Friday, August 26, 2011

A Man on a Quest

Interview with Sunny Kulathakal

“Seeing people
get the right
is my dream.”
Sunny Kulathakal,
Managing Editor,
SUNLIZ Publications

Sunny Kulathakal is a man on a mission, a quest that can be traced back to his maiden
publication of Gulf Who's Who Directory that featured profiles and portraits of leading decision
makers of all nationalities settled in the Middle East since 1978. A chance tour of the Gulf region
on an assignment about Indians settled in the region changed his world. The journalist turned
publisher recollects: “I was amazed to find a lot of Indians holding key management positions in
the Gulf defying the notion that most of the Indians who land up there can only take up menial
occupations.” Since then, he has been publishing a 600 odd page directory on Bahrain covering
rules and regulations on how to start business ventures and providing an assessment of the
present economic situation in the kingdom.

The directory published by SUNLIZ Publications provides details of the Economic Development Board. Ministries, embassies, Civil Service Bureau, Shura Council, members of parliament, Chamber of Commerce find prominent space.

The latest edition of the Gulf Who's Who Directory 2011- 2012 focuses on Bahrain's Economic
Vision 2030, with a third of its pages dedicated to it. It features 160 interviews and a full listing
of airlines, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, manufacturers, jewellers, associations and
schools, in addition to details of media and advertising agencies. Garden City College occupies
pride of place in the publication. The articulate and debonair persona was at Garden City College
recently where he presented the latest edition of the book to His Excellency Dr Joseph VG,
Honorary Consul of the Republic of Maldives in Maldives in Bangalore and Chairman Garden
City Group of Institutions.

In a freewheeling interview with budding journalists at GCC,
the SUNLIZ Publications Managing Editor shares some insights on the directory and explains how the book has grown from a simple business listing to a useful, information-packed guidebook for both residents and non residents of Bahrain. Excerpts from the chat:

Ms. Ankita Ray: How difficult is it to bring out a publication like ‘Who’s who’ single

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: I had started working for the first edition of ‘Gulf Who’s Who’ in
1977. I wanted to dispel the notion that Indians in the Gulf were only there to take up menial
jobs. Though initially I had faced problems in regards to acceptance of the book, it gradually
gained worldwide popularity. This book is considered a bible by those who are into business
and other occupations all around the globe. Since I handle the entire publication alone, I do face
problems like providing the place of choice for the personalities I feature in the book. However,
I have managed to handle the same maintaining cordial relations with all of them.

Networking isanother very important thing that I have always kept in mind because until one is in good terms with others, the business or exchange of information cannot be done successfully.

Ms. Nameeta Renchi: Bringing out “Gulf Who is Who directory” is not an easy task, what are
the major problems that you faced in compiling the book?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: The designing of the directory cover itself was a trifle difficult. The
cover has the pictures of people introduced inside the book. Every one of them wanted their
pictures to be printed on the front page of the directory which was practically impossible. So this
book is an exercise on human relationships. Maintaining good human relationship is the most
satisfying but a difficult task to achieve.

Ms. Ankita Ray: What is the criterion for choosing the profiles featured in your book?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: Gulf’s Who’s Who is a directory that provides information that one
would require for engaging into business with Bahrain in all its sectors. Therefore, I see to it
that all the necessary and required information that one would look forward to for proposing
a business deal in Bahrain is readily available in my book. In the latest edition, I have also
included details about Bahrain’s vision 2030 where an overall perspective on development of
the country is featured. To be precise, I choose managerial business proprietors, ministers,
diplomats and personalities who have made a mark or excelled in their respective fields to be
featured in my book.

Ms. Ankita Ray: What is your take on media and its changing role in today’s world?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: I have always believed that media and judiciary are the two most
important and obligatory part of every society. With the change of times, we have seen how
the media has altered its role as well, which has sometimes proved to be disastrous. But still
the significant job of bringing awareness and disseminating information to the masses that the
media does, cannot be neglected. Therefore, media always needs to be highlighted. I personally
believe that there are no limits to journalism when practiced for the good. Another thing that I
would like to mention is that India needs a lot of good newspapers that would cover local news
which are most of the time do not fine space in the pages of the main stream newspapers. Thus,
encouragement to community newspapers in my opinion is the need of the hour.

Ms. Nameeta: Gulf is not only a work place for many Keralites but their second home. But in
many Malayalam programmes like Pravaasi Malayalam depict adverse situations that a person
should go through in the Gulf. What is the reality?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: Well, the reality is that people before migrating to Middle East believe
that residing in Gulf is a life time fortune. They will take up jobs with low pay or fly out there
to make money only to lose the little they had. The Indian embassy has in the past helped such
people to return home. I have a simple advice. Be careful with the visa you opt for and adhere to
the regulations in place.

Ms. Greeshma: It is not so often that we find couples working together successfully in their pursuits. What is that comfort zone you share with your wife, Elizabeth in the work place?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: She has stood with me as a pillar of support and a shade of comfort
behind all my successes. She also enjoys the kind of work I do and the benefits that come with it.
We often get to travel across the world to market the book.

Ms. Greeshma: Gulf Asian Magazine that you were associated with as the editor has not been published for quite some time now. Do you have any plans to revive it?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: Indeed it is my wish to revive the publication. It did not happen earlier
because of the economic crisis in Bahrain. But now that we are out of the woods, things are
looking up. When I bring out a magazine or any other publication, I would not want to do so
just for the sake of it. Rather it should serve the people. So when the time comes I will do that

Ms. Nameeta Renchi: Students after completing their higher secondary education in Bahrain or any other parts of Middle East, come down to India to pursue their higher studies. It is the same in the case with NRI’s. Is it because of the quality of the education provided here?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: Yes, India has good universities and colleges compared to the Middle
East and greater learning opportunities. Many students from Bahrain are studying here as well. I have been working on ways to help deserving students from the Gulf come to study in Bangalore and other Indian cities.

Ms. Ankita Ray: How different is life in Bahrain when compared to India?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: I have lived a non resident life but my mind has always been rooted
in my home soil. I am contact with my homeland at all times. Bangalore remains my favourite
city for its allure and charm. I am in love with its attractions, the greenery, climate, educational
institutions, and just about everything the city boasts of. Recently, the Prime Minister of Bahrain
asked me the best place to visit in India. I recommended Bangalore without any second thoughts.

It is India’s naturally air conditioned city.

Ms. Ankita Ray: What is your message to the students of Garden City College?

Mr. Sunny Kulathakal: Firstly, I would like to salute His Excellency Dr Joseph VG, Honorary
Consul of the Republic of Maldives in Maldives in Bangalore and Chairman Garden City Group
of Institutions for his astute leadership and guidance. The way he has gone about building ‘this
educational haven’ shows his devotion and the undivided attention he has been providing the
college for the welfare and all round development of the students. I would be happy if the
students utilize the facilities provided to them and be the agents of publicity for the college.
Graduates from this college have the potential to compete with the best from any part of the

BOX ITEM along with his picture....
A native of Marammon, Kerala Sunny Kulathakal completed his journalistic training
in Malayala Manorama and later became a dynamic activist in YMCA. Widely
travelled in India and abroad, he served as Development Director of Bangalore United
Theological College for eight years. Settled in Bahrain at present, he is running an
own publication named SUNLIZ Publications along with his wife SK Elizabeth. Sunny
as he is affectionately known has made commendable marks in the fields of public
relations, media consultancy and advertising. He is the Managing Editor of Gulf’s,
Who’s Who Directory and Gulf Asian Magazine. Aside, he served as feature editor of
the Anglo-Arab Magazine, Nazreth Al Khaleej and worked as correspondent in different
newspapers being published from Dubai. His books, Story of a Martyr, The World of
Drugs and The World of Prostitutes have been well received. The Kulathakal’s are
blessed with three children, all of them settled in the US.

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