Utpal Borpujari

May 30, 2009

Poltics before pen: Tharoor

By Utpal Borpujari & B S Arun

Politics’ gain has been the bibliophile’s loss.

Shashi Tharoor, UN diplomat-turned-politician and internationally-acclaimed author of 11 books, is taking a break as a writer, so that he can concentrate on his job as a Union Minister and an MP.

“There is a limit to the multitasking that one can do. I think my writing will have to go to the backburner, at least in the initial phases (of political career),” Tharoor, sworn in on Thursday as Minister of State for External Affairs, told Deccan Herald.

The break, he says, is necessary as like every minister, he too has to play a double role – that of a representative of his constituency meeting the needs of people, and a minister who has to play a role in framing national policies pertaining to the ministry.

“I suspect for a long time I will have to work harder because Thiruvananthapuram as a constituency has been somewhat neglected. I am a man from the Backwaters but I don’t want my constituency to be in the backwaters of Indian development,” he says.

But fans of his writing, don’t despair as yet. His last book – for the time being, that is – will hit the stands very shortly. Co-written with former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shahryar Khan, the book, to be published by Roli Books, is a compendium on the 60 years of India-Pakistan cricket.

“The book was getting ready when the 26/11 happened. It was to be launched during the India-Pakistan series in January which got called off. Now finally it is coming out in June or July,” he says.

“This is a book for my readers who love cricket, others may not like it that much. It is primarily  a survey of those 60 years, but is also meant to look forward in terms of so many other issues, and becomes more relevant as it is coming out when the India-Pakistan cricketing relations are in suspension,” he says, adding with a tinge of regret, “That would be probably the last book for a little while now.”

When he resumes writing, will he write a book on his experiences in electoral politics? Quick comes the reply, “Probably only if I lose, because when you are writing fiction or non-fiction, the writer has to have some kind of distance from the subject. Otherwise, it is very difficult to have the detachment that is necessary to do a good job of writing.” 

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 30-05-2009)



May 29, 2009

It’s a privilege and challenge to be part of Manmohan govt: Tharoor

Filed under: Deccan Herald,Indian Politics,Media,Politics — Utpal Borpujari @ 8:13 pm

By B S Arun & Utpal Borpujari

From a UN bureaucrat who got within striking distance of becoming the global body’s Secretary-General to a first-time MP appointed as a Minister of State in the new UPA government, Shashi Tharoor has definitely travelled a long way in all senses of the term. All set to begin his new innings in a life that has revelled in multi-tasking, Tharoor shares his thoughts about being a full-time politician with Deccan Herald:

After long years of being an international bureaucrat and an NRI, you are now a politician and a Union minister…

Well, that’s true and not yet fully true. I was a bureaucrat, but not all of it involved sitting only in air-conditioned offices and shaking hands with ministers from various countries. I did a lot of action-oriented work, in refugee-related areas, in peacekeeping. But going out to campaign in the streets and tea shops of Thiruvananthapuram was a totally new experience, though it was not completely a departure from the things I had done in my life earlier.

What has been your experience as a politician till now?

The campaign was an extraordinary experience. Coming into the world of politics from the sort of background I have, I needed to earn the right to represent the people. Many thought I would not be able to do it, and I was determined to give it a very good try, because I knew I could not behave like a conventional politician and make those flowery speeches in Sahityik (literary) Malayalam. But I made those very direct speeches in simple, colloquial Malayalam. And I must say my way of doing it seems to have struck a chord with people. It was an exhausting campaign, and my respect for politicians have gone up a lot after that because very frequently it would be 20-21 hour days, which is not easy to cope with over for a sustained period of time.

How do you plan to use your past experiences in your new role?

The whole thing about being in politics is that you are prepared to do new things. If I am given something to do that has to do with my UN experience, that will also be a new thing as I will be doing that from within the government now. I won’t claim that I come with any superior knowledge in a particular field, but yes, I have come with a wide range of experiences, insights, connections which I will use depending on their relevance to the job I am given. It is a privilege and a challenge to be able to be part of a government that is led by Dr Manmohan Singh, whom I have a lot of respect for.

You defeated a Left candidate. What do you have to say about the Left brand of politics?

The Left itself has called for introspection, and that’s the right thing to do because the biggest problem with the Left politics is that it is stuck in the 19th century. I have no doubt about the Left’s commitment to the poor, but the Congress party has the same commitment but it is allied to a respect for growth. If you don’t let the economy grow, you will have no resources to give to the poor, and that’s the big problem with the Left’s approach, because they want to stifle every economic activity and then they expect to be able to take care of the poor. That becomes the recipe for keeping the poor, poor. The only successfully-surviving Communist government is in China, and they have adopted a path that is far more Capitalist than Communist.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 28-05-2009)


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