Shashi Tharoor is an Indian politician and a former career international diplomat and has served as Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala since 2009. He is currently the serving Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and All India Professionals Congress of the Indian National Congress. Shashi has a distinguished and wide ranging career. He previously served as Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information at the United Nations, under Kofi Annan in 2001 before retiring following a close second place finish in 2006 to the position of United Nations Secretary-General to Ban Ki-moon. During his tenure at the UNDPI, Tharoor reformed the department and undertook a number of initiatives, ranging from organising and conducting the first-ever United Nations seminar on anti-Semitism, the first-ever United Nations seminar on Islamophobia after the 11 September attacks, and launching an annual list of "Ten Under-Reported Stories the World Ought to Know about"
Shashi is an acclaimed writer with a history of authoring bestselling works. He is the author of 17 books. His most recent work, Why I Am a Hindu, explores Hindu philosophy and its role in modern Indian politics. Tharoor is currently on a book tour around the UK which will take him to the Jaipur Literature Festival at the British Library, and to the Bradford Literature Festival.
Of his 16 bestsellers to date he has written on India focusing on a wide range of topics from its history, culture, film, politics, society, foreign policy, and more.
Shashi has two sons, Ishaan Tharoor and Kanishk Tharoor.
1. Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
Country would be India. City would be my constituency, Thiruvananthapuram. And place would be anywhere which has an internet connection!
2. What are your proudest achievements?
My sons, now 33. My books, now 17.
3. What inspires you?
The possibility of making a difference to people's lives.
4. What has been biggest obstacles in your career?
Jealousy, and the "lobster syndrome".
5. What has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
My father inspired my work ethic and my desire to excel. My bosses recognised what I could contribute and gave me the opportunity to make a difference.
6. What is the best aspect about your current role?
As Chairman of the External Affairs Committee, the opportunity to review and influence Indian foreign policy. As head of the All India Professionals Congress, the chance to provide a platform to taxpaying Indian professionals. And as an author and speaker, the privilege of contributing to the national discourse on the issues that matter for the country.
7. And the worst?
The need to spend a great deal of time on fulfilling individual requests from constituents rather than dealing with policy issues affecting millions. The energy expended on dealing with petty political attempts to pull me down.
8. What are your long term goals?
To make a difference, and to leave a part of the planet a better place for my having been in it.
9. If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
The educational system - to better equip our young people to prosper in the world of the 21st century.
10. If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?
Jawaharlal Nehru, because he had the most fascinating mind of any 21st century leader - a sense of history and culture, a refined humanism, and a gift of language.