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The Shashi Tharoor File

October 2006
The Shashi Tharoor File


6 Age when he began writing.

10 Age when his first story was published.

9 Number of books he has written.

22 Age when he earned his Ph.D.

23 Number of pictures of himself on his website.

28 Number of years he has worked for the U.N.

50 His current age (he was born on March 9, 1956, in London).

302,000 Google hits for "Shashi Tharoor."

500,000 Number of times people have said, "You were 22 when you got your Ph.D? Wow!"


"I don't believe that my commitment to the UN in any way diminishes my faith in India. India matters to me and I would like to matter to India." (BBC)

"I'm entirely an Indian writer, primarily because I'm still an Indian. I haven't made the leap of the imagination that emigration entails. ? I've felt that my Indianness is what stares at me when I look in the mirror." (Khabar)

"If America is a melting-pot, then to me India is a thali, a selection of sumptuous dishes in different bowls. Each tastes different, and does not necessarily mix with the next, but they belong together on the same plate, and they complement each other in making the meal a satisfying repast." (Rediff.com)

"If I had to pick the one thing we must do above all else, I now offer a two-word mantra: ‘educate girls.' It really is that simple. There is no action proven to do more for the human race than the education of the female child." (The Hindu)

"Let us work for a world in which we can fill both stomachs and souls at the same time." (The Hindu)


India nominated him for the UN Secretary General post on June 15, 2006. In a Security Council "straw poll" in July, he finished second to South Korean candidate Ban Ki Moon, with 10 countries indicating they would "encourage" him, compared with 12 for Moon.

He is divorced from the journalist Tilottama Tharoor. His twin sons, Ishaan and Kanishk, are Yale graduates.

He earned his bachelor's degree in history from St. Stephen's College in Delhi in 1975, then completed two master's degrees and a Ph.D at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachussetts (1975-78).

His numerous awards include a Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1991 for The Great Indian Novel (widely considered his best book) and the 1998 Excelsior Award for excellence in literature from the Association of Indians in America (AIA) and the Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP).


While at St. Stephen's College in the early 1970s, Tharoor revived the Wodehouse Society and, in 2002, wrote the definitive piece on India's fascination with the British humorist. "PG Wodehouse is by far the most popular English-language writer in India, his readership exceeding that of Agatha Christie or John Grisham," Tharoor wrote in The Guardian. "His erudite butlers, absent-minded earls and silly-ass aristocrats, out to pinch policemen's helmets on boat race night or perform convoluted acts of petty larceny at the behest of tyrannical aunts, are familiar to, and beloved by, most educated Indians. I cannot think of an Indian family I know that does not have at least one Wodehouse book on its shelves, and most have several. In a country where most people's earning capacity has not kept up with inflation and book-borrowing is part of the culture, libraries stock multiple copies of each Wodehouse title."



His official website, featuring his bio, reviews of his books, and articles by and about him.


An Emory University page about his literary career.


A recent interview about his Secretary General candidacy, available as an mp3.

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