Shashi Tharoor


Former UN under-secretary-general, member of India's parliament for the Congress party and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs

Hypocrisy on Stilts in India

The BJP’s charge against Gandhi is a serious one.

2w ago

Shashi Tharoor on India-Russia relations, the Quad, Ambedkar, and more

Shashi Tharoor, a former UN under-secretary-general and former Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of State for Human Resource Development, and an MP for the Indian National Congress, discusses his most recent book, India’s foreign policy, and India’s majoritarian turn in an interview with Project Syndicate. 

America's missing ambassador to India

Given India’s strategic importance, why has the White House left the ambassador position vacant for two years?

India's looming demographic divide

India’s population is expected to grow over the next four decades to approximately 1.7 billion, before plunging to 1.1 billion by 2100.

The Indian Diaspora Has Arrived

Rishi Sunak’s rise points to a broader, longer-term phenomenon: the growing prominence of the Indian diaspora across the Western world.

Can India’s Oldest Party Reinvent Itself?

For the first time in nearly 25 years, Congress will elect a president who is not a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

India’s long infatuation with Russia must end

Against the backdrop of China-Russia ties growing stronger, India must urgently review its geopolitical options.

Are the BRICS breaking up?

The recent virtual BRICS summit, which brought together the heads of state and government of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, was interesting as much for what did not happen as for what did.

The promise and pitfalls of Indian foreign policy

Two episodes in the first week of June starkly illustrate both the promise of Indian foreign policy and the pitfalls it faces as a result of the country’s increasingly toxic domestic political culture.

India’s Covid Con

India is no stranger to political controversies. At least half a dozen rage in its fractious public life at any time. But perhaps the most unseemly dispute recently has been the one over the country’s Covid-19 mortality figures.

What is India doing in Ukraine?

The Ukraine war has exposed India’s strategic vulnerabilities in a tough neighbourhood as arguably nothing else could, raising fundamental questions about the country’s global position and regional security.

India’s Ukraine Tightrope

Russia’s war in Ukraine has exposed India’s strategic vulnerabilities as few other things could, raising fundamental questions about the country’s position in the world, its regional security, and the wisdom of its long-term relationships.

India’s Chauvinist Crusade

The restrictive, illiberal trend that has come to characterise India over the last five years has a new data point.

The global coal hypocrisy

India has somehow emerged as the villain of last month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), blamed for resisting cuts to coal consumption even as toxic air envelops its capital, New Delhi.

Column by Shashi Tharoor: Modi’s Anti-Muslim Jihad

After India’s recent defeat by Pakistan at the T20 Cricket World Cup tournament, Indian bowler Mohammed Shami faced vicious trolling on social media.

India’s Taliban Problem

In the weeks since the Taliban’s theocratic terrorists returned to power in Kabul, the people of Afghanistan, particularly its women and girls, have been subjected to unimaginable suffering as the world’s attention turns to other issues. But many other countries, and especially India, have reason to worry.

The Olympic-size difference between India and China

The Tokyo Olympic Games are over, and the Japanese people and government have heaved a sigh of relief that the spectacle passed without a major Covid-19 outbreak in the athletes’ village or other disasters.

Among India’s Believers

It is rare for a public-opinion survey to shake established perceptions of a country in the way a recent Pew Research Center study of religion in India has done. The revelations in Pew’s comprehensive survey, based on interviews with 30,000 adults in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020, have astonished many.

Pakistan’s Taliban Monster

The late head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, was fond of boasting that when Afghanistan’s history came to be written,

Modi’s war on the press

A flurry of assaults on freedom of the press in recent months has raised troubling questions about the state of India’s democracy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India’s Smart Vaccine Diplomacy

As countries scramble to secure Covid-19 vaccines, ugly expressions like “vaccine race” and “vaccine nationalism” have entered the global lexicon.

After Myanmar’s coup

Until recently, the last time Myanmar’s military supervised a general election whose outcome it didn’t like was back in 1990.

Narendra Modi’s Potemkin Democracy

Indian legislators woke up in the new year to two realisations. First, the annual winter session of parliament, from which they should just have been emerging, had not taken place at all. And, second, New Delhi’s magnificent parliament complex, a tourist attraction since it was built in 1927, had been turned into a construction site.

India’s Silenced Parliament

After a nearly six-month hiatus, the Indian parliament will reconvene in mid-September at a time of deepening national crisis. But I fear that it may be unable to hold the country’s failing government to account.

Whose India?

As India prepares to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of its independence on August 15, a growing number of Indians are coming to believe that the battle to preserve the essence of the country born in 1947 is already lost. Many commentators have concluded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has already, in effect, inaugurated a “second republic” by upending the key assumptions of the first.

India’s China strategy is changing

After last month’s clash in the Ladakh region’s Galwan Valley killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops, the two countries are settling in for a prolonged standoff on their disputed Himalayan frontier, even amid reports of a disengagement at the site of their recent clash.

The Kerala Model

As India’s 1.3 billion people struggle to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the country’s 28 states stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Remembering the Forgotten Gandhi

March 12 marked the 90th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in India’s nationalist struggle: the start of the Dandi March,

Pariah India

After India launched far-reaching economic reforms in 1991, its stature in the world rose steadily.

What Happened to India?

It’s a question I hear increasingly these days. International news media report on repression in Kashmir, mounting Hindu chauvinism, widespread protests against new laws, assaults on women, and more.

Narendra Modi’s second partition of India

At a time when India’s major national priority ought to be cratering economic growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has instead plunged the country into a new political crisis of its own making.

New Hope for Indian Unity

After eight years of deliberations, India’s Supreme Court has issued a verdict that settles one of the most protracted inter-religious conflicts in the country’s turbulent history. The Court’s decision couldn’t have come at a better time.

India’s Modi Slowdown

Until recently, Indians had gotten used to taking economic growth for granted. After a decade of annual growth averaging over 9 percent, India’s economy weathered the post-2008 worldwide recession and grew at a still impressive rate of 7 percent until 2014-15. Nothing, it seemed, could stop the gravy train from rolling on.

Inclusivity under threat

Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, it has been keeping a tight lid on the pressure cooker, to borrow your metaphor. What are the most immediate risks you foresee?

India’s Democratic Dictatorship

Amid much fanfare, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has completed a hundred days of its second term. Despite his government’s poor record, Modi remains immensely popular personally. This does not bode well for Indian democracy.

Narendra Modi’s new-model India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to practise what American generals call “shock and awe.” The last time Modi stunned the country—and was initially applauded for his decisiveness and bold vision—was when he announced, on a few hours’ notice, the demonetisation of 96 percent (in value) of India’s currency. The Indian economy is still dealing with the consequences.

A test match with the Taliban

At the recent World Cup cricket tournament in England, a plucky Afghan team composed mainly of former refugees gave a surprisingly good account of themselves,

India’s Cult of Modi

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the helm of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after articulating a vision of a revived India, a manufacturing giant with high-tech capabilities which could meet the rising aspirations of a growing young population. Modi promised voters that his administration would be an era of “achhe din” (good times), marked by “minimum government, maximum governance,” inclusive development (“sab ka saath sab ka vikas”), high employment, and rising economic growth and prosperity. Voters believed him in droves.

India’s new social media politics

With India’s general election a few weeks away from its conclusion, a crucial question needs to be revisited: what role have social media played in them?

A Battle for India's Soul

As India gears up for its general election, one must not lose sight of the sheer size of the exercise, which has been described as the “biggest humanly managed event in the world.”

India's China Problem in Pakistan

One can only hope that the latest tensions between India and Pakistan, which erupted after a terrorist attack last month killed over 40

India's vote-buying budget

One sign that an Indian general election is imminent, and that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is readying its campaign pitch, is the government's final pre-election budget.

Indian farmers in revolt

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide victory in the 2014 general election, he promised to be all things to all voters, eloquently promising “achhe din” (good days) for India. One of his target audiences was farmers; the agriculture sector still accounts for 67 percent of employment, and he grandly promised farmers that his government would double their incomes by 2020. He swept their votes.

India's Deadly Air

A friend of mine, a diplomat returning home after less than three years' service in India, was asked at his exit medical examination how many packs a day he smoked.

India's dangerous Pakistan policy

Judging by the unsavoury exchanges between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers at the recent United Nations General Assembly, the already deeply troubled bilateral relationship has reached a new low.

India should accept disaster assistance

India's southern state of Kerala has been hit by the worst floods in nearly a century. Now that the floodwaters are receding, a peculiar debate has emerged over whether India should accept foreign aid to support reconstruction.

Is ethnic cleansing coming to India?

Seventy-one years after the partition of India, and 47 years after the former East Pakistan became Bangladesh,

India's social-media lynch mobs

Social-media platforms are often criticised for their susceptibility to toxic dialogue and vicious attacks. It is a problem that India knows well. Just ask External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose recent vilification by members and supporters of her own ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a case in point.

July 17, 2017
July 17, 2017

India's botched tax reform

On July 1, an eerie silence descended over many of India's teeming marketplaces. At midnight, a new national goods and services tax (GST)...

June 13, 2017
June 13, 2017

Trump's climate scapegoat

By accusing India of demanding “billions and billions and billions of dollars” as a condition for its participation in the Paris climate

May 20, 2017
May 20, 2017

The last bastion of a profitable press

Printed newspapers offer the added advantage of reliability, in a country [India] where internet access cannot be guaranteed all the time, owing to still-patchy electricity supplies, which cause frequent blackouts even in the capital.

April 12, 2017
April 12, 2017

The Dalai Lama factor in Sino-Indian relations

Relations between India and China haven't been particularly warm in recent months.

March 16, 2017
March 16, 2017

Why India should scrap parliamentary democracy

India's parliamentary system, inherited from the British, is rife with ineffiencies. By the logic of Westminster, you elect a legislature to form the executive, and when the executive does not command a secure majority in the legislative assembly, the government falls, triggering fresh elections.

February 23, 2017
February 23, 2017

The price of empire

Indians tend not to dwell on the country's colonial past. Whether through national strength or civilisational weakness, India has long refused to hold any grudge against Britain for 200 years of imperial enslavement, plunder, and exploitation. But Indians' equanimity about the past does not annul what was done.

December 8, 2016
December 8, 2016

India's demonetisation disaster

On November 8, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that, at the stroke of midnight, some 14 trillion rupees worth of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes – 86 percent of all the currency in circulation – would no longer be legal tender. With that, India's economy was plunged into chaos.

November 13, 2016
November 13, 2016

The End of US Soft Power?

One major casualty of Donald Trump's victory in the bruising US presidential election is, without a doubt, America's soft power around the world. It is a development that will be difficult – perhaps even impossible – to reverse, especially for Trump.

September 16, 2016
September 16, 2016

India's prohibition hypocrisy

Last month, 18 people in the Gopalganj district of India's Bihar state died after consuming illicit alcohol, highlighting – once again – the peculiar relationship between morality and tragedy in India.

August 10, 2016
August 10, 2016

India's cow vigilantes

Indian politics continues to amaze and appal. The surge in cow vigilantism — a uniquely Indian phenomenon that has lately begun to flourish under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government — is no exception.