Bangalore-based NRI Sunny Kulathakal has a knack and penchant for treading roads less taken. A self-made man, always keen to explore new realms, one who can spot an opportunity ahead of others and work tirelessly to achieve goals. That is Sunny who had set an amazing record in networking in an era sans computers. An organizer extraordinaire, writer, journalist and social activist, he immensely values the trait of reaching out to people and zealously preserving the links. His friendships span continents and races. This amazing capacity to win friends has drawn him to the Diaspora making him a familiar face at international gatherings of people of Indian origin. M K Chandra Bose, who has been associated with Sunny Kulathakal for a long time, reminisces about him for the readers of NRI Achievers …
The disarming smile that can floor anyone is Sunny’s unique trait. What has drawn me to Sunny is his enviable trait to build friendships and nurture it even under adverse circumstances. The trait of retaining friendships for decades is difficult to emulate. Over the years he has amassed a string of amazing enduring contacts that range from neighborhood shopkeepers to national and international figures. He has been on equal terms with Kings, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, industrial magnates and media moguls across the globe. As one who realized the value of networking in the pre-computer era, success in his ventures was assured. The runaway success of his ‘Gulf Who’s Who’ can be traced to his trait of putting premium on personal contacts.
His first trip to Dubai on a reporting assignment in 1977 was a game-changer. The plight of expatriate Indians braving the inhospitable environment of the desert drew him closer to the diaspora causes. His stories on the expatriate Indians toiling in the desert to uplift their families back home created ripples in India. I find Sunny’s infinite capacity to come to the aid of people in need quite astonishing. Be it the case of someone caught in bureaucratic red tape, a person at the receiving end of police high handedness, even a distressed parent looking for his lost son or a Gulf expatriate struggling to make a living, Sunny is always there to lend a helping hand. Sunny recalls an incident in Houston during his visit there when an elderly woman hailing from Kerala spotted him at a gathering and profusely thanked him for restoring her missing son some thirty years earlier. Those are the moments that he cherishes most. Hailing from a family of priests, compassion comes naturally to him.
Former Meghalaya Governor M M Jacob vividly remembers how he used to ride pillion on Sunny’s rickety scooter years ago during a visit to Bangalore. Whenever he visits Bangalore he invariably stays with Sunny discarding official trappings. There are also several other politicians who enjoy Sunny’s hospitality frequently. I have fond memories of the time I have spent with Sunny at his farm near Bangalore.A Supreme Court judge hailing from Karnataka often says that Sunny was instrumental in his continuation as a judge.
A born organizer, writer, journalist and social activist, he immensely values the trait of reaching out to people and zealously guarding the links. This amazing capacity has drawn him to the Diaspora making him a familiar face at international gatherings of people of Indian origin. Before the advent of Internet and social media he treasured the value of reaching out to people. This has stood him in good stead culminating in the success of Gulf Who’s Who Directory which has established itself as an effective tool in networking. Published from Bahrain, an oasis of progress in the Gulf region and a melting pot of different cultures, the Directory has become indispensable for millions in the region. In a reader-friendly format, the Directory provides a mountain of information on the people who have contributed in some way to the development and prosperity of the Gulf countries. The publication has managed to bring together industrialists, policy-makers, professionals, diplomats and ministers from diverse backgrounds and nationalities under one masthead. It offers info on anyone who matters, whom to contact in an organization and how to explore business opportunities in the region.
Based out of Bahrain as the Global Ambassador of the GOPIO, Sunny is actively involved in alleviating the misery of expatriates. The success of the Kochi convention of GOPIO owes a lot to Sunny. As the then Vice President of GOPIO International and chairman of the Organizing Committee, his tireless efforts in forming various GOPIO chapters including those in London, Bangalore and Kochi culminated in organizing the successful jamboree of PIOs and NRIs in Kochi two years ago. Sunny’s penchant for braving adversities with confidence is something worthy of emulation by the younger generation. In the seventies without the help of even a telephone directory venturing into a project like Gulf Who’s Who and making it a success needed rare audacity. He is second to none in spotting an opportunity ahead and exploiting it to the hilt. He is a self-made man who is always eager to explore new realms. At heart a Central Travancore farmer, Sunny cherishes his strong family bonds with his wife Elizabeth acting as a pillar of strength in all his ventures. He may be turning 70 but he has the zest for life and vigor that will be the envy of a 21-year-old.