Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shashi Tharoor - a real hope(sans the Malayalam!)

I saw him for the first time on NDTV Profit today, joining a youth program.The agenda of the program was to find out what the youth of India care about in Indian politics - what bothers them most, do they care about political ideologies, how does a terror attack impact them, what does recession mean to them etc.

Pretty intriguing choice of panel too - an ex banker turned writer, an RJ, a VJ, a student from a famous Mumbai college and a student from one of the famous Mumbai families. AND, in all this, Shashi Tharoor, joining in remotely via satellite.

While the debate was animated and the young panel was pretty cut & dry in stating their expectations. But Shashi Tharoor held his own in all this - he understood outsourcing and its current backlash, showed enough knowledge about the interiors of India being plagued by unemployment etc. All this was a bit of a surprise to me, as I did not expect this up-market diplomatic veteran to be so well-versed with intricacies in India.

The punchline for me was from Shashi himself. He said, "People claim that I do not know Malayalam and have problems in connecting with my people in Thiruvananthapuram. But, I only have to say that I know enough Malayalam to understand your problems and even more, I know the right English and Hindi that will work for you in the Lok Sabha".

I just hope these are not mere words by a man who has generally been perceived as India's greatest diplomatic success - after all, reaching the position of the under-secretary of the UNO is no joke!

We need more such people. And to see the ABN Amro India Country Manager, the former CEO of Deccan Airways and this former UN diplomat, might just be the right triggers the Indian political system needs. My logic is that when veteran political foxes in India talk about banning English or banning computers etc, hopefully, this new breed of progress-oriented candidates, can keep the old foxes in check.