Mrs Ira Malhotra: Our first lady of the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, a crusader for the cause of education

Shegufa Merchant (IIK); Photo: Anwar Sadath Thalassery
Monday, May 3, 2010

A woman who is a student of human behaviour, a psychologist, an academic, a researcher by nature and a passionate educationist … she is also a woman in love … with pottery!!! Yes, our very own first lady of the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, Mrs. Ira Malhotra, is a woman of pure substance. In our meeting with her about a fortnight ago, as (IIK) asked her about her life we discovered in her a crusader for the cause of education and, quite in contrast, also a person who has matured to a fine level of peace, accepting and making the best of what life has to offer and then spicing it up with the ingredients of a true Indian at heart!

: Mrs. Malhotra, we know you are highly qualified with a MPhil in Psychology. You have been involved with Education. Please tell us more about yourself and your journey till date.

Mrs. Malhotra: I am basically a student of human behavior. I am curious about everything and enjoy observing and learning. I have a Masters in Psychology from Delhi University and a M.Phil. in Psychology from Jawaharlal Nehru University. I also started work on my Ph.D thesis entitled ‘Personality Characteristics of Effective Teachers in Higher Education’, but got married before I submitted my doctoral thesis.  While on a home posting I was offered the opportunity to help set up a school in New Delhi and I took up the challenge. I worked as a Resource Person involved with their Teacher Development and Curriculum Development programmes. I was very interested in promoting education that went beyond imparting skills and providing an educational qualification to the child, to also considering the psychology of the child and the inculcation of values. Later, as the founding Editor of ‘Parenting’ magazine in India, I had ample opportunity to put my educational background and ideas to use in an area that is very dear to me.

IIK: What are your views on Education in India ?

Mrs. Malhotra: Education is not only to qualify a student academically, but should also encompass the entire personality. It is not merely about imparting information to a child. It should make the child constantly curious to learn and inculcate humanistic values in the citizens of tomorrow. A striking feature of education in India is that it follows a slightly rigid pattern and is extremely competitive. In contrast, education in the western world is less so and encompasses a wider range of extra curricular activities. We should take the best from both systems to make a workable and sustainable amalgam for imparting a quality education and a life-long quest for learning to our children..

IIK: Your passion for education is obvious, what are your other interests?

Mrs. Malhotra: I love the arts and crafts. I have great respect for the craftspeople of India and other parts of the world. They have a compulsive and innate need to create. The fine work, the patience and the whole idea of creating something must be their driving force. I love all handwork and craft, but am especially partial to textiles and pottery. I did a college course in hand-built pottery during my stay in the USA. I love working with my hands and clay and it is something that I can spend a whole day engaged in, without feeling bored. There is something very therapeutic about working with clay. For me, it is not only the feeling of creating something, but I have a philosophical view about working with clay. It teaches us many lessons of life. One can beat the clay into any shape you want, yet the clay has a life and mind of its own. You may plan and visualize it to be something, still, the final product can come out completely different. Irrespective of how it turns out, ugly or beautiful, it is still your own creation, and you love it. There are so many areas of life that this message can be carried over to. There is something very basic and beautiful about pots. They are non pretentious and yet strong and useful. We cook in them, eat in them, drink from them, serve and share in them..

IIK: Please tell us about your children.

Mrs. Malhotra: We have two children, a daughter and a son. Our daughter has a Masters in International Affairs from New York and is currently working in New Delhi. Her areas of interest encompass public health, design, art, mapping and photography. Our son has a BA in History and Sociology, is presently interning in New Delhi, and will be returning to the US later this year to pursue a Masters in International Affairs. His areas of interest include music and current affairs.

IIK: Do you feel overshadowed as an educated woman by your husband’s career?

Mrs. Malhotra: No, I am extremely proud and happy for him. His career is of his choice and making and I respect that. Getting married to a diplomat was a choice I made and I knew I would have to make adjustments, given the kind of life we lead. There have been many women in a similar position to me who have carved out a path for themselves. Teaching at a university was a career interest for me. I didn’t follow it through, but had opportunities to do other things. I look at things very  philosophically. The wealth of exposure that I have got would never have happened any other way. Besides, I have been very busy supporting and anchoring my family through all the years of moving across so many countries and have enjoyed every move and experience.

IIK: How do you balance your personal routine with the constantly changing scenario in so many countries? Don’t you and your kids feel uprooted and lose friends?

Mrs. Malhotra: In all we have gained and learned a lot. Our Government has a very supportive policy whereby our children either attend Indian schools, international schools or at least schools where the medium of instruction is English. So even though adjustments had to be made, there was a certain degree of continuity for the children. There can also be some benefits of growing up in a diverse, multi-cultural environment. Still, it is because of the frequent changes that I felt it so necessary to be the anchor for our children. Both my husband and I have an army family background, so we are reasonably attuned to such a way of life. Even then we were constantly moving from one posting to another with our families and have lived happily this way.

IIK: How would you define your journey towards serving India through your husband’s professional obligations?

Mrs. Malhotra: The journey has been enriching and it is a great privilege and honour for me to represent my country. My role while doing so is indirect and informal. I interact with foreigners and Indians. With foreigners I provide insights about India and an exposure to my country. I also help change stereotypical views of India that may have developed over the years. I basically engage in activities that will strengthe

Express your comment on this article

Jay Thomas
Monday, February 14, 2011
it is nice and thanks to god for giving a lovable mind to our first lady.

Sunday, February 6, 2011
Thanks GOD...and Thanks to Ambassador Malhotra and his great service to his community..

Fernandes Maria SM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
First and foremost job-well-done on the interview with the First Lady.

Just recently when I visited the Embassy, I was taken back how the embassy has changed positively, everything has become very systematic, the employees are helpful, everyone was treated equally, i would say - PRIME AND PROPAHHH....

I wish the embassy has an OPEN DAY once a year, where we get to meet HE, the Lady and other delegates.

As the First Lady mentioned in her interview - Indians are well known in the outside world which is very true. I am very proud to be an Indian. God Bless.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Impressive interview...

Monday, December 6, 2010
Indian ambassadors in Kuwait have come a long way since I came to Kuwait in 1999. From being a shame to be a Hindi today we are slowly progressing to be proud to be an Indian thanks to people like our current Amassador. The first time I visited the Indian Embassy I wanted to surrender my Indian passport and emmigrate to Canada ASAP. Remember there was an Indian ambassador that took a bribe !! Another one that used to be holed up in an appartment in Abassiya? Today we have an Ambassador who works very tirelessly and tries to make the case of Indians in Kuwait improve in any way he can. Let us hope we get the next one atleast this capable. Else we will start getting called Hindi and not Indians again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010
Dear madem,

I am working in Diabetic foot clinic, once you and mother visited my clinic in Mubarak al kabeer hospital, Jabriya,,,

India will become the capital of diabetes in 2015-2025.

Our diabetic population is increasing by day by day.

diabetic foot complications also increasing.

There is no school or official institute is teaching PODIATRY courses.

AND ALSO i would like to SERVE MY KNOWLEDGE IN PODIATRY AND WOUND CARE MANAGEMENT for our army/airforce/navy .

If you can please let me know.


and only one in Kuwait working in the Ministry of health- Kuwait

NB: please send reply

GOPAKUMAR,(BSc, Bsc(pod), Dip.SAC(UK) ,IIWCC (Canada).






Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
My best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Malhothra. Is there any forum to convey our grievances to the Ambassador. Is any body aware of few facts ...... One of the indian schools... FAIPS DPS, Fahaheel is collecting double the fees when compared to other schools... It is fine.... if they are providing good infrasructure facilities and bring good teachers on deputation. Does any body know that FAIPS is conducting classes (9th- 12th) in the soaring temperature without AIR CONDITIONING??? Our children are sitting in the classroom ovens. Is n't it cruelty to the children. Many parents have complained ..but no positive results. Many keep quiet as they are scared. CAn our first lady do anything regarding this??

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Dear Fayaz,

i read your comment and the request for the benefits of all indians who are getting difficulties while coming to kuwait.

thanks for that,but i have noticed one thing in your comments that,I hope Ira Malhotra is not our Ambassador.

Murali Manohar A V
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Very informative and very impressive interview given by our First Lady.

Great to know about Smt. Malhotra Garu and with her educational background.

Best wishes to H.E and his family.

Thanks to Indians in Kuwait for bringing us the interview.

Mukul Mujumdar
Friday, May 7, 2010
Felt Great pleasure and proud going thru the interview. I do was associated with newspaper in India as a daily Cartoonist apart from my services as an engineer to a leading firm in central India. I do not agree with the term less fortunate, as mentioned by Madam. Man is the creator of his own destiny. I strongly beleive that Luck & Hard work are two parallel lines which often meets many times in life time. We should keep on doing hard work in right direction so that the line for it should not become short at the time of intersection with luck line.

Best wishes to Mr.& Mrs. Malhotra

S. Fayaz Ahamed
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You are most welcome to Kuwait. We Indian so glad to see you as our first lady Indian Ambassador. We wish you all best and bright future. I have gone through your interview in which impressed me about your human behaviour. It means you are going to observe the activities and situation of Indians in Kuwait. The second thing is you mentioned that as to know some thing related to Indians in Kuwait usually visit the IIK. Hope you may find my reply on your interview.

Madam, the main cause of writing this mail is to convey the message is that we are so happy by working here but those who wants to come to Kuwait on employment visas from India are facing lot of problems like PPC, Immigrations, employment agreements etc., Many peoples have dropped their ambition by loosing the validity of their visas due to non issuance of PPC other documents. So please kindly do some thing in order to solve these problems so that our Indians can join Kuwait to survive their families.

Hope your attitude towards human behaviour may workout and useful for whole Indian Community.

We are so grateful to you for your commencement.

Yours sincerely,

Shaik Fayaz Ahamed


Shiny Frank
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Hello IIK,

Kindly arrange more interviews of such type ..inluding indians of all categories...

Mrs. Ira Malhotra, holder of M. Phil in Psychology, I hope that she is the right person to help the indian families in kuwait who find difficult with their children's psychological disorders...such as counselling parents, Assessing the kids,Awareness seminars...etc.

Monday, May 3, 2010
Yaa i m also really impress by reading interview . And really good to c u her in Kuwait.GOOD LUCK .

Monday, May 3, 2010
It's nice to know that our first lady is such an educationalist.Very impressive interview . Thanks IIK . All the best

Monday, May 3, 2010
Thanks to IIK for publishing this interview.
Happy to read more about our first lady. My best wishes to Mr & Mr Malhotra.

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