Up and Close With Shashi Tharoor
From World peace to eve-teasing, author and diplomat Dr. Shashi Tharoor speaks to Ruchi M Roy in Houston, Texas after the recent release of his book The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cell phone.
Irrespective of the speculations regarding Tharoor’s run for the post of UN Secretary General in 2006 one cannot ignore the author and orator with the mesmerizing smile. Recently on a visit to Houston where he was the keynote speaker for The Indo American Chamber Of Commerce of Greater Houston, Dr. Tharoor spoke on ‘India’s Soft Power In the 21st Century World’.
On his post UN life Shashi Tharoor has taken over as the Chairman of Dubai based Afras Ventures and spends a lot of time writing and public speaking. Afras is a Dubai based company but is very much targeted towards India’s development. He said that the company’s goal is to make a difference in people’s lives and at the same time make a profit through different business ventures. “We are looking at several sectors at the moment. One of the major start ups is getting into aspects of training people in the current professional environment,” tells Dr. Tharoor.
His recently released The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cell phone which draws attention to how over the past 25 years, India has moved from a largely impoverished underdeveloped country to a bustling, innovative, fast changing society. “The book is a collection of essays on how and why. It reflects upon the stupendous change in India especially its economical transition,” he informed.
While talking about India’s economic growth, Shashi did express concern over certain social evils in the society that bring about cultural set backs and hamper women empowerment. “Eve-teasing is a rampant social vice and its punishment must be taken seriously,” says Dr. Tharoor. He also added that it is more prevalent in certain parts of India where women are still not considered equal. “One cannot generalize, but yes it is because of the double standards or popular notions that divides the domesticated women from the women that are up and about earning a living,” he added.
“However at the same time India does have some good examples, like Mayavati, who has been elected in the state of Uttar Pradesh.”
Born in London in 1956, Dr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a Ph. D. in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he received the Robert B. Stewart Prize for Best Student.
Shashi had spent a good three years in Kolkata, India from the late 60s to the mid 70s where he went to St. Xavier’s College. “My ex- wife is half Bengali and subsequently for twenty-two years her home was my home,” recollects Shashi. “I was in the city when it had its share of political upheavals, yet cannot but miss and love Kolkata for its people, coffee houses and the English language theatre,” he said. His twin sons Ishaan and Kanishak share a special bond with the city of joy.
In January 1998, Dr. Tharoor was named a “Global Leader of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His passion for writing is no coincidence. He hated science and developed a knack for writing. A voracious reader, Shashi got his first writing published when he was just eleven.
An award winning author of nine books Shashi Tharoor has five non-fiction books that have been translated into French, German, Italian, Malayalam, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Spanish.
Talking about the UN’s goal to attain World Peace and the role of peacekeeping, Dr. Tharoor said that while UN is the organization for World Peace it can be a very challenging. “Certainly the institution is a highly important and effective one and how it can be strengthened is in the question for reform. The security council reform that has been put on the back burner for the last couple of years cannot be indefinitely deferred,” said Dr. Tharoor.
Presently Shashi Tharoor not only has his hands full pursuing private sector opportunities he has also associated himself to a number of causes that matter to him personally. From education, involvement with various human rights issues, to the conservation of tigers in India, Dr. Tharoor’s continues his role as the unofficial peace-maker.