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Is Shashi Tharoor’s speech real and relevant?

December 7, 2009

A recent speech by Shashi Tharoor is a feel good speech and I would say Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul. Sure, it’s bound to  arouse a certain amount of cynicism because of well, a certain amount of hype. Despite that it’s a speech that can fill one’s heart with hope. It’s not as if  Tharoor has lied about anything. He has just give us a sugar coated pill, and it’s a pill that we all need to take once in a while.

Tharoor, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, is clever enough to admit that India has a long long way to go when it comes to economic development and acknowledges that unless India’s vast human capital is underdeveloped, as long as  India is “superpoor”, it cannot call itself a super power.

The speech focuses on how much India has developed, and he talks of telecommunications. I could not help but relate to his anecdotes of  20 years ago when one had to wait for years to get a telephone connection and the times when one had to place a “trunk call” if one had to call someone from out of town. A trunk call which could take hours to arrive and what you did in the meanwhile was hang around waiting for it. Unless one placed an expensive “lightening call” which took half an hour! I remember that I grew up during the time when telegrams were the order of the day and one of things which made my parents happy was when they could book a telegram on the phone! Well, as Shashi Tharoor mentions, those days are long gone. Today even the working classes in India own telephones. Something that has greatly aided them in their business activities.

But it is not this which Tharoor really talked about. He talks about India’s soft power and mentions how India has put itself on the world map because of this. He talks of India’s soft power in terms of its music, its movies, its cuisine and disciplines like Yoga, Ayurveda which have spread all across the world.  And also about India’s people, the scientists and doctors to mathematicians and software gurus who have made the world over sit up and take notice of India. Tharoor also talks of India’s rich heritage of 23 languages, innumerable scripts, its diverse culture and religions.

He emphasizes India’s democratic traditions and openness which go back hundreds of years. “India has been an open society since millenia,” he says. All this, Tharoor feels, has made a difference. The image of India as a land of fakirs and snake charmers is gone. The richness and diversity of India’s story “rests on a fundamental platform of political pluralism”.

He feels India is one-up on the United States, which had a President of another race for the first time in its history when it elected Barack Obama. India on the other hand has had diverse leaders, from all backgrounds and religions. Ofcourse it’s not as simple as he makes it sound, but it’s good to hear. What is true is that India is a diverse plural democracy. I am more sceptical when he says that India is a place where we ” don’t have to agree, just agree where to disagree” or when he says that the people of India have “learnt to survive without consensus.” But if the key word is “survive” I guess he is right. We are surviving without consensus, but we do have a long way to go.

At the end of it all, we need to remember that India is being respected more than earlier because we are now a “market” and have some amount of economic power. That is what a commentator of this blog had pointed out to me once. This is what he said:

From an every day perspective your culture traditions etc will matter to a man on the street more as your economy grows and with that how you touch western lives. Notice how Japanese culture went from being joked about in the 1950s to being respected by the average man on the street in the early 90s as their economy caught up with the west. India too has in concert with its economic progress increased its image greatly from a land of maharajas and snake-charmers to well.. something better.

Related Reading: Five Things I love about being Indian
India’s democracy has its flaws but it is still a democracy
Multi-cultural, multi-racial India
India scores badly on the Global Peace Index

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61 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2009 6:55 pm

    Shashi Tharoor is a typical politician in India who is trying hard to find a place for himself in Indian politics. Likes of him know nothing about India except what was learnt during his stint with the UN.
    I have been following his speeches and it seems he has the habit of jumping the Q.
    Did you follow his interview with Karan Thapar on the the 6th?
    He is the first Indian minister to have stated on national television that Pakistan’s Nukes are in SAFE HANDS.Such political statements are to be made with utmost care and that too when one is sitting across Karan Thapar.
    He is still in learning stage about India and Indian politics.
    I feel,he is around because of two reasons—-a relatively weak Foreign minister —- and his relative greater knowledge of the Americans.
    However,he has a long way to go, subject to Rahul Gandhi’s continued support.

  2. December 7, 2009 7:41 pm

    I am not really sure,but what i have felt is that Sashi Taroor is a new-brand politician,trying to gain attention,and attention alone ..Of course,his experiences are of different genre,so i think he may hardly accomplish anything good,for the public,within our indian system of politics..

  3. December 7, 2009 8:01 pm

    We have some complaining that our politicians are not educated enough. And if someone of Mr Tharoors education and background became a politician then I guess we should give him a chance. Also he was elected with good majority from Trivandrum.
    Coming back to the post, I am sure he is able to reach out to the people with his speeches. Thats good, and I agree with the fact that India has a long way to go.

  4. December 7, 2009 10:19 pm

    Maybe, just maybe the ending is too rosy..yes his speech is true, but then today that very pluralism and acceptance is threatened by ignorance and exploitation…one thing is for sure, we need more leaders who are capable..

  5. December 8, 2009 12:29 am

    @ Nita : I miss those old telegram days. I remember waiting for letters and writing them. In a way I think we were happier then, than now. However keeping up with the times is something one is forced to do, but going back is something that one can opt for. Perhaps one day I will be able to return to that lifestyle.

    • Vijay permalink
      February 13, 2010 11:29 am

      U believe its now easy to be without your mobile phone or internet to reach out to these many ppl with ease to express your view on this point …. ? … May be its good to think that we still happy with what we have.. :)

  6. Arun permalink
    December 8, 2009 2:16 am

    Well
    Shashi tharoor has been repeating the same thing for at least 10 years now… Same examples… Check out his books India: From midnight to millennium, and his columns in the hindu

  7. Sanjay permalink
    December 8, 2009 2:16 am

    I do not think Tharoor said ” don’t have to agree, just agree where to disagree”, rather he said ” don’t have to agree, just agree on how to disagree”. This is an important distinction because it also ties in to Gandhiji’s message of non-violence i.e. of an an India where every religion can flourish and disagreements should be settled non-violently.

    There were other nuances. He said that the concept of a world power is “archaic”, reminiscent of the James Bond era, that this “is not what India is, or should be all about.” India will be the world’s most populous country but it will not be size of the army that wins but which country tells “a better story”.

  8. December 8, 2009 4:24 am

    soudns like a good motivationa speech:) I think we all need to ehar that from time to time…
    India is a great country, absolutely!

    • December 9, 2009 10:53 pm

      I feel bad when we put down great motivational speeches, I agree with you Axinia, we need to hear this from time to time!

      • December 10, 2009 10:00 am

        I am with you here IHM! One should not put down hope and positivity. This negativism about India has reached new heights because recently I met an 18 year old boy living in India and he said:

        India is nothing, can you even call it a country! Its not even a country! Its best to get out of here, to America or something.

        Another person, an NRI said to me:

        India is backward and in the dark ages. Thats why I got out. There is no infrastructure here, not even toilets.

        What I cannot understand is that how you can hate your own motherland and think it is the pits! We are denying our own genes, our own selves.

        • vinayak permalink
          January 10, 2010 1:10 pm

          rather than complaining about our own nation we should get forward and change it. ur right nita

  9. December 8, 2009 7:14 am

    “India has been an open society since millenia,” – that’s why we’ve been invaded and conquered since millenia…Kidding aside, I think we should give him a chance…He’s new and has a lot of things to learn but at least he can think and speak…

  10. December 8, 2009 8:20 am

    His speech is the most convenient one and can be used in any situation. As an Indian it is nice to hear it.

  11. December 8, 2009 8:54 am

    B K Chowla, true, he is an elitist (he said Indian women should start wearing sarees!!) and therefore I too do not think he is any high shakes. However I think he is better than the current corrupt ignorant and stupid politicians that our country has.

    Nimmy, that is a very important point you have raised. The question is how much good can he do, knowing the current Indian political system?

    Xylene and sraboneyghose, yes he certainly deserves a chance and less of cynicism. After all look at the other politicians, they are mostly worse!

    Vishesh, depends on how we define capability. Capability needs to be able to work round the system. At times I feel Tharoor may not be able to break the back of this system.

    odzer, don’t wish that! :)

    Arun, he is a stuck record eh?? :)

    Sanjay, you are probably right, I need to hear the speech again to confirm! About his talk of India’s story, don’t you think its just words?

    Axinia, agreed!!

    Prerna, yeah, it feels really good!!

  12. December 8, 2009 9:05 am

    What to do with India.? Is a question that better part of the mass intelligentsia is asking now.ironically no one has a clue either. Lets face it – I will not leave my job and go work for the government or serve the country no matter how patriotic I maybe.Come to think of it how many of us will ever do that? yet we continue to crib, rant and rave about how our country has not met it s true potential.People want to let this country roll on like a juggernaut , where somehow magically everything will fall in place.

    Well, if something needs to be done, then it s you and me first. Like DJ said in Rang de…”apney ghar ki safai mein toh haath gande karney hi padtey hain….”and if we chose to keep our hands clean, then no point in commenting on leaders,politicians,corruption,democracy etc etc.

    Who is going to be the fire starter?

    • December 8, 2009 9:24 am

      gyanban, I don’t think you should even feel guilty about not leaving your job to do the things you mentioned. A lot of people are under the wrong impression that they should get into direct social work etc to help the country. If everyone did that our country would go DOWN!! Just doing a job well, and a good citizen is enough. That is what is the meaning of you and me first. No bribing, no cheating, paying one’s taxes, being productive, doing a bit of charity on the side and so on. And you are helping the country.

  13. Vinod permalink
    December 8, 2009 3:03 pm

    Nita, in your baner picture, is that a guy in pink shirt putting his hand into the pocket of anothr guy?!
    Just asking.

    • December 8, 2009 3:50 pm

      Thats something I had not noticed until you brought it to my notice. I checked a picture of a higher resolution than I have here and it does seem like it! :)

    • Vinod permalink
      December 10, 2009 9:46 am

      Indian male intimacy, eh? I miss that. When I was in US with my brother, I put my arm over his shoulders like the way friends do in India and he sharply pushed it away worried that people around would think of us as homosexuals. I feel a bit sorry for men in US who don’t get the simple non-sexual human touch of their friends of the same gender.

  14. Joss permalink
    December 8, 2009 3:57 pm

    Hey, yes, that list of India’s ‘soft power’ is a long one. Those things are exactly what India means to me – the music, movies, food, yoga, ayurveda, doctors, scientists, software engineers. Plus, the festivals, clothes, literature and art. It’s a very long list, and one that we here in Britain could not compile for many other non-European nations. And yes, this respectability has been enhanced by the fact that all the seats in business class seem to be occupied by Indians, and the more expensive supermarkets all stock Indian ingredients for Indian people, and the fact that such a high percentage of children attending private indepedent schools here are Indian. The poverty back in India doesn’t cancel all that out. Of course, you can’t ignore the problems, as you find as soon as you travel to the country. But still, it seems to me that India would be a great place to live right now. There isn’t the same optimism here, far from it. Western civilisation is sinking; and whilst we all will sink under the rising sea levels of global warming, I think that economically we will go under first.

    • Lakshmi permalink
      December 8, 2009 4:30 pm

      India needs a political revolution, just like we had an economic revolution in the 90s. Until then we have to live with being ashamed of what our politicians say and do.

  15. Anil permalink
    December 8, 2009 6:49 pm

    It is rare to come across an articulate indian politician who can hold his own in an international setting – and that is where I think he scores. There are so few of our politicians who can put across a point of view and move the audience – notice how he connected with the audience with the jews example. Can you imagine what would happen if Manmohan Singh was this articulate.
    And as far as soft power is concerned this is the right time for India. The west is getting satiated with things – after all how much more can you buy. And is looking for different answers. India with its inclusive hinduism has the answers and that is why the west is coming here seeking answers. These are trends that are irreversible.
    But like true Indians we will not take advantage of this, the opportunity that it offers. It is not the Indian way. Our religion which is a culture will not allow us to do so.

  16. rags permalink
    December 8, 2009 9:09 pm

    I hope Tharoor is able to bring a new approach to bureaucracy in his Ministry. I wonder if his stints in the U.N. will bring any value addition to his present job considering that they are vastly different in scope and execution.
    The speech is typical Taroor talk, as a reader above mentioned he used to write for the Hindu and the speech is a compilation of his previous articles. But I feel the postive thought needs to be appreciated even if it is only part of the cynical manipulations of a politician. We need more people in polity that the middle class can relate to, if only to remove apathy and engage them in the democratic process because if anyone can actually bring some change in the way India is governed it is the middle class.

    rags, I agree that we should stop being cynical. I am sure Tharoor has his faults but to me the greatest qualification a politician can have is that if he not corrupt and has good intentions towards India and is educated! Maybe this means that I am expecting to little, but I think we have far too many corrupt, criminal and anti-national politicians in our country. – Nita.

  17. December 8, 2009 10:50 pm

    Yayyyyy done the tag :)

  18. December 8, 2009 11:08 pm

    I had commented on this post!! cant see my comment now :(

    Reema, it must have gone into spam. Unfortunately I have been deleting my spam without checking these days as I have been flooded with spam of late. If you ever have a problem of your comment just disappearing, please drop me a note so I can retrieve your comment. – Nita

  19. December 8, 2009 11:11 pm

    Hmm now this one I can see. Anyway so I think he is not only a “refined” politician but also very suave. I just hope he does something worthwhile except getting into controversies with his comments and tweets.

    Reema, controversies over his words is better than getting into a controversy over some dubious deal! But yeah, I too hope he actually does something noteworthy.- Nita

  20. December 8, 2009 11:12 pm

    I have read this speech now.. but I don’t believe our Politicians much.. many a times I believed them and I am fooled everytime… so whatever they say, I want it to be backed up with action…

    and the comment you have quoted is really interesting and also seems to be true.. :) :)

    Kanagu, yeah, it will be sad if he turns out to be a talker only! – Nita

  21. rishi permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:31 am

    Soft power basically consists of the country’s music, film, books and assorted creative arts.

    It is greatest when people are free to make different kinds and types of films, books, paintings etc. That is sadly not the case in India today. Especially for films, controversial subjects are not touched at all. Cinema houses are burned if a particular group does not like a film. Frivolous lawsuits are filed on the flimsiest of grounds.

    It is so bad that the iconic films about India are made by foreign directors (Gandhi, Slumdog)

    Unless we unshackle our filmmakers, authours, painters etc the growth of soft power will be stunted and will not reach it’s true potential.

    rishi, what is true ofcourse that certain topics are not welcome but those are mostly topics like homosexuality and so on but these films are made nonetheless. We do have plenty of good movies to showcase though. – Nita

    • Lakshmi permalink
      December 9, 2009 4:21 pm

      True. Indian society is a goldmine as far as potential for films and research in sociology are concerned. But this potential sadly remains untapped.

      And also the human potential remains untapped! – Nita

  22. Sanjay permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:36 am

    Maybe Tharoor should use his considerable communication skills to challenge people’s (including of Indians themselves) notion about India. Perhaps it would be better to allow people to formulate their own stories about India, rather than having to buy into Tharoor’s version of it.

    Take something as stark, as real, as undeniable like Dharavi, part of what he terms India’s “super-poor” (as opposed to super power) and challenge his audience. Is India not shining because slums like Dharavi exist right in the middle of some very expensive real estate? or is India shining because Dharavi exists or rather allowed to exist, that this unsightly slum is not bulldozed away by the all-powerful state as it would be in most other countries? Soft power of a different sort?

    Sanjay, You have formed an intelligent opinion, but there are many who do need guidance. In fact all of us need some sort of guidance at times. – Nita

  23. December 9, 2009 2:42 am

    Tharoor speaks well to English speaking urban elite audience and is so popular among them. He has not proved that he is different from other politicians by any of his actions. He likes a life in luxury and spotlight.It is said that he paid a million rupees just to get the ticket for Parliament election.He likes to promote himself and may earn millions writing about his stint in Indian Government. He will not bring any positive change in Indian politics.

    Charakan, to me at least he stands out, although he may turn out to be a talker rather than a doer. After all we have so many corrupt politicians in this country that I think we should the honest. If he has spent his personal fortune for a ticket or for any other reason, it is okay, its his wish. – Nita

    • December 12, 2009 12:40 am

      All the indications from his past and present is that he is just a publicity digger and a fairly good speaker but not a doer.
      He joined Congress Party few months before the elections.He bribed the local Congress leaders so as to get a Parliamentary seat by passing many other poorer aspirants who had toiled for the Party for decades. Can we expect something different from him?

  24. December 9, 2009 12:31 pm

    Bold & smart.. he’s soooo good at expressing his views.. people likes him, so lots of followers. I guess, He can bring change in our system if he is in right team. he is much better

    I agree Bharath. He has something. – Nita

    • December 9, 2009 10:44 pm

      I have to agree with Bharath! He can bring change in our system if he is in right team. he is much better… … if he knows what to say which most others don’t, maybe he knows what to do better than those who have no idea what to even say.

  25. Jayan Damodaran permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:23 pm

    Shashi Tharoor, though novice in Indian politics, is a shrewd guy. He knows how to stay in news always and has a good language and international experience.

    But speeches, as we all know today, are not made from heart; they are from brain!

    So, I must say, his speech is relevant but no idea if it’s real!
    It’s anybody’s guess!

    Jayan, true true! That guy has the power of words, and is clever as well, but at times I doubt his IQ! – Nita

  26. December 9, 2009 9:18 pm

    All the good parts of his speech sounds very similar to those ages old emails floating around from hotmail times about what Indians have given to world and which top company has how many indians etc etc. Obviously we have come a long way since 1991 but as he agreed himself a vast majority of indians are still superpoor. Regarding softpower, I can certainly be proud of Yoga and cuisine but can’t say the same thing about movies though.

    In a nutshell, its a speech only…he didn’t made any promises to take actions or revealed any plans…so sounds like he is setlled well in Delhi just like other seat hogging politicians.

    awakeindian, yeah you are right, there is nothing original in his speech, it is simply re-packaged. That is why I doubt his IQ at times! – Nita

  27. Lakshmi permalink
    December 9, 2009 9:29 pm

    He is a great talker, reminds me always of Obama. If most of these soft sells had come from another normal politician, it would not have hit the media or touched many people. The guy is great in communicating, which has great power. Hope he does something worthwhile more than talking.

    Lakshmi, somehow I think Obama is far superior. – Nita

  28. December 9, 2009 10:36 pm

    “India has been an open society since millenia,” I think this is true and this is something to be proud of. I haven’t heard the speech but whatever you have quoted here made me think well of Shashi Tharoor.
    I don’t like the other kind of speeches we get to hear? The kind that make us think our openness is exploited by the ancestors of some Indian citizens? What a politician says matters, I feel if they say positive things, I mean really positive – they can gradually make us feel positive.
    I feel that matters.

    IHM, I think well of him too, but I think he cannot match Obama’s magnetism or intelligence. – Nita

  29. December 9, 2009 11:03 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I have done the tag :) :)

  30. December 10, 2009 10:26 am

    Nita, culture (movies, books, music etc.) are among other things, means for a society to understand and imagine itself. Turning it into some ‘power’ game is ill-advised.

  31. December 10, 2009 12:24 pm

    Does Mr.Tharoor even realize that the “istri waala” he was talking about doesn’t even get what he is talking about (don’t even get me started on the accent)? He is addressing it to a group who, according to me, has already “developed”, as per the current definition of developed. Don’t you agree we already have become like the people in “states”? McDonald’s, Malls, Branded clothes, that’s what defines us. What’s the point of this speech if it isn’t just to boost our egos (while we watch some Hollywood movie/TV serial and think oh! we have great culture, while wanting to be more like them)..Why don’t they save all this energy and time to address to the “istri waalas”? We can do good all by ourselves.

    now you’ve made me feel a pang! yeah, I agree you have a very good point! – Nita

  32. December 10, 2009 12:25 pm

    “Obama’s magnetism or intelligence?” I beg to differ on this Nita :) Sorry for the drift on the person of interest here :D

    Kiran, in comparison with Shashi Tharoor I think so. – Nita

    • rags permalink
      December 10, 2009 11:48 pm

      I felt the same too. Obama is charming allright but I dunno about intelligence. In anycase requirement of intelligence in any field (especially politics) is overrated. Poltics requires an altogether different skillset.

      • Vijay permalink
        February 13, 2010 11:53 am

        Bring a leader should be more into reaching out to the masses, to motivate them to do better things. Personally, i am motivated by his speech. With his speech he has made it clear to the world that we are coming close to being a super power in the coming years with such a growth rate

  33. Vinod permalink
    December 10, 2009 1:16 pm

    Tharoor’s speech is meant to appease the Indian middle class’ inferiority complex.
    Sorry Nita, cynicism is my second nature.

  34. December 11, 2009 9:01 pm

    One thing that amazes me is the variety of food we get in India even if one is totally vegetarian. I can stay in this country till I die fot that reason alone! :)

    Destination Infinity

  35. Sam permalink
    December 12, 2009 2:52 am

    But at least he doesn’t have to play around with the sensitivities of India’s poor, farmer class for votes. If you look at his speech at a USC conference a few months back, his talk makes more sense when he is more pragmatic about the paradoxes of modern India. But his point in this speech is clear; that the Indian politicians of first four decades had much more to worry about the security of India’s freedom which India received drenched in blood after fighting for almost 300 years. And hence, little was the focus on actual development. And now, the mindset is changing fast. I had read in a column in Hindu, dont remember the date, but the author was a Harvard academician, a comparison of development models of India and China compared from sustainability perspective; and India clearly fared far better than the Chinese model of urban development. I think these modern day politicians are making an impact to the ideology of development and progressive attitude of India’s ruling class. If someday India becomes a developed nation (I hope to see this day in my lifetime), India’s story would be totally different from those of Western Europe and North America where the social architectures are pretty similar while India has its own unique one.

    • Vinod permalink
      December 12, 2009 9:05 pm

      If someday India becomes a developed nation

      I sure pray that India never becomes a “developed” nation, not atleast the way that idea is understood today – in terms of GDP and per capita consumption.

  36. December 14, 2009 12:13 am

    I feel the Tharoor critics are being a bit too unfair to him; him not knowing about India…him expressing the same views over n over (as if its a norm for a politician should turn on his opinions every often)…him being lax when stating critical viewpoints… I don’t understand when people will realize that people like him represents the last hope of bringing about a change to the current Indian political arena.

    I watched his above speech @ TED and it was inspiring; he put his points across in a different way but its not just raw-speech. He is just half an year into his political career and there are too many knee-jerk reactions about anything and everything he does.

  37. December 14, 2009 2:24 pm

    Just came across your blog and have enjoyed reading it. This post prompted some thoughts…

    First, Tharoor should be given a chance to demonstrate how he can contribute. I followed him during his work at the UN and have watched him on many political news shows in the US. He’s a good communicator, something that is in short supply (I think PM Singh is great and I like his quiet demeanor, but his subtle manner can be difficult to grasp if you are not Indian).

    India continues to have many problems, but it should be proud of the achievements to date. Yes….it’s not enough, not nearly with the crushing poverty that still abounds. Unfortunately, development is a multi-decade path and India is still at a very early stage. There will be fits and starts, but it will get there through marginal improvements in governance over time. If you’re cynical about governance improving…I can understand, but from the point of view of an POI who has watched India from the outside…..there have been noticeable if glacial improvements.

    Finally, Tharoor makes an important point, that India’s development path need not follow that of the west (or East Asia). In the face of global warming and energy shortages, that would be ill advised in any case. India could try to find its own unique development trajectory and economic model (in some ways, it is doing so already).

    Sticky Feet:

  38. December 14, 2009 3:12 pm

    Just leaving my email address. I left a previous message while logged into wordpress and there was no box for email.

    cheers
    Bali

    If you comment while logged on to wordpress your email automatically appears as it has in your previous comment. Also your name gets automatically linked to your blog. – Nita

  39. vasudevan permalink
    December 26, 2009 10:59 pm

    tharoor is right of course. from cattle class to poor economy everything he says is true. indians should learn to shed their mighty ego and face the reality.

  40. September 2, 2010 8:05 pm

    When the NSUI anchor invited Shashi Tharoor to speak after mentioning, among other things his academic feat of achieving a PhD degree at 22, the house clapped for a full 18 seconds welcoming him and an overwhelmed Tharoor started his speech with a ‘Thank you’ in his strong, baritone voice: “Positive energy is all here; you are fantastic to be with!”

  41. Jindal permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:25 am

    The trouble with India is bad governance. Period.

    The largest English-speaking democracy in the world has loads of untapped talent. However, India has not been able to shine like other players of the Asian miracle. Engineers run the show in PRC and their numbers speak volumes. In contrast, India’s largely incompetent bureaucracy continues to be a farce for a nation vying for a rightful seat at the table on the world stage. Unless there are drastic improvements, I’d myself suggest that the world not take India seriously unless it can articulate a vision.

    Thanks to the largess of others, there are already ridiculous quotas for Dalits and Muslims. Have any diamonds come out of the grand giveaway in 60+ years? Has there been a study to estimate staggering losses from denial of education and posts to the highly qualified which were instead thrown away at average quota claimants? A huge landmass was generously given away as Pakistan during the partition all in the name of Islam — has Pakistan produced a single world class scientist or a noteworthy invention?

    Instead of eliminating the legacy of the caste system, has the socialist era quota system not reinforced silly fault lines of the 20th century, along with backward divisive politics of vote banks? What is even more interesting is that the Congress Party has been instrumental throughout in promoting caste-based politics, and giving election tickets to dubious “connections”. A lack of vision is so obvious.

    Given that in the 21st century India is finally on the road to economic progress, why not Indian politicians wear proper suits during foreign visits instead of donning uptight stodgy Mao-wear or the trademark cotton pajamas (cleverly used for fooling vote banks too)? No change in mindset or apparel — the body language speaks for itself.

    Regardless of the party that holds the reins, leadership should be based on qualifications only i.e. pure meritocracy, not any other criteria, and definitely not birth certificates!

    History shows that dynamic countries lead, others follow. India can’t afford giveaways anymore. What India needs is to reinvent itself.

  42. December 5, 2010 2:02 pm

    Am on the side of shashi tharoor..he was right

  43. Atul permalink
    May 10, 2011 2:50 pm

    @B.K.Chowla- I have never felt that he has skipped any questions in the Karan Thapar interview, on the Contrary, he gave an answer to all of Karan’s questions and Karan was shooting the same question over and over.

    It is false that Tharoor knows nothing about India. He knows India more than any Indian.. It is the Indian experience he lacks..Once he has tha I believe he would be the best politician in the Country.

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