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Personal Background

Mr. Sheshabalaya is part of both New and Old India, and therefore well equipped to interpret the forces of change in his country today. He hails from a prominent Indian family with zamindari (feudal) roots and a strong presence in government, the liberal professions and academia. Along with his Belgian-born wife Ilse and their son Ishan, Mr. Sheshabalaya now lives in a 150-year old farmhouse in the Walloon countryside west of Brussels, where he indulges in two of his favorite pastimes: motorcycles and shooting.

Mr. Sheshabalaya's parents were both university Vice Chancellors, and he was brought up in a home with a library of 25,000 books. His mother was a gold medallist at India's Allahabad University, and then a Fulbright Scholar at the Universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota in the US (graduating with all A grades). His father was an alumnus of Harvard and Columbia Universities in the US, Christ Church at Britain's Oxford and the World Bank's Economic Development Institute in Washington DC. One of Mr. Sheshabalaya's grandfathers, Rai Bahadur Durga Charan Das, was a federal Commissioner in British India and then responsible for government liaison at the Tata conglomerate; the other, Prof. Radhakrishna Das, was Dean of one of India's oldest colleges, Ravenshaw. His granduncle Nityanand Kanungo, a prominent freedom fighter, was Minister of Industry in independent India's first (Nehru) government and then Governor of Bihar and Gujarat. Mr. Sheshabalaya's grandmother Nirmala Devi was a poetess and recipient of the Sahitya Akademi (Academy of Arts) award; her sister Sarala Devi was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and among India's first elected woman legislators.

Mr. Sheshabalaya's family also counts among its ranks top academics (in India and the US), artists, diplomats, judges, two Major Generals and seven members of the elite Indian Administrative Service (a hub of Old India).

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