Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shashi Tharoor's Homecoming!

There is something amiss about Shashi Tharoor. I mean, not just the allegations of 'Impropriety' and his subsequent resignation but about his persona. Here is a suave, erudite, highly successful professional in world affairs who got a PhD at 22 from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and then immediately joined UN (in 1978). In 23 years, he rises to the rank of Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, directly reporting to the UN Secretary-General. And then, after 6 years in that post, at an age of 50, he throws his hat in the ring for the post of Secretary-General. If elected, he would have been the second youngest Secretary-General at UN. Not surprisingly, he was seen 'too young' for the post! And despite a clear writing on the wall that he wont make it, it was his eagerness and his personal equation with PM Manmohan Singh that made India back him for the post. And of course he lost it leading to his abrupt exit from UN. For all his scholarliness, Tharoor was a man in hurry. Or was he a just a dreamer who think he can never fail?

Tharoor was by then living a dynamic personal life, parallely dabbling in writing novels, non-fiction and columns for newspapers. That is even while he was engrossed with the Bosnias, Human Rights Organizations and charity groups like Red Cross. Such multi-tasking is mind-boggling and speaks tons about his commitment to work hard and excel. Shashi Tharoor was living a dream even while he plunged into Indian politics. For someone who has been away from India for more than 3 decades, to decide to contest for a Parliament election needs considerable gumption. It is in line with his enterprising nature that marked his career of institution-building and quest for new challenges. He won as if it were a cakewalk - with a 100,000 vote majority. To give the credit due for him, he could have simply chosen the Rajya Sabha route instead of gearing for public election. That symbolizes his spirit. Everything was working for him, his articulation, his good-looks and an earnestness that is hard to miss. But barging into IPL, with all its monies, was unforgivable and Tharoor did not seem to have grasped the format of Indian hierarchies in businesses and politics, despite his scholarly interpretation of epic Mahabharata as 'The Great Indian Novel'. Now he seems to have realized, as he tells often, that there were a few 'closed shops' he seemed to have gatecrashed.

His fascination with the glamour world like
Bollywood made him pen 'Show Business' while his awe for cricket produced a 'Shadows Across The Playing Field'. So it is no surprise that Tharoor was attracted to IPL as it is a heady cocktail of glamor and cricket. This guy is a dreamer and that enough is good enough motive, regardless of the financial incentives, for him to take the IPL boat. But then he is a man in haste, eager to make his mark, in line with how he lost the plot at UN election, but then this is no literary world or a UN office. It is in Indian politics and he already barged in to Lok Sabha. Despite serving as a top-ranking UN official, he accepted a minister of state post, one that is usually reserved for the likes Jr Scindias, Jr Pilots (there was news that even Jr. YSR was offered one). This stands testimony to the eagerness Shashi Tharoor has to stay in limelight. He just wont let any opportunity pass and that could have frightened quite a few within his state and his party.

For an Indian politician, he was way too transparent, twittering everything and speaking his mind all too often. That could have unsettled many in power circles who see themselves as elite and everything they do to be allowed access only to a chosen few. Breaking rules set for decades in grand old party of
sycophants has its repercussions. The outsider is ousted. And the tragedy on Shakespearean lines took his toll and the high-flying dreamer comes crashing down. Was Tharoor naive enough to miss the eyes that went into envy looking at his meteoric rise to India's high-table of power? When was the last time, we saw someone go to that heights without a mum, dad, in-laws background? People the age his grandpa are still ministers-in-waiting and Shashi Tharoor showed such a hurry. Did he miss the fact that he was asked to explain the silliest of his tweets by the Congress coterie committee while Ministers and MPs alleged for far serious wrongdoings were never made to feel unwelcome? And it would be amusing to know if Shashi Tharoor somehow felt he cant go wrong with 7,00,000 followers on Twitter!? Maybe if the time he spent tweeting were spent on networking with the real coteries in Delhi, he would have had survived. But then, the dynamic minister never seemed to got tuned for these activities. Or maybe they made no sense for his erudite mind. I guess now they does.

He should thank
Lalit Modi for the quick lesson and Of course Ms Pushkar and his OSD. While Tharoor himself, with his background, looks an unlikely corrupt guy, he could have got blinded by his passions for Show Business and Cricket and got associated with the wrong people. Prima facie, he looks guilt by association. This experience is the true 'homecoming' for him. Hope he learns this one thing now and of course with his talent and worldly wisdom, he can master this art too, the art of Indian politics! And it is not played out before the Twitter crowd. He is just 54 and can be considered, in Indian politics, a baby in diapers! He is energetic, intelligent and can contribute to India immensely. Tharoor, welcome home and just grow up.


Ammara said...

i heard this man speak many times, read his work ... he is a true diplomatic genius bt indeed has a long way to go in politics.

sunil said...

Amar first nicely written .. but having said that as anand mahindra rightly said "Its a colossal waste of talent " after his resignation.
Some how indian politics are too complicated and so many things happen under cover poor tharoor still didn't learn the art and was caught .
If ministers like raja and lalu can be part of UPA government i dont understand how ST got the boot. The only reason seems to be that the very fact that he belong to congress party did him in , Had he been from NCP,DMK he definitely
cud have escaped. All in all i feel that its not ST who lost the post Its India which lost an educated minister who could have offered lot to the country. I sincerely wish and hope that he bounces back . “Shashi Tharoor, jeetega zaroor"

Soni said...

Hope ST comes back soon.. Everyone knows hes true at heart...

Anonymous said...

I think it is very well written. I think Shashi Tharoor is not only in a haste..but also immature in some of the deeds... I hope that her returns as a better person. Also I think to say he should be let off because there are bigger thugs around in itself is highly unethical. I think ST should have been more responsible in what he said and did !!!

Amar said...

Yes folks. I believe he has been naive, and not corrupt. Hope he learns from this to be more cautious with his words and people around him.

U r partly right. Tharoor would have survived if he were in a regional outfit. But that is more because for a regional leader to emerge a minister or make a mark at Center, he should be very strong. Like the Laloos and Mulayams. These guys have very strong vote base. Suppose if Tharoor were of same mould, he would have survived within Cong too. But he is a newcomer and has not yet developed that core constituency. That did him in. And now he will have to work on it to make a comeback.

I. said...

You seem to have partly nailed it when it comes to Mr.Tharoor. I am not sure, if he actually can grow up to be the politician he can be. He has always seemed too full of his opinions, experiences, and ideas.

Well written article Amar.
As always.

nidhi said...

Well, I believe his earnestness and moves of real democracy was hard to digest by old, fat politicians who r there in that busuness not by the virtue of their knowledge or wisdom...Tharoor's intelligence,his vision and ambjition was seen by others as a threat that's why he did not get any support....