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Shashi Tharoor is an author, politician and former international civil servant. Dr. Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience. Currently a third-term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, he has previously served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. He currently chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

During his nearly three-decade long prior career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker, and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership of the organisation. He is also an award-winning author of 20 books of both fiction as well as non-fiction, including The Great Indian Novel, The Paradoxical Prime Minister, The Hindu Way and The New World Disorder. He has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the prestigious Crossword Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Sahitya Akademi Award in the category of ‘English Non-Fiction’ for his book An Era of Darkness.

Born in London in 1956, Dr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a PhD in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at the Tufts University. While there, he received the Robert B. Stewart Prize for Best Student and also helped found and served as the first Editor of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal now in its 40th year. Dr Tharoor was also awarded an honorary D.Litt by the University of Puget Sound and a Doctorate Honoris Causa in History by the University of Bucharest. In 1998 the World Economic Forum in Davos named him a ‘Global Leader of Tomorrow’. He is also a recipient of several awards that include a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest honour for overseas nationals. In 2012 the King of Spain awarded him the Encomienda de la Real Order Espanola de Carlos III. Among numerous other awards are one for ‘New Age Politician of the Year’ from NDTV, the Hakim Khan Sur Award for National Integration, and the Priyadarshini Award for Excellence in Diplomacy.

He was a pioneer in using social media as an instrument of political interaction. Till 2013, he was India’s most-followed politician on Twitter, until being overtaken that year by the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He was the first Indian to reach 10,000 and 100,000 followers on the medium, and currently has over 7.2 million followers.


Brave New World - Covid and the Arts

Ananth Padmanabhan, Shashi Tharoor, K.R. Meera, Kanishka Gupta, Marcus du Sautoy, Namita Gokhale and Urvashi Butalia in conversation with Sanjoy K Roy

A session exploring resilience and innovation from the arts to the isolation and extreme disruptions of the pandemic. Writers, artists and book lovers speak of responding to unforeseen challenges and the creativity and solidarity that rose to the fore through these difficult times.

The Ramcharitmanas

Pavan K. Varma and Shashi Tharoor in conversation

An important session that examines the deep philosophy and continuing relevance of the Ramcharitmanas, written by Goswami Tulsidas in Awadhi in the 16th century. Diplomat, author and ex MP Pavan K. Varma discusses his new book on the subject with politician and writer Shashi Tharoor as they follow the pathbreaking text and its deep impact on Indian culture and society.

The New World Disorder: The COVID Pandemic and Beyond

Shashi Tharoor and Samir Saran in conversation

At a moment when the world faces unprecedented disruption and crisis, a necessary conversation on the new realities that face us. Writer, politician and public intellectual Shashi Tharoor and President of the Observer Research Foundation Samir Saran, who have co-authored The New World Disorder and the India Imperative, share their views.