Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor.JPG

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

Warmth in Pak

It’s been more than a week since my wife and I returned from a five-day visit to Pakistan, but images and impressions of the trip are still vivid in the memory. Rather than attempt a comprehensive analysis of relations with that country — which should probably wait my next book! — I’d like to offer readers a few personal observations from my visit.

Geography of hope

I write these words in Lahore, in the midst of a brief but hugely interesting visit to Pakistan.

Opposition’s black money bogey

Last week’s parliamentary debate on “black money” abroad has been hailed by many as an example of how well our often dysfunctional legislature can function when it has a mind to do so. What was surprising, though, was that the issue was raised by the Opposition as an adjournment motion when the problem is manifestly a national and not a partisan problem, one that needs to be dealt with collectively.

Virtual reality

The controversy over the government’s alleged desire to censor Facebook, Twitter and other leading lights of the social media has obscured some genuine and urgent questions we need to address about free speech in our society.
The problem arose when the New York Times reported on Monday that our telecommunication minister, Kapil Sibal, had called in senior social media executives from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo and allegedly asked them to “prescreen user content from India and to remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online”.

Cause and effect

My last four columns on civil society and law-making, with specific reference to the Anna Hazare movement, seem to have left some readers with the impression that I am a critic of all those who support his cause. On the contrary, as one who has long called for an end to the widespread public apathy of the Indian middle class about politics, I am inspired by seeing the passion of Annaji’s followers. I share their anger against corruption — which Indian does not? — and I have no doubt that the Anna movement has touched a chord amongst millions of our people.

Get elected, get going

My previous three columns discussed the issue of civil society and law-making in general and in particular in India. This one concludes my argument.

Makers of our laws

In my last two columns I looked at civil society and law-making from a global and then a national perspective.

The democratic temper of India

In my last column (I’m on TV, that’s why I’m angry, September 30) we looked at what “civil society” means. How can civil society impact law-making?
In a democracy, there are specific rights accorded to citizens by the state to help them exercise their political freedoms: freedom of speech and political association and related rights allow citizens — in other words, members of civil society — to get together, argue and discuss, debate and criticise, protest and strike, and even go on fasts and hunger strikes, in order to support or challenge their governments.

I’m on TV, that’s why I’m angry

A global affairs column might seem an odd place to talk about the movement of Anna Hazare and his followers, but the reason I do so is that we all speak of them under the collective label of “civil society”, and yet there has been little international perspective on what “civil society” means around the globe, or its relation to law-making.
India is no stranger to protest movements, fasts-unto-death and the mass mobilisation of citizens for a popular cause. But Mr Hazare’s agitation has raised important new questions about the role of civil society in the functioning of our parliamentary democracy.

Parliament: A curious Indian institution

The current visit to India of the Speaker of the UK House of Commons, John Bercow, offers an amusing reminder of the similarities and differences between our two Parliaments — one the

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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.