Shashi Tharoor and the politics of Disruption

Whenever change is coming, the people on top of the pile suddenly let go their own differences and unite against the forces of change. Does not matter where you are. People that have spent their life struggling to the top by fair or unfair means have such a strong investment in the existing system, that change can only be brought about by disruption.

Be it in Technology, in Governments, in Corporations and particularly in Politics,

What is emerging clearly is that Shashi Tharoor was such a disruption. One after another I listened to Politicians, experienced TV media personalities, editors of Magazines and Newspapers gloating over his resignation. In fact the whole gamut of an elite club of Politics, Business and Media that are often seemingly on opposite sides, but fundamentlly would not survive without each other. There was a fundamental fear of the type of politician Shashi Tharoor is. One after another they gave themselves away by saying he is not experienced, or mature, or does not respect existing norms and “it takes time to get into and understand the system”. They should have said manipulate.

Time to understand how to work in a manner where you are networked into the undercurrents of handshakes and whispers which have led to one of the most corrupt governance on the Planet ?

Shashi on Twitter also made him a darling of those that were able to adapt to the new technology. If New Media goes the way it is, it would take a away the power of the Gatekeepers of Indian Media, and then who would the Government or Corporations deal with ? Who do you secretly shake hands with when a technology is out there where people talk to each other completely ignoring or disbelieving the Old Media. After all without Twitter the whole IPL scam would not have been exposed.

Shashi recognized the power of the new medium and used it as a very effectively to force attention on himself at his own terms. Without compromise. That was not acceptable to the Old Boys Club. he had to be destroyed. What if all the members of parliament twittered their true opinions from parliament to the public at large ? It would be chaos for the Club, but it would herald the truest form of fluid democracy.

Shashi Tharoor is the first soldier of disruption and like front soldiers they are all shot down. I hope he survives. I hope he is able to explain to the Indian people what really went on in his dealing with the IPL in Kochi and remove all doubt about his integrity.

But mostly I hope there are many more disruptive foot soldiers that are willing to face the bullets of an antiquated corrupt and bloated system that feeds upon the incredible resilience, enterprise and fortitude of the Indian people.

For if there is not, change is coming from outside the political system that is already threatening us more than terrorism. While we all celebrate IPL, there is a revolt brewing in India that is threatening to break us out into civil war. For when a government is forced to send out it’s troops again and against it’s own citizens, what is it but a civil war ?

And I do not buy the argument of elitism. Remember Rajiv Gandhi ? There was a such a groundswell of support for him from every class and caste in India. Why ? Because he was young, fresh, and promised change, he represented hope for the people of India, to somehow change to a better, cleaner and fairer system of governance,

Change, I am afraid in the air, and if not from within the system, it will happen from outside it with dire consequences

41 Responses to “Shashi Tharoor and the politics of Disruption”

  1. Suddhasheel says:

    Dear Shekhar,

    Wonderfully written. I must learn the art of expression from you. I would be also commenting on the Indian Political system in my own capacity at my website:

    http://indiapolitique.wordpress.com/

    I would request your comments on improvising my views.

    Regards

    Suddhasheel

  2. Varun Verma says:

    Sir,
    Your article is appreciated. I liked it, specially two things:
    1. That ‘tweeting’ is one of the truest form of fluid democracy.
    2. That old politicians wanted Mr. Tharoor to “understand the system”. What they actually meant was to “manipulate the system”. Very well written sir.
    Regards.

  3. ratul says:

    Perfect ingredients for a film by Madhu Bhandarkar.

  4. Ravi Mohan says:

    They laughed at Gandhi. They laughed at dr King. But they also laughed at Bozo the clown.

    “Shashi Tharoor is the first soldier of disruption and like front soldiers they are all shot down. ”

    You have your logic backwards. Everyone who gets shotdown is not necessarily an “agent of disruption”. “Backline” Traitors are shot too.

    Sometimes people who get shot are just corrupt individuals who deserve to be shot down. Tharoor is one such.

    Note that we have no real clarity on why Ms Pushkar was offered 70 crores worth of “sweat equity” in perpetuity. Since the lady is hardly a world class marketing genius, Ocaam’s Razor suggests that her proximity to Tharoor was the cause. Her “giving up” the equity to protect Tharoor’s ministry (an attempt that failed, alas) adds credence. Either she is getting the money for her professional competence(in which case she doesn’t need to give it up and can justify the insane valuation withe her cv) or she is not. You can’t have it both ways.

    If he had nothing to do with the bidding why was his OSD at the bidding? Again we have no answers.

    Your blind support of a corrupt minister just because he is eloquent is sickening.

    and yes

    “Shashi recognized the power of the new medium and used it as a very effectively to force attention on himself at his own terms. Without compromise.”

    You could rephrase this as “He shot himself in the foot multiple times with his tweets, and displayed all the political finesse of a bull in the china shop” and it would be equally valid. If this is the “disruptive change”, then God Save us all.

  5. Francis Adams says:

    Well said. I am among those who have been shot down in a worse at of diabolic, dubious high-handedness. Difference is I am a common man.

  6. pawan bhatia says:

    very well understood and nicely written, the old boys club as shekhar has mentioned just believes in survivol,wiith wanting to just put itself on top,watever it takes,such deep rooted corruption exists,like no other society or culture in the world and how long are people going to take it,and the future rightly put,wat is it but a civil war and before that u may see partition again from places that these politicians are just not concerned,as they are so blinded by greed where the devil lies.

  7. Archana says:

    🙂 Great observation Mr Kapur. But then that is how the world works, isnt it? Not only politics, front soldiers are shot at each and every available point. Be it the very first directors who produced out-of-box films, be it the first IIT/IIM grads who decided not to contribute to the brain drain and continue work for a better India, be it the first politician who really wanted to connect with the people whose mandate put him where he stood.
    No good deed should go unpunished or so believes the Indian media… What an irony it would be if there comes a NEWS channel that thinks out of the box and decides to adopt the policy of “Journalism with integrity”. But till the time IPL controveries, Shoaib – Sania weddings take precedence over real news, there isnt much hope for change. And there is no way they are letting honest people survive or be heard!

  8. Archana says:

    BTW, first time to your blog and I am surprised to see a film maker from BOLLYWOOD quote/adapt from Rene Descartes. Gives me some hope from the film fraternity 🙂 More power be to you!

  9. Nikhil Chinapa says:

    Change is coming Shekhar. It will be fueled by the hopes and dreams of millions of people who want a better life for their children. It will be driven by commerce and industry and most crucially, the youth will be it’s catalyst.

    The seeds of revolution have been sown… and once it’s takes root, the revolution will be franchised.

    🙂
    Nikhil

  10. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    I can totally understand why this has happened. But one has to look at it from all angles – I have always felt that India needs to be ruled with an Iron fist like Lee Kwon Yew, then only true progress ill come. We need to get away from the current parliamentary system and first move to a central Presidential system i.e. abolish all state governments so that there is no regional north south east west politics, follow that up with setting an education criteria for all people contesting elections. The main department that needs to be improved is the police which is paid so less that the law and order is not maintained properly. I will tax the rich a couple of extra percentage points and pay the police very well (they will also have higher selection criteria, people need to be as proud of being a police officer as they feel of being an engineer or doctor) and we can also then provide them the best gadgets.

    I think we did not lose Shahshi Tharoor, with the condition Indian politics is in, this country does not even deserve him. We need a person like Lee Kwan Yew to lead us, not a dignified scholar, we need police like the Singapore police so there there is complete scare on the streets that even if you drop a can of coke on the street that you will be booked. I hope that happens fast.

    One thing that also needs to be added is that Tharoor would never have come here had he become the UN Secy General so the love for Kerela arguement does not hold water. Like all successful people he is in love with himself, which is the obvious pre-condition for super achievement.

    Thank you,
    Himanshu

  11. kvala says:

    If you listen to people in the media on the IPL controversy, you can’t help but wonder if all of our politicians and the so called experts are all morons. These events are proving again and again that indian politics is not for people with any dignity. We are too quick to judge people without getting facts straight. I don’t see any logic in blaming Mr Tharoor when he had no chance in interfering in the outcome of a closed bid. Some folks pointing out the 70 cr equity as a kickback and what I failed to understand is that what was this kickback for? Is it that if you are a relative or a friend of a minister you can’t work for a private enterprise and get any compensation? Folks with any experience in startups will know that a 70 cr sweat equity was not a big amount for brand building activity(I am assuming that was what she was hired for) when the total deal was around 1500 cr. Shame on you India for bringing down a capable minister who had done a lot of good work outside of these controversies which no one cared to look at!

  12. shruti says:

    dear shekhar,
    have been following you for a while on twitter.. nd you reflect what i wud call vocal thinking indian.. but what is indian.. i guess this whole country is made of people like us who have struggled to reach anywhere hence pro-nationalism is only on paper or web. we have to struggle for studies, admissions, rations, jobs, railway tickets, better colleges, infrastructure, even on roads… do you think our leaders are any different.. can an indian born in a poor village dream to be prime minister one day.. without stepping on a lot of people and cutting throats.. why wud the one’s who have had to struggle and resort to such activities like any1… it could be a tech savvy and very sauve mr. tharoor or APJ abdul kalam..or TN Sheshan ..
    so honestly it is no surprise and perhaps congress was looking for a reason to dump him..
    as for the comments of mr himanshu.. i really feel it is easy to make coke can littering offence in singapore.. after all they are just a few sq km country.. with a vast landscape and diversity as we have talking like this would be immature.. it needs much more than law to make it a better place.. it needs an education system both at home and school to instill pro-nationalism and true love for the nation..which would create thinking individuals not iit aspirants at kota institutes in lakhs. it needs proper management to feed hungry children so they don’t grow up to become naxals.. it needs a top brass which fears law and which cannot twist law.. above all it needs a judiciary that can give justice and well in time.. this would help. more than a dictator..
    regards
    shruti

  13. Nice post ! True indeed….sadly he is a poor victim but i guess because of all this fiasco now,
    no minister will ever dare to tweet…this first soldier will surely go down in history !!!

  14. Hari says:

    Thank heavens .. few people share opinions similar to Himanshu . What would have happened to all of us if not . . If the police was to be given more power than what it already has .. then they would practically have enough power to run their own states . Can you imagine a situation when the police bullies people more than it does and then get away scot free because the general said so . It is true that politicians from different corners have been plundering our country & so will anybody who has power . Atleast this way there is accountability ( tharoor has resigned hasn he ? ) . With a dictator .. there will be no such thing .

    Singapore is a fraction the size of our country .. Besides democracy is a time tested system . India with its ample criss cross lines of power gives the individual the freedom and potential to plunder it or develop it . What is important here to note is people have a choice and they must always and this game of plundering & creating is what will further our civilization . Never will single mindedness further anything for long for what is true for a second may seem blasphemous in the next .

  15. Mee says:

    Am afraid I disagree Shekhar. Tharoor’s squeaky claen image was just that -an image. Apparently there are some incriminating sms-es Tharoor sent to Modi that have done him in. So he is not entirely innocent. but, yes, he has become a soft target because he lacks political clout. The daughter of a senior minister from a UPA coalition partner has a catering contract for IPL but no one has raised questions about this. This minister has enormous clout and no one can afford to displease him. No, it is not Sharad Pawar. For someone who has been handling PR in the UN for so many years, Tharoor has been a total PR disaster in politics.

    Also he started believing his image to be the reality. Having followed him on Twitter now for over a year I saw the man slowing becoming arrogant. An example of his arrogance- a loyal fan of his said to him on Twitter (much before the IPL scandal broke out)- that he used to be his die hard biggest fan but is getting disillusioned by him. Tharoor replies- “its ok- I have a huge fan following”!

    Do we need to say more about him? And lets ask ourselves some hard questions- what did he deliver in the time he existed as an EAM? thin Air!

  16. Deepak says:

    Dear Shekhar,

    While I understand Tharoor may be a clean man and one, Indian polity needed, I don;t think one should be so naive not to understand the impropriety here.

    Surely, its not that he wasn;t aware that his girlfriend, with whom he has an active relationship, stands to gain 70 crore worth of sweat equity for a consortium that he was aggressively lobbying for.

    I would have understood it, had he, from day 1 made it clear that he wants Kochi to win the bid….his girlfriend happens to be one of the beneficiaries but HE has nothing to do with her professional abilities and achievements.

    Now, its a case where he has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Its only logical that he must quit.

    Larger issue is, BCCI does need a massive overhaul and clean up.

  17. Cruzworn says:

    Really disagree Shekhar.

    In the last one year of his being in the office, we have only heard controversies about him. On top of that, only 3 of them were relating to the foreign affairs. Had the controversies surrounded the foreign affairs, and his disagreement with the things that are carried out in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it could have been different. It could have been a simple matter of difference in opinions.

    But that is not the case. All controversies are silly to the point (except IPL, which seriously cast doubts on his integrity).

    BTW, his only pluses is that he is articulate and eloquent in his speech. Which again is no certificate of integrity (true he largely has an unblemished record in the past working with UN, but that again is no certificate, things do change).

    If he could have just focussed on his job of handling foreign affairs, I guess that would have been better.

    Twitting by a minister is no wrong. But anyone sitting in his position has to be careful about what he is speaking.

    Lastly, read a lot about people complaining about Indian Political climate and his lack of knowledge about me. But I guess he wouldn’t have survived with the things that he has said, wherever the opposition exists.

    He has to prove a lot to the nation, I feel.

  18. Shuvankar Mukherjee says:

    Shashi Tharoor is the only one, who tried to have a dialog with people. There was many instances when I did not agree with him, but I was always protested against any form of gag order. I always believed in plurality of thought & expression. The truest form of “freedom of expression” is to allow someone speak something that you absolutely disagree from the core of your heart and having the ability, scope and space to debate on it.

    If talking to ordinary people is improper to the existing protocol, then I believe it is time to abolish such antiquated protocol.

    A whole host of political correspondents had their assistants glued to Shashi’s tweets, hoping to pick up EASY NEWS.

    This is not the first time, Shashi was dumped this government, Government of India promoted Shashi’s candidature for the post of UN Secretary General election without proper backup. He lost to Ban.

    Those who say Tharoor has lot to prove, must read his books and read about his exploits at UN (Where he is still loved and liked by all). If his elitism is the problem and you want to purge all the humbugs out the system; then firstly that will be unconstitutional and secondly there are many more deserving candidates than Shashi Tharoor.

  19. vineeth says:

    its quite obvious that shashi tharoor became a soft target in a system that is programmed to ensure that change is doneaway with.over zealous media reporters following his every tweet to wait for that one wrong usage of word has done him more damage than all the corrupt politicians put together.it.i really doubt if we will ever make actual progress in having a mature political system. the really tainted ones go scot free by virtue of a multi party system that ensures their survival.
    as an indian , i feel awful for a a nation that can’t judge the characters we are electing to rule us all.
    and it would be a great loss if he were to abandon politics.

    most of all , i feel sorry for the people in this forum who have already pronounced him guilty .i would have thought , educated as you are , one basic rule that shouldn’t be ignored, as cliched as it sounds is – innocent till proven guilty.

    on one hand we have a man with an unblemished service record who would have been in the chair of ban ki moon (not sure if he’s the one now !) if we had better lobbying power and on the other we have an efficient but ruthless business man whose sole aim is to make money .cricket is just incidental. i think it’s safe to say that tharoor is innocent and a probe ( a fair one at that) will only reiterate that fact.

  20. Saurabh says:

    Shekhar,

    Very well said, bottleneck to the change is always at the top!

    But, you can only bring about change only with honesty and integrity. I was happy as a larry and inspired to see someone as well read & smarte arse as Shashi Tharoor take up the post of Junior Foreign Minister. But the dark, gloomy reality is that he struck a deal which came around to hit him on his backside! PERIOD.

    I am sure Mr. Tharoor and yourself go a long way back. But seeing this valiant effort of yours which is the headline of the day on Mr. Tharoor’s website – I reckon Mr. Tharoor has let you down on this one, sir.

    On the other note, you make me so proud for what you have achieved over all these years. You have broken various and inspired millions!
    And I honestly believe that you are the true bearer of India’s TOP GLOBAL ENTERTAINER ( no punn intended! ) – and I am sure will continue to do us proud.

    Best Regards,
    Saurabh

    ps: Any interesting project in the pipeline? I heard that you are in london often?

  21. Francis D'Silva says:

    Tharoor may have been arrogant or one may say corrupt – I don’t have the facts. He however has provided a glimpse of what politicians of the future can be.

    Feeding people IPL provides people with the intoxication that stops them from questioning a government that has turned its guns on its own people – its indigenous people. Or Maoists as the media machine prefer.

    The question I’d like answered is “Where are India’s next generation of politicians going to come from?” or are we doomed to live with uneducated and criminal politicians who will do everything to maintain the status quo.

    And in a world of growing grassroot-driven democracy, how do Indian citizens participate? We all seem to be waiting for someone else to do things.

  22. Ram says:

    I have been a big fan of Sashi Tharoor, but he has let us down big time. Sweat equity worth Rs.70 crores for someone- completely unknown. If Gavaskar/Ravi Shastri or Sachin Tendulkar ask for Sweat equity- I can understand- there is ground for discussion- but for Sunanda Pushkar?? give me a break- Shekar- will you pay her Rs 70 crore- can u justify it- So, she was getting a piece of the action- because she was connected- There was No merit there, and I would argue it was proxy- Let us accept that Sashi Tharoor is a bundle of contradictions- He has some great qualities and some major flaws (He understands geo politics better than most of us)- I would not put him in the same company as Dr Manmohan Singh. We expected better of Sashi Tharoor-
    No one is surprised that Lailt Modi is fully corrupt- He needs to go- but I am sure he has enough dirt on everyone around him and he will not go down without a fight- I was watching NDTV last night when Vijay Mallya was speaking in defence of Lalit Modi- His step children are working for Lalit Modi- he said without even thinking – about how they got the job- Meritocracy is Dead and Democracy works for you if you can afford it- and Shekar- please stop defending Sashi Tharoor- I dont think he was serving any greater good- and he is No Manmohan Singh- Simply put- he was in love with himself and his vanity undid him

  23. Trupti says:

    Mmmmm…. Nice fresh look of the site!

  24. Kalyan K. Banerjee says:

    I am surprised there is any support for Shashi Tharoor. Is it because he dresses like us, speaks English, tweets, and among the more fortunate sections of society like us? The allegations against him are serious – he tried to manipulate the system to the tune of Rs 50 crores, and tried to use his ministerial authority to influence Lalit Modi. I have no sympathies for him, and I do pray the likes of him do not add to the rot in our society. That his arch enemy, Lalit Modi, is allegedly a bigger fraud, does not make Shashi Tharoor clean.

    You may say he is clean till proved guilty. Still, propriety demanded he resigned immediately and demanded a probe himself. Clean politicians have done that in the past. In his current behavior, he can only be compared with the likes of those who disgraced the government and were asked by the PM to step down.

  25. kavitha says:

    If I may talk to the views of some of the contributors here…

    Ravi Mohan: Are you implying that the one shot down is corrupt and those shooting are not ? If so, would love to know what sources of information helped guide the shaping of your inferences. And would be eager to hear your ideas/suggestions, if any, around disruptive forces of progressive change in India, and how we, not God, can save India…

    Hari: well, if the general himself is corrupt, what can you expect of the police and power placed in their hands? Democracy is surely ‘time-tested’ – but time-tested to what success criteria? I’d think it is a time-tested failure in India in its present form and practice.

    Mee: very valid question. For, at the end of the day that’s exactly the kind of governance we aspire to, isn’t it ? – one with openness and transparency into what our elected leaders are doing for us? So, shouldn’t we be asking: are there mechanisms in place in the political infrastructure, including the media (beyond Tharoor’s tweets to engage and reach out, bridled by that very system) to enable you & me access to information on what he HAS delivered? And, shouldn’t we also question the political process and ask: was he *allowed* to deliver what he might have considered to be best for India & its citizens ? Is any citizen privy to that information?

    Cruzworn: you are right, “we have only heard controversies about him”. What does that say about the Indian Media and its standards of reporting?

    I am not shy to admit that I am one of the “few people” sharing Himanshu’s view. I’ve had conversations expressing similar views before – the most common counter-point being one of Singapore being too small/less diverse a country to even compare. Granted Singapore is a small country …but in democratic India, can we stand proud of even a SINGLE state as a progressive counterpart to a country like Singapore, to say we have anything close to fair & reasonable living standards for all, and inclusive growth (vs. isolated bubbles of development & wealth). A chance conversation with a Singaporean cab-driver during my ride from Changi to the hotel at 2 a.m., a few years ago, exposed me to the song of the heart of the local people, and their hidden affection for Lee Kwan Yew (despite all that I had heard & harbored thus far about his authoritarian regime and leadership). One only has to immerse & talk to people on the streets, to have a greater appreciation for the kind of governance that brought a country with no natural resources or indigenous assets, to a state of prosperity in a span of less than 50 years, and today stands as the 5th wealthiest country in terms of GDP /capita. Get rid of jargon such as ‘dictatorship’ and look across just a few basic dimensions that makes for a stable civil society – poverty, crime, basic services (like water, food, health, electricity etc. for all), public security, a just system around offense & retribution, cultural asset preservation, economic development & opportunities, and perhaps many more . I do not claim to know it all about Singaporean governance intricacies, but at the end of the day, what matters is the quality of life of its people, whether it is through a democracy or otherwise. How safe is it for a teenager or a woman to just walk out of an airport, hail a cab and travel 50 miles at 2 a.m. in India – I know I would think hard if I were to do it. I would think hard even if I were to do it during the day in some places! But I did it fearlessly and with ease in Singapore. How safe is it to even walk into a German bakery in urban India for a cup of coffee and cake anymore? And if you think Singapore doesn’t have its share of diversity and differences, think again. Fueled by political motivations or greed, while we are destroying our colorful & privileged diversity, a country like Singapore forges ways to celebrate its diversity & co-exist harmoniously (one POV: http://blogs.straitstimes.com/2009/8/15/proud-of-singapore-s-diversity). How many beggars and mendicants have you seen in the subways or streets of Singapore? Are there any? Who are the hooligans in our Administration who thwarted civil proceedings in the House last Friday? Is there not a civil manner to debate issues in our Parliament, that a Minister of the world’s largest democracy (irrespective of what it is that he has to communicate) has to come out of his House and to the street, to read his statement & message to the people of India (and the world) through another mostly dysfunctional enterprise called Indian Media? That was a sad day. And I was ashamed. The list can go on, but if this is what time-tested democracy gives us, even God cannot save us!

    Too many of us have settled for, come to accept, and become blasé about our own dysfunctional system, at every level of public service impacting our daily lives. Unless the citizens of India raise the threshold of expectations — of ourselves, of what our society ought to be, what kind of private enterprise we should be supporting/propagating, and what kind of leaders ought to represent our voices and sentiments — it is the sub-optimal governance that we will continue to endure.

    Do we — the leaders and those led — really have shared values for a vibrant society and a thriving economy?

  26. Raghu says:

    Why do we feel so much of anguish and uneasiness when something that is contrary to our perception happens? Especially, when we also know that what we know is just a perception which may or maynot be a complete truth. We will never know how corrupt or clean Mr. Tharoor is; we will also never know how corrupt, how inefficient or uncivilized our society, of which, we all, our politicians & the media too are an integral part. We at the best can only assume, imagine or anticipate their actions and thoughts.

    Or is the uneasiness & anguish of being in a position to understand the prevailing scenario and still not being able to make any constructive difference to it. Equality, fairness, justice, peace, etc. have forever been as intangible & unattainable as measuring the no of atoms in universe. So will they be now and for all times to come. Democracy, dictatorship or Royalty notwithstanding, the lives of humans at lowest level remain unchanged.

  27. Rajesh Shetty says:

    Shekhar,

    I like the new look of your blog, except for the white box behind your name. Your picture on the director chair is pretty neat and the best part of the new blog is the image behind the text “I exist because you imagine I do”

    Rajesh.

  28. krish says:

    truely an eloquent article….enjoyed reading it….But, what is the change that Tharoor brought about in the system or to the constituency that sent him to the parliament with a 1 lac + majority??? Is being an MP and twitting such a big deal to honour him with a title of “agent of change”?? I surey had a great opinion on ST till the IPLGATE….the facts truely stack up against ST….sweat equity for Sunanda P for her marketing prowess(???), his OSD at the venue of the IPL auction(why???), looking back, the phrase “i mentored ipl kochi” truely sounds inapt, rather, it should have been “i brokered the ipl kochi deal”!! for a guy like me, who was elated to have an eminent international spokesperson of indian origin in the parliament, this episode surely has left a bad taste…..btw, am not a fan of modi either!!

  29. Shankar says:

    I dont believe that Shashi Tharoor was guilty of corruption in the normal “scheme” of things (trying to pocket money for self/brethren). He wouldn’t have chosen a front like Sunanda if he was truly corrupt and intended to benefit monetarily. He probably expected to benefit vis-a-vis his private life… his relationship as well as ensure a spot in the limelight for very many years from the IPL Kochi episode and made a major mistake in blurring the fine line between his private life and public life by supporting an iffy consortium.

    i think Shashi Tharoor was so smitten by Sunanda Pushkar that he did not apply his mind and address the misgivings that must surely have arisen in his mind regd. IPL Kochi and the sweat equity, largesse given to Sunanda.

    Probably he felt that it was a decision by a private consortium and he could follow a policy of “dont ask, dont tell” and stick to his main agenda – IPL Kochi succeeding in the bid and probably continuing his relationship and being a part of the IPL Kochi bandwagon.

    He justified (and continues to justify) his actions to himself by sticking to the point that he is not going to benefit from the episode. However it appears to be a case of corruption even if he did not earn or better still, even if he did not intend to earn a single rupee/paisa from the whole exercise, even in the future. Using one’s influence to benefit oneself (directly/through a proxy) is improper… Benefiting a friend or an acquaintance unjustly w/o oneself benefiting in the slightest from the episode would still be improper behavior.

    I think if he looks back at the episode in hindsight, he may recognize/acknowledge (privately) that he’s likely been tricked by the lady in question with the tacit approval of the kochi consortium who ought to have been a bit less extravagant while evaluating her skills.

    -Shankar

  30. Soji Varghese says:

    Dear Shekar,

    This is an amazing article. I too feel that Dr. Tharoor was made a scapegoat in the better interest of other corrupt political stake holders. I would like to see how many from the NCP is being charge sheeted after the IT probe is over? Will the PM Dr.Singh ask them to resign? That would be interesting to watch!

  31. divya says:

    I am amazed that anyone who is intelligent would attempt to defend Shashi Tharoor.
    Shashi Tharoor is an opportunist. A womaniser. A hypocrite. A vain and narcisstic individual. A corrupt man who is now crying …..

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the kings horses and all the kings men
    Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again!!

  32. RISHI RAJ says:

    every one knows every thing then what is the problem.don;t we know that indian politics is corrupted and is always bend in its on way.talking metaphysics is something we are blessed with but then we find entangled ourselves in the same whirlpool again and again.i regret shashi tharoor;s exit as he was the epitome of indian obama sort of leaders but he was always in a pace of maximizing or minimizing situations not optimizing them.after your defeat at UN you were given an opportunity to be in a system to change the system.

    rishi

  33. Bela Butalia says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    Since the post-Indira Gandhi days, we have been witnessing the phenomenon of Doon school-type polished youngsters being inducted into the system and then strutting onstage displaying their accents, style and glamour. Some have also had the tag of ‘honest’ pasted on them by the media to justify their presence as elected representatives, when we all know that in India a political party gives a ticket to someone and then issues a whip to get him/her elected. So, what does it mean for the Indian voter that his/her leader is honest? Can this honesty ensure that the leader will also make the right decisions for the public? Does ‘public’ mean only the persons listed in his/her constituency (such that we find a leader fighting to get a team for his state)? As MOS (and here I am directly referring to Mr. Tharoor), such a leader should also be capable of giving a new dimension and thinking to his ministry. It should be a dimension which is first of all democratic, so that more and more people in the country can identify themselves with this thinking. Being a MOS and not an EA Minister, I understand that there are limitations but at least there should be some public thinking on how India should look at external relations, and some critical analysis of the current thinking. This can be a purely academic exercise, and not bring in sensitive state decisions. We need a theoretical paradigm, not local initiatives. a really interested minister could easily invite citizens to debate on new thinking without getting himself into a soup with his bosses. Tweeting can be a charming way of opening out to the common people (although we all know that it is not the common people who access Twitter), but surely by condemning a particular travel class as ‘cattle class’, in the Indian context such a leader is actually condemning all of us who travel such a class and think that we are privileged to be able to afford to travel at all. These are aristocratic pretensions which a political leader who wishes to represent the common people just cannot have. I have no doubt on Mr. Shashi Tharoor’s talents and capabilities, his sensitivity and his ability to express himself, but he should not have chosen the political stage to display them. He could easily have got the admiration and applause he craved for by remaining a high-level bureaucrat with one of the various international organisations located in Delhi, or even one of the quasi-government NGOs set up by ex-government officials. Such places are frequented by persons who are the elite in Delhi and who to some extent share Mr. Tharoor’s life-style. It’s the Twitter world in flesh and blood here. Here he would have been feted and invited and ‘listened to without being listened to’, and loved also for his elegance and charm. Indian politics is a different cup of tea. You can either join it and play along the beaten path, or (and this will be the challenge of the future) understand how distant it is from actual public service and try to fill this lacunae. Because if we have a political leader who is asking us to support him/her only in his personal defiances and swaggers, the reply will be, why should we? I think even the gesture of getting a cricket team for Kochi is really an irrelevant matter for people. I would surely not vote for Mr. Tharoor on the basis of any of the initiatives he has taken so far, I mean the ones we read about in public (I do not have access to what he has actually done for Indian foreign affairs during his tenure). It is a totally different matter that he has a right to his private life, to tweet on Twitter and to push for sports teams in his state and so on. But how does that affect the Indian citizen, or make life better for anyone?

  34. himanshu says:

    We can only read news/blogs/tweets and type. 🙂

  35. Snoop says:

    Do you really think Shashi Tharoor is honest? He’s a good for nothing piece of shite who entered the Indian political bullring with his pants down (yep, literally). In the process he got what he deserved — he got his puny, old skinny arse whipped. Please do not try to give an Obama-ish twist by using the word ‘Change’ liberally. He’s no Obama, he does not represent the change in India – the change in India has got nothing to do with Indian politics. The change in India is that the current generation can call a spade a spade.
    You know that the real reason that Tharoor had to quit was because the IB found that his stories and rhetoric did not add up to what they found. Don’t you think that him getting emails with bid evaluations definitely had something to do with Rendezvous coming up with the magical number of $333 million? Don’t you think that the 70 crores his mistress got as ‘sweat equity’ was for all the sweat she poured on Tharoor’s bed?
    Tharoor was not meant to be a politician — he was meant to be a socialite, a smooth talker who has hordes of teens as followers, a dog with a harem of women he can pick from – he’s nothing more than that — period. Good riddance…

  36. Cruzworn says:

    Presidential System can never work for India for the reason of sheer diversity that exists in India. The arguments that are given even today in favour of the presidential system were deeply debated during the meetings of constituent assembly, and the decision taken was really well thought out.

    Firstly, and the foremost, Presidential system cannot break the ancient prejudices and cast system (on the basis of which almost two third of India votes) that are deep rooted in India. They do not exist because of parliamentary system, they exist for other reasons. If you get presidential system into India, the forces that draw their powers from these ancient systems will mould their ways to fit their agenda into the new system. So it does not help.

    On the contrary, it works against the interest of India. It simply does not work for India. More than unifying the country, it has the potential of dividing India even more. The reason is very simple. Prejudices in the multiple number communities living in India, though not appearing on surface, are very much there under the carpet. With the presidential system adopted, these prejudices could come on the surface. There will never be an agreement on who should be the candidate of one party.

    So I disagree Himanshu. It is better for all of us that 500 odd representatives get into the question as to who should be the Prime Minister, rather than thousands and thousands of self appointed leaders of
    making people die to further their agendas.

  37. rajesh says:

    SK…… well written….. so very true….”an antiquated corrupt and bloated system that feeds upon the incredible resilience, enterprise and fortitude of the Indian people”.

    change is in the air….. hope we get to experience it in our lifetime…..

    to me sashi was an element in that winds of change…… its was sad to see his exit

  38. Lawisgreek says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    Nice post, however I wish to say something. Some of the excerpts of my thoughts

    The Shashi Tharoor Controversy: Justice 4 All Indian Cricket Lovers?

    On 18th April, 2010, Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs and one of India’s most controversial ‘Twitter’ icons, resigned from his position, following a one-on-one meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. The Tharoor-Kochi IPL controversy posed serious issues for the Congress leadership because it tainted the party’s political image and enabled the BJP, the main Opposition party, to dig deeper and unearth more scandals to slam the Congress leadership with.

    The can of worms, as we can rightly put it, was opened by none other than Lalit Modi, the IPL Commissioner, who alleged that Shashi Tharoor had shown personal interest in the Kochi IPL consortium and asked him not to reveal the stakeholders in it, and that he had mentioned Sunanda Pushkar’s name in particular. Throughout the week, speculations raged about Tharoor’s personal involvement in the Kochi IPL cricket franchise bid. His personal ‘friendship’ with Sunanda Pushkar came under severe media scrutiny. There were reports that Sunanda Pushkar, a Dubai-based socialite, was given sweat equity that was worth about Rs. 70 crore in the Kochi IPL consortium.
    In an attempt to make amends to salvage Tharoor’s image, Sunanda Pushkar offered to give up her sweat equity on 18th April but this was slammed by the BJP as a clear admission of her guilt. On 19th April, the Income Tax Department gave him a clean chit, stating that he had no benefits from the Kochi-IPL deal. The IT officials will now probe into Lalit Modi’s involvement in betting, money laundering and vested interests in the IPL. The probe will also investigate whether the stakeholders are acting as ‘fronts’ for Modi. The entry of Shashi Tharoor into Indian politics sparked great expectations from people in the country for several reasons. Tharoor’s illustrious career as a diplomat with the UN catapulted him into the global limelight and he became a senior advisor to the UN Secretary General. For most educated Indians, Tharoor’s entry into politics marked the beginning of a new era of hope. A majority of politicians and particularly those who occupy positions of power are reportedly tainted with allegations of corruption, inefficiency, lack of accountability and tendency of succumbing to pressures of existing vote bank politics and even involvement in criminal cases.
    Politicians in India are expected to have a brand image in public life. A French President or an American President may get away with having a girlfriend in tow but not in this country, where morality is as much a religion for the masses and the political bigwigs as is cricket. A favor done for a girl friend is simply not acceptable or justifiable for any political party in India to condone. Any link-ups with the opposite sex are a complete no-no for any ambitious political leader in this country. In Indian politics, even a mere hint of a ‘moral scandal’ becomes shaky ground for any leader worth his/her name to command the respect of other leaders, parliamentarians and most importantly, the people of the country. One wonders whether there is a tinge of ridiculous hypocrisy in this, however, dear friends, this is exactly the kind of hot soup Tharoor fell into and has paid the price for. Octogenarian Indian politicians cannot digest having a minister who is internet savvy and is connecting to the youth on a medium that they don’t understand. Shashi Tharoor probably is looked upon as a liability by some sections of his own party because his statements (tweets) bring a new controversy for congress almost every quarter. One of the most talked about tweets that got Tharoor in trouble was one where he was asked whether he would travel cattle class and he tweeted back, “absolutely, in cattle class, out of solidarity with all the holy cows!” This tweet was essentially a joke but it didn’t go too well with the Congress as it sounded like a cynical statement, considering the media publicity surrounding Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai by train on the very same day.
    The very same day, Jayanthi Natarajan, one of the spokespersons for the Congress, stated, that such remarks are unacceptable and totally insensitive. The Congress Party saw no humor in this tweet and tried to create a rift between Tharoor and Sonia Gandhi, who met him and reportedly told him that even harmless comments tend to be blown out of proportion by the media and therefore, he needs to exercise more caution. Just as Tharoor’s tweets landed him in trouble, Lalit Modi’s style of managing the IPL had been arbitrary. Cricketers criticized his autocratic style of having 10 teams, which in turn implied 93 matches. Cricketers pointed out that planning or having so many matches would kill the spirit of the players and the fans and that too much of this would kill the enjoyment and entertainment of IPL itself. Now, more twists are happening in the IPL saga as there are reports about a facilitation fee of $80 million that has been paid by Multi Screen Media, formerly known as Sony Entertainment Television, to the World Sports Group. What’s interesting is that this is a deal about which the BCCI has no knowledge because Modi was handling it and had not given even a hint of this facilitation agreement to the BCCI. Those who have misused their positions of authority for personal motives, are accountable to the people of this country. That is the law of this land and it applies to each and every one, which is why on 19th April, the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee assured members of the Parliament that the investigation process against Modi will be probed thoroughly. It was stated that all aspects including funding and routes through which the funds were secured will be probed too. The Finance Minister asserted, “No guilty or wrong doer will be spared.”

    We agree that such vested interests and corrupt deals must be brought to light because the public deserve to know the truth about what really happened.

    The next time we, the people, cheer and demand for more IPL matches, we also need to remember that IPL auctions poses the danger of money laundering and the entities have public accountability to make essential disclosures about the funding sources without fail.

    Let’s also remember that every time we shirk responsibility to create change, we are no different from the leaders we have elected because these questions loom large before us and the answers are for us to find, not pass forward to others

  39. Shravan says:

    Hey Mr. Shekhar.. How hv you got such a tremendous clarity? The truth you hv said is absolute..

  40. Chaitali says:

    I wish we had one media which was honest and true. I have stopped subscribing for times of india. For one whole week the front page news was Sania’s marrieage…. and no mention about the water fight…or any such real news that I would like to know about. I am trying DNA….if anyone could suggest which newspaper to subscribe for.??

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