, Mali. He and his wife Marissa have two children. 



Mr Nhial is currently the Secretary General of the Government of South Sudan as well as the Vice President (East Africa) for the Council of African Cabinet Secretaries. He was appointed SG in 2005 and has remained in that position through the birth of South Sudan as an independent nation. He is Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, playing a major role in the establishment of the National Council of Ministers. He was a member of the National Constitution Review Commission and the subsequent Drafting Committee that prepared the Constitution of Southern Sudan in 2005. He holds a BA (Hons) in English and Political Science from the University of Khartoum, and a Diploma from the Management Institute in Khartoum. Following work on development projects (such as the FAO Integrated Rural Development Project in the Jonglei Canal Area), he went into exile in 1990 following the coup d’etat that brought Omar el Bashir to power. Between 1990 and 2005 he represented the Southern Sudan umbrella political alliance, Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP) in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) based in Cairo. He has been widely acclaimed for his efforts in restoring the ‘lost boys’ back to their ancestral land.



Venerable Bangala Upatissa Thero was born in the remote village of Bangala. He joined the Mahabodhi Society Buddhist Missionary Service at age 11, became a pupil Buddhist Monk [Samanera] under Venerable Hedigalle Pannatissa Maha Nayaka Thera, Chief Sangha Nayaka for India at 17, received higher ordaination at 20, and mastered the Japanese language at 26. He obtained university degrees in India, diploma in child education, opened 14 Sri Lankan kindergartens with Venerable Priests in Japan, and established the Japan Sri Lanka Buddhist and Cultural Centre and the Lanka-Ji Temple with Shukyo Hojin status, legally recognized by Japanese Government. He was elevated to Chief Head Priest for Sri Lanka in Japan and Head Priest of Mahabodhi Aggra Srawaka Maha Vihara, where holy relics of Buddha’s chief disciples are kept. The Sri Lankan government recognized his contributions to social development and rehabilitation making him Rev. Bangala Upatissa, authorized representative of disabled persons for the Ministry of Social Services in Japan.



Dr. A.S. Ravindra Rao retired in 2009 from his dental practice in Bangalore, to take up the position of Director, Asia Plateau the Initiatives of Change centre in India. He was a member of IofC’s International Council and holds trustee in the board of trustees of "Friends of Moral Re-Armament (India)" the Indian IofC legal body. In 1964 he took a break from his career and worked as full time volunteer for MRA in India and abroad. His work in Eastern India shifted philosophies of extreme left-wing activists, who surrendered their weapons to embrace IofC. He later spent time working with a Dental Hospital in Sheffield, UK before moving back to Bangalore to start his private dental practice, specializing in Dental Implants. 30 years later he retired to support his wife in setting up "Grampari" at Panchgani. Dr Rao currently works in administration of AP, is on the faculty for several of AP’s programmes and has interest in delivering IofC’s message in a contemporary language by drawing on Indian and other Asian traditions. The Government of Maharashtra has appointed him a member of the Board of Governors of the reputed 'YASHADA', the training centre for all state government officers.



In the course of her decade-long career, Ruchi Bhimani has been involved with several landmark films. With her training and experience in multiple departments of filmmaking including casting, art, writing, sound & editing, she brings a unique vision to her choice of projects.  Ruchi has worked closely with Vice UK on several projects, including an award-winning music video for the UK-based band, Django Django. In 2010, she soon took over as producer at Recyclewala Films, and then spearheaded the successful theatrical release of the National Award-winning documentary Gulabi Gang, she is now co-producing a political documentary with Anand Gandhi, Proposition for a Revolution. Ruchi has been in attendance at recent editions of leading film festival markets like the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlinale and the Toronto International Festival. She works with creative alliances across cultural boundaries to produce films that speak a universal language; currently producer at One-Eyed Turtle Films.



Archana Rao did her masters in Development Economics from SOAS, UK and is the Associate Director of Grampari, the rural and ecological centre of IofC based at Asia Plateau in India. She looks after the springs protection and recharge programme, providing clean drinking water to villages as well as raising awareness and influencing policy about aquifer protection and ground water. She has run the internship programme at Asia Plateau and anchored the recent Just Governance Dialogue 2015. The next Just Governance Dialogue will take place in February 2016 at Asia Plateau and will be co-anchored by her. Previously, she worked for many years in publishing at Faber and Faber in the United Kingdom setting up and looking after the Middle East and Far East markets.  



Siddharth Singh currently lives in Mumbai, India. He is a facilitator by training and has been involved with various projects of Initiatives of Change in the Asia Pacific region. He designs and facilitates various conferences and training programs at ‘Asia Plateau’, the IofC training and conference centre in India. Siddharth has been involved in organising the annual dialogues at Asia Plateau under the title “Making Democracy Real’ and ‘Just Governance’. Currently his responsibilities with IofC include serving on the board of trustees and the Executive Committee in India, as well on various program organising teams in the Asia Pacific region. Siddharth also is a partner in a learning & development consulting firm ‘Paradigms Unlimited’ and spends part of his time working with businesses in the field of leadership development. He believes he is a student of life and that all important lessons to be learnt are hidden in plain view of how nature works.



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