Hyderabad: Former Union minister and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor has always been ahead of the curve, be it in politics or social media. From being a pioneer in the use of social media for political interactions with the masses, to encouraging youngsters and promoting education and technology in the country, Tharoor’s varied interests have always seen him jetsetting across the country and the world.
On Friday, Tharoor was at his aunt Anjolie Ela Menon’s art exhibition in New Delhi and over the weekend, he is in Hyderabad to speak at the “Teach For Change” initiative by the Passionate Foundation and also launch his latest book India Shastra. “I definitely sleep a lot less than I am supposed to. My mother always keeps telling me that with my hectic schedule, I am burning both ends of the candle; thankfully the candle hasn’t run out. This trip, on the other hand, has been a bit of a break. I am just here to give a talk and launch a book,” says the 59-year-old Tharoor, who shows no signs of slowing down.
“My leisure time has been trimmed down to the minimum. I am yet to learn how to balance it all. But writing is something that I will never give up and I always make time for it during the weekends. I am already a former Union minister, but I don’t want to be known as a former writer,” jokes Tharoor.
Working 24x7, Tharoor does admit that this is how things have always been for him and he hasn’t changed at all.
As a history student at St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, he was elected as the student union president, topped every class and was so involved in extra-curricular activities that the management had to complain to his parents about low attendance. “I studied there from 16 to 19 years of age and I was one of the youngest in my class. My college years shaped my intellectual interests and social skills, taught me to relate to others and win their support, and sharpened the talents and skills that I have used during my professional career,” he says.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why he has been passionate about promoting education across India. “My parents, who came from farming families, were the first ones to move out of the village and they had always laid importance on education. Even though they come from a generation where everyone should either be a doctor or engineer, they were very liberal when I told them I wanted to take up humanities, even though I topped in every science exam,” says Tharoor, who believes that the young generation nowadays has far more choices.
His twin sons, Ishaan and Kanishk, also chose their own paths. “Both of them studied at Yale University. Ishaan is a journalist with Washington Post and Kanishk is an author who will be releasing his book of short stories soon. Their career choices have always made me proud,” jokes Tharoor, adding on a serious note, “It’s never just about academic learning if you want to be fully-equipped in the modern times.”
Using social media as an instrument of social interaction, Tharoor was one of the firsts on Twitter and and till 2013 was the most followed Indian politician. “I was elected to Parliament in 2009 and at that time social media websites were banned on the MEA’s office computers. And even though BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said that ‘too much Tweeting will lead to quitting”, I was quite sure that in the next 10 years, majority of the politicians would be on social media. Yes, Venkaiah Naidu was correct and I resigned, but I didn’t have to wait for 10 years to see majority of our politicians have social media accounts,” says Shashi....