Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Curious Case of Dr.Shashi Tharoor , the Thinking Minister.

“I think his (is a) very clear summary for us of the way in which Indian foreign policy drew from our founding fathers’ sense of our civilization heritage, the extraordinary contribution of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to the articulation of that civilisational heritage, the manner in which that both enhanced India’s standing in the world and gave us the negative reputation for conducting foreign policy as a sort of moralistic running commentary on other people’s behaviour.” said Shashi Tharoor , summing up Bhikhu Parik’s presentation at the event organised by an association of Indian diplomats at Delhi’s Indian Council of World Affairs.

Parekh’s talk on “India’s place in the world” called Nehru’s foreign policy a mistake. Mr. Shashi Tharoor endorsed Parik’s position - and is in a soup. The Congress party is peeved that he dared to criticize the policies of Nehru.

“I am very surprised by Tharoor’s style. He is a member of the Congress and his responsibility is to carry forward the legacy of Pandit Nehru and not to be critical of it,” Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said.

The height of sycophancy! How else can we describe this ridiculous attitude?

Dr.Parik is a renowned political theorist. Dr. Sashi Tharoor is a renowned intellectual and writer. Has he signed a contract with the congress party to shelve his brains temporarily into the deep freeze while he serves the country as a minister from the party?

Mind you, Tharoor was not commenting, this time, on a current policy. It was his perception of India’s early foreign policy. People see things differently. Also, in hindsight, our perceptions can alter. Is it fair for the Congress party to crack whip on the partymen on the position to be taken on the policies of the Indian National Congress for the past 150 years? Well, they had then better issue tickets to zombies and empty vessels who are capable of only echoing the inane rumblings of the high command on issues which are of interests and concern to researchers and theorists.

And why flay him for faulting Gandhi? Did not Gandhi believe that perception of truth will change with time and situation? Did he not provide for differences of opinion? Hasn’t he stated that "Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress" and "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress"

I belong to the school of thought which endorses Nehruvian economic and foreign policies. But does that mean I must block from my mind all other perceptions of it? Does it mean I should condemn or silence hindsight wisdom?

Dr. Shashi Tharoor’s role in this meeting is not clear from the reports. Was he a moderator? If he was, his function was to be an objective chairperson in an intellectual discussion and not that of a spokesman of the Congress party. Even if he were a mere participant and not a moderator, it was his honest perception that was relevant in a debate following a scholarly presentation. It would be ridiculous, and unbecoming of a thinker to capitalize that platform to toe the party line.

Regarding Shashi Tharoor, the politician, there is every indication that he is getting sick and tired of the his cerebral activity being cabined, cribbed and confined by the lobby of seasoned politicians who never miss an opportunity to cut him down to size. Tharoor’s success would usher in a new type of political leaders who might eventually form the think tank of the party, much to the chagrin of those who stay in power by their sheer political acumen and Machiavellism innocent of intellectual content.


  1. He seems to be at this everytime no? Rather than blaming the politicians for this the finger must be pointed at the media for prowling on the diplomat turned politician for each word he speaks, tweets or thinks. Most often things are taken out of context and when these journ folks approach the Congress spokespersons for their opinion it naturally becomes a controversy.

    Are we seeing a radical change in the political set up in our country where the individual leaders are allowed to express their opinions instead of merely being a nodding toy to the head-honchos? One for the word democracy I suppose.

    Good thoughts expressed here, you are on an overdrive on blogosphere at the moment! Already half a dozen articles in just over a week, yo ma'm!

  2. @ Scorpiogenius
    the idle mind is the workshop of the ahem! :-)
    dislocated from my natural habitat. hence generally unemployed.

  3. Shashi Tharoor as a member of the organisation is not supposed to criticise its own icons..That is a basic decency when you are inside the organisation..Even if the organisation is such an accomadationg one as I.N.C...
    It was good of Tharoor to clarify his stand that he was just summing up Parikh....B.J.P has already tried to score by endorsing Tharoor`s view...One minister should be either so naive in politics ,which works on symbols and icons or should have scant respect to the larger organisation to play paper heroism to openly criticise Nehru before foreign dignitaries ;but explaining his position I think all is well.

  4. Tharoor is the least affected by all this idiotic comments from some of our brainless politicians.Hours after the comment from Shakeel,he posted on twitter: “Attended great lecture by Lord Bhikhu Parikh on India’s place in world.”

    We are always inhibited by taboos on criticising oficial India's patron saints.
    I dont think that everything Gandhiji did was right,though he has done great things.There was a lack of realism in many things,in that he refused to accept realities of human nature.During his prayer meeting in May 1947,he prepared Hindus and Sikhs for an anticipated massacre,and not many would find a justifiable reason for that.If I make such a comment,does it become treason? We heard Jaswant Singh saying that Jinnah was a great Indian and partition was the mistake of Nehru, we could laugh it off.
    Freedom of speech and expression is our fundamental right.The very same people who make laws shouldnot break it.

  5. Tharoor seems to be the best to happen in Indian politics.. he is least bothered about the usual politics and his life (say career/finance) does not depend upon it....

    but then I wonder how long his fancy will last..

    and while he is there will he leave anything tangible except for the "intellectual" twitters and presentations?

  6. Dr.Tharoors problem is that he is an intellectual writer and he cannot suppress his inner soul when confronted or asked on any issue. But this may become dangerous for him, he should be like A.K Antony never utter a word until and unless prepared and should ensure that he should not be quoted out of context. But alas, a tiger cannot hide its spots, he need time.

    And the media, they want some contrversy every day if they dont have they will make it, its irresponsible media making all these cntroversies. If Shashi Tharoro want to continue as minister he must follow the three monkey principle.
    Hear Nothing See Nothing and more important dont utter anything.

  7. Well summarized...!!!
    If one appreciates intelligence and knowledge, then he has to appreciate Tharoor ...and so do I :)

  8. Agree on sycophancy etc. By extension perhaps he is forbidden from criticizing Indira Gandhi, Emergency, the pogrom of sikhs, etc?


    I doubt the sincerity of Tharoor. In his books, he used to be a strong critic of the family rule within the Congress party, especially Sonia Gandhi. And now...

    Well that is not the only reason. Can you imagine any of the other serious Indian Writers of English watching 3 Idiots and say it is a spectacular movie ? Never mind that Tharoor is not considered as a great author, but even then, if he had even made an attempt to understand art, wouldnt the internal inconsistencies of the film have become apparent to him?

    He tweeted saying Karunakaran is a great leader. He wrote once: "Kerala is a microcosm of India. People of all castes,religions, ethnicities, languages are here". Well?

    Does it seem like I am nitpicking? I am, perhaps. Just my reading of this man.

    But dont you think his tweets are drenched in narcissism? That is, is he not showing off?


  9. Paranju vannappo parayaan vannathu vittu poyi.

    He said India's Foreign policy in the Nehru-Gandhi era was about moralising what other countries should do. Well its just a part of a sentence and could well have been unindented. But Tharoor has repeated this in his later explanations too so I suppose he meant and stands by it.

    But, when America goes to war with (say Iraq, or some 10 other countries if you go back to Nehru) for no particular reason, shouldnt India moralise? Is it not wrong if she keeps her mouth quiet, minding her own business?

  10. @ arun
    tharoor is the material a good politician is made of. he chose Congress 'cos ideologically it suited him best. yes his tweets do set him apart from other politician. narcissist - aren't all of us tweeters that? goes without saying.
    yes, i too was surprised at his remarks on 3 idiots - but then, he must have laughed a lot like did. it's nly when lookng back we find ourelves having nothing to clutch.
    foreign policy - in the nehruvian era, when the cold war was on, nonalignment was brilliant.policies shud change with time and tide.

    thanks for visiting

    @ arushiyudey lokam
    u r right. the problems r all of the media's making

    @ happy kitten
    lets hope he lasts. india can do with him

    @ dr antony
    i agree with every thing u say except about gandhi. he refused to be tied down by human nature and its weaknesses. wanted to show there is a way the spirit can conquer the flesh. suceedded to some extent u must agree.

    @ arun
    he was not critcising anyone but the policy of the cfountry several years back. he later clarified that he was chairing the session. whatelse is he supposed to do other than sum up a presentation? that's his role as the chairperson.

  11. Looks like Tharoor is walking the talk... at least for a few..

  12. The Hindu reported on 17th as follows:

    "His book, Nehru: The Invention of India, published in 2003 speaks for itself. In the chapter ‘Commanding Heights: 1947-57,’ Mr. Tharoor made the following assessment of the country’s first Prime Minister: “…under Nehru, the articulation of foreign policy took on the form of an extended, and excessively moralistic, running commentary on world affairs....” "

    I think Taroor need not now be aplogetic about his views on men and matters, which are by and large correct and sound; in order to out-Congress sychophantic and inept Congress morons.

  13. Good one ma'am:) I guess the controversy has died a natural death.


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