Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor.JPG

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

No more delusions!

Few articles I’ve written have provoked as much of a storm as my last column in this space (Delusional Liberals, July 21, though the adjective “delusional” was a headline writer’s, not mine). In that piece, I had expressed concern that some Pakistani commentators’ intolerant response to an article on Pakistan by the Indian writer Aatish Taseer, and the echoing applause of many Pakistani liberals, made me doubt whether we had credible partners for peace amongst the liberal community on the other side of the border.

Delusional liberals

International affairs all too often seems a weighty subject, full of complexity and nuance, laden with portents of tension and conflict. No wonder it lends itself to overly solemn treatment, full of abstract analyses and recondite allusions:

A game of monopoly

The appointment last week of France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) brings an end to a race which, for all its illusions of drama and contest, was in fact entirely predictable.
The so-called Bretton Woods institutions — the World Bank and the IMF, set up in the New Hampshire town of that name by the Allied Powers of World War II in 1944 — have long rested on a cosy deal

Recipe for revolt

The Arab Spring is not quite shading into our Indian monsoon, but it has claimed some impressive results already. The long-serving Presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, in that order, have fled their palaces for refuge elsewhere (or in the case of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, for a jail cell in Cairo).

Mystique of Gurudev

I write these words just after addressing the world’s largest literary festival, at Hay-on-Wye in Wales, on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. The audience was modest — perhaps one attendee for each year since his birth — but even that was more than the organisers had expected.

Friendship, caution

In my last column, I suggested the time had come for India to broaden the scope of its contacts with Taiwan, instead of being overly respectful of the sensitivities of China, especially since Beijing has rarely shown the same regard for our sensitivities. This is not just about self-assertion, or even showing China that we have options.

Ignore the ventriloquist

If there is one assumption taken for granted by all of us familiar with Chinese sensitivities, it is that of “One China” — the inflexible policy adhered to by Beijing that requires the world to accept the unity and indivisibility of the Chinese nation, including not only Tibet but also Hong Kong (despite its autonomy, separate administration and currency) and Taiwan (despite its de facto, but not de jure, independence).

The tweeting classes

The role of social media websites — such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Skype — in the unfolding revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, with ripples elsewhere in North Africa and West Asia, has given new impetus to the discussion of their impact on world politics. The eminent American journal Foreign Affairs recently

The Wiki-trick

The parliamentary furore over WikiLeaks has died down, but not without leaving some questions in the minds of those unversed in diplomatic practice. The huge fuss made by Opposition parties over one particular cable, dated July 17, 2008, from US charge d’affaires Steven White to the US state department (162458: secret) — which reports allegations of funds stashed to facilitate vote-buying before that month’s confidence vote in the then United Progressive Alliance government — raises questions about the significance of such communications in international diplomacy, and how much we should make of it all.

Chinese, Indian style

Today, this column appears in one more city — our sister newspaper Deccan Chronicle makes its first appearance in Kochi. Inspired by the city’s famous Chinese fishing nets and Kerala’s renowned prowess in athletics, I thought this might be the occasion for looking anew at India’s ties with China — not through the prism of diplomacy or trade this time, but with an eye to our sporting differences, and what they reveal about our 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.