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The Talented Shashi Tharoor

January 24, 2009

Shashi Tharoor tells it like it is.  I quite like what he has to say most of the time–although I have to confess my tryst with his works started only recently.

In November, I picked up his book India: From Midnight to Millenium and thought it was brilliant and a must-read for those interested in democratic processes in South Asia at large. Subsequently, I’ve culled his Op-Eds from online archives, and most recently, got my hands on the critically acclaimed The Great Indian Novel. Thus far, my tryst with Shashi’s works has been nothing short of very intellectually exciting.

Here is an autobiographical inteview of Shashi at UC Berkeley. Quite interesting if you are interested in a diplomatic or a literary career (for those that don’t know, Shashi was No. 2 at the UN and was touted to succeed Kofi Annan as the UN Secretary General).

If you are too lazy to watch the video, here are statements I picked out; they stood out to me for their clarity and insight:

1. The Jesuits have developed an interesting vocation of educating the privileged of the third world.

 

2. I was just beginning to flirt with the ideas of atheism. When you discover rationality, religion doesn’t seem so impressive anymore. When you discover the limitations of rationality, it all comes back.

 

3. I had the misfortune of being good at studies, and I say that without any false modesty. Particularly in the Indian system, those who are good at taking exams tend to do well, doesn’t necessarily imply that they have fine minds.

 

4. Like many foreign students when they go abroad, I was instantly thrust into a position of having to explain and defend his country. That is a very common predicament.

 

5. To write fiction you need time and space in your head. A space inside your head to create and inhabit and alternative model universe whose realities have to be consistent in your mind.

 

6. The Indian adventure is at its best of people working together, dreaming the same dreams, who don’t look like each other, don’t speak the same language, don’t eat the same kinds of food, don’t dress alike, and don’t have the same color of skin.

 

7. I make no bones about the fact that India matters to me, and I would like to matter to India.

 

8. Satire enables you to recast both the great ideas and great stories and great men in a light that is so unfamiliar that immediately provokes a fresh way of looking at them.

 

9. If you want to edify, you have to entertain.

 

Impressive, no?

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Farah permalink
    January 25, 2009 6:54 pm

    Talented he is. But have you read his recent piece on the disappearance of the sari among Indian women?

  2. Shalini permalink
    January 26, 2009 6:43 am

    Yeah, it was quite controversial, too. Seems like he was misunderstood by a lot of feminist-types who decided the call for the return of the saree was an expression of sexism. MCP is what they called him, and poor guy had to write an OpEd defending himself the next day! At least show some respect to a guy who’s made India proud on the world scene is what I say.

  3. Shalini permalink
    January 26, 2009 6:44 am

    Yeah, it was quite controversial, too. Seems like he was misunderstood by a lot of feminist-types who decided the call for the return of the saree was an expression of sexism. MCP is what they called him, and poor guy had to write an OpEd defending himself the next day! At least show some respect to a guy who’s made India proud on the world scene is what I say.

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