Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor.JPG

Shashi Tharoor is a member of Parliament from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram constituency

Foreign investment

It is time somebody blew the whistle on the crippling affliction of severe understaffing in the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

Old flame Russia

The recent re-election of Vladimir Putin as President of Russia went largely unremarked upon in our country — his inauguration actually received less coverage than that of François Hollande in France.

Friends with benefits

The recent flurry of activity involving Bangladesh — US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s and Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visits there last weekend, and the trip to Delhi of Banglade

Turkish delight

I’ve just returned to Parliament from a brief visit to Istanbul, Turkey, and I must say I’ve come hugely impressed.

Peace is patriotic

The flying one-day visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to New Delhi and Ajmer — an exercise in what is being called “dargah diplomacy” — went well enough, but amidst all the low-key mutual b

Visa bloopers

I am, I am told, principally guilty for having introduced the idea of the importance of India’s “soft power” into the public discourse of our country. My rationale for applying the American academic Joseph Nye’s ideas to India (initially in a series of speeches at the dawn of the new millennium) lay in my conviction that India’s biggest asset in the world was not merely our rising power in conventional terms or our consistent economic growth in the last two decades; it was, I felt, the attractiveness of our culture, values, cuisine, music, clothes, films, yoga and so on to the rest of the world.

The other America

As India looks to fashion a major role for itself on the world stage in the second decade of the 21st century, its gaze needs to settle on wider horizons than its traditional preoccupation with its own troubled neighbourhood. One part of the world which is beginning to attract increasing Indian attention is Latin America.
Latin America has long been the Forgotten Continent in India — a region with which India might have found much in common but did not, separated as the two were by distance, language and the lack of any common history of interaction. Yet, with a population of 580 million, a GDP of $4.9 trillion (four times larger than India’s), and six per cent of global merchandise trade, Latin America is clearly a part of the world Indian policymakers cannot afford to neglect.

Thorn in the crown

The recent kerfuffle over British aid to India is now off the news pages, which may be a good time to look at the broader context. During an earlier elimination round for India’s multi-billion dollar multi-role combat aircraft deal, the Americans and the Russians were miffed that we didn’t favour their planes; the Russians even cancelled some long-scheduled defence exercises to signal their displeasure. Now it’s the Brits’ turn to be upset with us, for the same reason. Our Air Force Chief must feel like the casting director of a play at a girls’ high school.

Complicated chords

The terrorist attack on an Israeli diplomat’s vehicle in New Delhi this week has thrown a harsh spotlight on a relationship that many in the capital have preferred to hide under a bushel. India and Israel have had a complicated equation since the two independent countries emerged from the territorial reordering that followed World War II, but their history long precedes their existence as modern nation states.

Puppetry in Pak

In my last column (of impressions from my recent Pakistan visit, Warmth in Pak, Jan. 20), I dwelt on the astonishing fact that there is no country in the world where an Indian is made to feel more welcome than in Pakistan. At the same time, the warmth and affection lavished on Indian guests cannot obscure real differences of strategic perceptions (and actual actions) between the two countries.

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.