Shashi Tharoor | Life | Literary and Political Career: Shashi Tharoor is an Indian writer, diplomat, former international civil servant, politician, and public intellectual. Tharoor is a Sahitya Academy Awardee and has authored several works of fiction and non-fiction since year 1981. His works are centered on the history, culture, society, politics, films, and related themes of India. Let’s read more about the life and career of Shashi Tharoor as a writer and political figure.
Early Life and Education
Shashi Tharoor was born in London, UK on March 10, 1956. He was born to Chandran Tharoor and Sulekha Menon. Tharoor has two young sisters, Shobha and Smitha. His paternal uncle Parameshwaran Tharoor was the founder of Reader’s Digest in India. Tharoor’s father worked for The Statesman and in several positions in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, and London. They returned to India when he was 2-years-old. In 1962, he joined Montfort School, Yercaud. Then at the Campion School, Bombay from 1963-68. He spent his high school years from 1960-71 at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta.
Shashi Tharoor graduated with a B.A. degree in history in 1975 from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. He founded the Stephen’s Quiz Club in the college. In the same year, he went to the US for his M.A. in International Relations. He obtained his Master’s Degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Medford. Tharoor further obtained a Master’s degree in law and diplomacy and a Ph. D. degree in International Relations and Affairs. He was awarded Robert B Stewart Prize for the best student while he was pursuing his doctorate. Tharoor was the first editor of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs. He was the youngest person to receive the doctorate in the history of Fletcher School, at the age of 22.
Shashi Tharoor – Literary Career
Tharoor has been a columnist in The Hindu, Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express, and Gentleman magazine. His book reviews and op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. As of the year 2021, he has written twenty-three books in the English language. His first published story appeared in The Free Press Journal in Mumbai when he was 10. Tharoor’s several works have undergone re-prints such as The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cellphone. In 2000 President Bill Clinton cited his book India From Midnight to the Millennium in his speech.
His non-fiction work An Era of Darkness has sold over 100,000 copies and continues to be a bestseller in India. Since then he has published two other non-fiction books published by the Aleph Book Company, The Paradoxical Prime Minister and Why I Am A Hindu. In September 2019, Tharoor published The Hindu Way: An Introduction. And in 2020, he published a new book co-authored by the president of ORF, Samir Saran, The New World Disorder And the Indian Imperative.
Shashi Tharoor – Political Career
Tharoor became the chairman of Dubai-based Afras Ventures which built the AABC in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. In this city, he would go on to win a record three parliamentary elections. Before embarking on his political career, he also served on the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, the advisory boards of the Indo-American Art Council, the board of overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the World Policy Journal, the American India Foundation, and the human rights organization Breakthrough. He was an international adviser from 2008-2011 to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.
Tharoor chose Congress because he felt ideologically comfortable with the party. On May 2009, he was sworn in as the Minister of State for External Affairs. As the minister, he rebuilt long-dormant diplomatic nexus with African nations. He was the pioneer in using social networking sites as a way of political interaction and was the most followed politician in India until 2013. He has also attempted to introduce a few of the Private Member Bills in the Parliament, notably his efforts to amend Section 377.
Shashi Tharoor’s first wife was Tilottama Mukherji, a half-Kashmiri and half-Bengali academic. She is the granddaughter of politician Kailash Katju. They went to college together and got married in 1981. She is currently a professor of humanities at New York University. Their twin sons Kanishk and Ishaan are equally talented. Kanishk is the writer of Swimmer Among the Stars and a former editor at Open Democracy. Ishaan writes on foreign affairs for the Washington Post and was a former senior editor at Time Magazine. The separated at some point.
Tharoor married Christa Giles in 2007. She is a Canadian diplomat working at the United Nations. Their marriage was ephemeral and childless. In 2010, he married Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar. Pushkar died in 2014 at The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi under enigmatic circumstances. In 2018, Tharoor was charged under sections 306 and 498A of the Penal code was marital cruelty and encouraging the suicide of Pushkar. After 3 years, in 2021, he was discharged from all the charges.
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