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3.45 pm, July 17 Jul 17, 2012

On his book 'Pax Indica'

Chat with author & MP Shashi Tharoor on his book 'Pax Indica' at 3.45pm this tuesday.
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61 questions answered | 23 questions pending
  • What's the book all about? And when will your next fiction title be out? Asked by: Yashika Totlani
  • Shashi Tharoor Already answered! As to fiction, I hope my next book will mark a return to fiction. Meanwhile, I've spent an hour online with all of you, so many thanks, I'm signing out now!
  • What is the book about. ? Asked by: sundar1950in
  • Shashi Tharoor already answered an hour ago!
  • Dr Tharror, Does your book cover the otherside of India 1) Naxalism spread over 25% of Area 2) Raising inequality 3) Malnutrition among children 4) Agrarian crises Asked by: MURALI KRISHNA HARI
  • Shashi Tharoor No, it's a book on our external relations
  • Pax Indica is priced at 799 (some sites offer discounted rate of 599). I am a college student and cannot afford buying it. Can an e-copy of the same be made available for a lesser price? Say, Rs.100/-? Asked by: Arun Sudarsan
  • Shashi Tharoor An e-book will be out 1 August. I have no idea what the price will be: please check the Penguin site
  • what do you think or decision of BCCI. to play cricket between India & Pak and opposition from other people Asked by: Kamal
  • Shashi Tharoor as a cricket fan, I'm in favour!
  • Sir, My favourite story is 'Friends'...and yeah, the one featuring Bobby Chaterjee as well....I want to know how long it took you to write each one of these stories..?? Asked by: Rovansh
  • Shashi Tharoor It was all too long ago to remember! But in general I write faster than anyone who writes better, and better than anyone who writes faster....
  • Hello Sir, you did your ph.d on India's foreign policy at Fletchers. How much of that research and your days at Fletchers have helped conceive this book? As a student, I want to ask you how has the coursework for your degree at Fletchers been useful in writing the book? Asked by: Umang
  • Shashi Tharoor Not specifically my coursework, but my doctoral thesis was on Indian foreign policy-making in Mrs Indira Gandhi's first government (1966-77), and that certainly was a most useful background to this book. It was published under the title "Reasons of State" in 1981.
  • Sir - how do you manage your time so brilliantly? straddling so many roles and lives with effortless ease? with regards, Kaviraj Nair Asked by: Kaviraj Nair
  • Shashi Tharoor You just do everything you can in the time available -- I have no set formula!
  • What's your favorite type of cuisine? Asked by: Neha Ratti
  • Shashi Tharoor Indian and Italian -- idlis and pizzas!
  • Do you think Rahul Gandhi should play a bigger role in Congress right now? Asked by: Nicholas
  • Shashi Tharoor he's already playing a big role in the Congress. Like many, I'd like him to play a bigger role in the Government now.
  • do U support Lokpal? Asked by: Ajith
  • Shashi Tharoor yes,please see my speech in parliament (Lok Sabha) last december on www.tharoor.in
  • Are you planning to write any books in Malayalam? - a foray into malayalam literature? :) Asked by: Kaviraj Nair
  • Shashi Tharoor Alas, I can't... I'm kerala's sole surviving illiterate.
  • Hello Sir...As a person who would like to write, how should I begin writing?? Any books that should be read speciifically for knowing about various elements of writing, say short stories...Also, have you read 'Harry Potter' series..?? Do you like the books?? Asked by: Rajnalini Singh
  • Shashi Tharoor Read what you enjoy reading, write as it comes to you...
  • Sir, congress has many talented and capable youngsters and we really wish to ruled by them rather than age old stalwarts. would you be joining the govt in next reshuffle Asked by: Keshava Prasad
  • Shashi Tharoor The answer is not in my hands! I believe we will see an infusion of fresh blood in September.
  • Sir, had you been in the South Block,would the same book had come out..;-)...i mean the openness or would you have been more cautious...:-) I know you are great with words but please do not be diplomatic here...:-) Asked by: Man Mohan Singh(Nainital)
  • Shashi Tharoor I would not have been free to write at all if I were in government! But these are my views, in or out of Govt.
  • What in your opinion is possible solution to kashmir dispute? Asked by: Arjan Singh
  • Shashi Tharoor settle along the present line of actual control, democratize on both sides and liberalize contact and interaction -- but only once the other side stops sending terrorists across the border
  • Sir, I think "FDI" should be there in our economic structure. what's your view about it? Asked by: Som Verma
  • Shashi Tharoor I'm in favour (see earlier answer)
  • Sir, I just loved your book 'The Five Dollar Smile'. I wondered after reading it whether you took some sort of focussed training on the elements of story telling etc...your stories talk about hypocrisy(the temple thief), love(unrequited), friendship etc...so how did you write those 14 'early' short stories..?? I want to write these types of stories...my favourite was 'How Bobby Chatterjee came to drink'. awaiting your reply.. Asked by: Paula D'souza
  • Shashi Tharoor no training at all (as i've explained in "Bookless in Baghdad"). As i said in an earlier answer, the best training for a writer is to read a lot and write a lot!
  • Why should we read this book and how will it help todays youth! and the weakening Indian economy Asked by: Neelam Niroula
  • Shashi Tharoor i've answered this already earlier. Specifically our young people will grow up into a more globalized world in which they will be interacting with, and affected by, people and events beyond our borders. Foreign policy isn't just foreign -- it affects us in India. Today's youth need the lessons of this book more than their parents did
  • if given a chance, which position in the indian government/beauroceacy would you like to take? big fan here from palakkad! Asked by: Deepak
  • Shashi Tharoor I'll be glad to serve in whatever capacity the Government wishes to use me -- right now as a hard-working MP!
  • Sir Will Indian politicians ever work for Common citizens with out asking for there commission to work for common citizens or with out looting the tax payers money...Will ever Income tax dept raid all the politicians house who have become crore and mutlimillionairs after coming to politics common struggles for one days meal.....Instead of writing a book dont you think it would have been better doing something good for country.......HOPE MY QUESTION IS POSTED..... Asked by: Pradeep
  • Shashi Tharoor I know many politicians,myself included, who have never done and would never do any of those things. And yes, I consider my book a vital contribution to the national discourse, in ADDITION to he many things I do as an MP for the development of my constituency and my country.
  • SIr I would like to know about decision of Indian government about foreign direct investment? Asked by: Som Verma
  • Shashi Tharoor No decision yet
  • As an M.P DO You think there is a deficiency of Bipartisan resolutions in our parliament? Many a times important policies wr kept on hold because of this deficiency.Putting party ego above nation Asked by: sree,kerala
  • Shashi Tharoor agree totally. Our Opposition is rarely constructive - they think their duty is to oppose everything, even good policies that they would have advocated had they been in government!
  • You were external affairs minister for a brief while what steps you were taking to reform the services and do you feel the present system is a dampener for young and talented blood to join foreign services Asked by: Shailesh
  • Shashi Tharoor I had limited authority as an MoS but did what I could. I am freer to advocate change from the outside!
  • ndia -- Pak cricket , is this help both nation to develop diplomatic relation . Asked by: Arindam Pandit
  • Shashi Tharoor No, cricket reflects an improved relationship, it does not cause it.
  • For someone aspiring to join the United Nations, you are an absolute role model. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the UN?? Asked by: Reema Venkat
  • Shashi Tharoor There's no simple formula... it would depend on the vacancies available and your own experience and education. Nationality is also a factor and regular career appointments in the UN are simply not available to Indians because we are deemed over-represented in the system.
  • Do you think foreign policy expertise lacks in our political class? your book makes a smooth read, with your understanding of IFP, is there any way that we can make IFP a simpler read and subject for all? i.e at the highest level of education, and not just informal books. Asked by: Ruchi
  • Shashi Tharoor Would help if my book were read more widely!
  • What would be your message to young and aspiring authors? Asked by: Christopher Johnson.
  • Shashi Tharoor already answered earlier
  • Hello Sir....,, Whats Your take on US president Barak obama's Critisim??? nd, How should India Look at It...,, Asked by: Sarkar Sudipta
  • Shashi Tharoor I think he's entitled to express his views, just as we express ours on American policies (outsourcing, H1B visas, etc).
  • What is your view about our diplomatic relation with major economies in African Continent ? Are we missing a chunk of opportunities in garnerning support from african countries in UN & other world bodies? Asked by: RAKESH RATHOD
  • Shashi Tharoor I have a whole chapter on this in Pax Indica. Africa is very important to us economically and should be a serious priority.
  • Sir, do you think that the recent Russian president visit to Pakistan and opening up to them is a response to India getting close to the US? Don't you think its time to reasses our alliance like ties with the US since 2000s and focus on Indo-Russian and Indo-Chinese ties to isolate Pakistan instead of depending on the US to do so which has always been fickle in this region from the so called "Jihad" in Afghanistan and illegal wars in Iraq affecting India's energy security? Asked by: Lubna
  • Shashi Tharoor That's a smart question that requires a complex answer I don't have time for with so many questions in the queue! In brief we need both the US and Russia in different ways on this issue and would be unwise to write either off...
  • Communists demanding for proportional representation in elected bodies. I do see a good logic in that after seeing the seats vs % votes difference to form the govt. What is your take on this? Asked by: Vara Prasad
  • Shashi Tharoor I'm in a favour of a more fundamental overhaul -- the Presidential system. But within the parliamentary system, proportional representation would risk creating an even more fractured polity of small parties than we currently have!
  • Do you feel that it is difficult to rate performance of ambassdors, diplomats, high commissioners as compared to corporates where profit is the sole criteria for success which makes difficult to differentiate between good and bad foreign policy experts Asked by: Manush
  • Shashi Tharoor There are tried and tested ways of evaluating diplomats in many other countries which we could learn from. Our over-emphasis on seniority must cease.
  • Sir, do you support FDI in retail? may be with positive sanctions? Asked by: Arjan Singh
  • Shashi Tharoor Yes. Numerous studies in countries like China and Malaysia have confirmed it's a win-win, benefiting both farmers and consumers and doing much less damage to the middlemen than is currently feared.
  • Do you still feel political arena is right institution to bring positive change in Indian society, after the price you have paid for it? If yes what's other effective institutions are in you view? Asked by: Arjan Singh
  • Shashi Tharoor Yes, in a democracy politics is the most effective way to change the lives of millions of people. Obviously doing any profession well will have an impact too -- especially the media and civil society.
  • Any messages to congress goverment form this book ??????? Asked by: Bhargav Vegad
  • Shashi Tharoor several -- on such subjects as our visa policies, the under-resourcing of our diplomacy, and the need for more strategic discussions with the Arab world, to give a few examples
  • Sir, are you addressing any of the short comings in our foreign policies in this book? Asked by: Naveen
  • Shashi Tharoor yes, in some detail, though my accent is on the positive opportunities we have.
  • WHAT YOU THINK IS THE MAJOR HINDRANCE BEFORE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN CREATING A CLEAR POLICY ON REFUGEES ??? Asked by: VISHNU NARENDRAN
  • Shashi Tharoor Our own tough neighbourhood which is a source of a large number of migrants who, it is feared, could abuse a generous refugee law. In practice, however, we maintain a pretty generous refugee policy. Please see my World Refugee Day speech on the UNHCR India website.
  • Sir do you think you and many others have paid the price to be upright for a right cause in Indian politics? Asked by: Arjan Singh
  • Shashi Tharoor I've stood upright all my life and won't change now. If that means a price has to be paid, so be it.
  • You have held high office been at the UN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, How do you feel being an author? Asked by: Christopher Johnson.
  • Shashi Tharoor I've been an author since I was 6! it's fundamental to who i am. As George Bernard Shaw put it, I write for the same reason a cow gives milk...
  • Pax Indica ---- let us share the meaning of cover page Asked by: Arindam Pandit
  • Shashi Tharoor already answered
  • Do you think we need a better system to hire IFS officers? There is a lot of talk regarding how the current system of selection is outdated and biased. Asked by: Sweta
  • Shashi Tharoor yes, I'd like to see a separate exam for the diplomatic service so we don't just settle for people who would rather have been administrators, cops or customs officers but didn't do well enough in the exams! We should test different aptitudes for international service, including a talent for languages and an outgoing personality, weigh them differently than the regular exams do, and train people for the specific skills required in diplomacy before confirming them.
  • Sir I hope to read the book soon. My question - Is a rigid system of education like the one that exists in India one of the reasons for the paucity of quality IFS officers. If not, what else can be done to raise the bar here? Asked by: Ankit Grover
  • Shashi Tharoor No, it's the same education system for every profession! Young people just have a lot more options these days than when the IFS was the best job available in the country. Many are flocking to the private sector, and of those who wish to try government service, the domestic services like the IAS and the IPS seem to appeal more these days.
  • Do you miss working for the United Nations? What would you say is more gratifying? Your current job or the one you held with the UN? Asked by: Shrikala
  • Shashi Tharoor I try not to miss anything I have left behind. Nothing can be as gratifying as making a difference in the lives of people, and both my UN work and politics aims to accomplish exactly that. I'm delighted to enjoy the confidence of the voters of my constituency and very happy to be playing a role in my own country.
  • Have you ever considered working on an autobiography? Asked by: Shoeb
  • Shashi Tharoor Not yet! I would like to have accomplished a little more in life before I feel ready to start look back rather than forward.
  • Hi Sir...I am a huge admirer of yours..I have read 'Bookless in Baghdad' and 'The Five- Dollar Smile', and I was just entranced by your ingenious word-play in the stories you wrote in your teens. As a 19 year old who wants to be a writer someday, what would your advice be?? Also, I was really inspired by the opening essay in 'Bookless in Baghdad', titled 'Growing up with books in India'. Asked by: Reena
  • Shashi Tharoor Thanks! For any would-be writer, the best prescription is: read a lot and write a lot! It's the only way to learn the craft -- by reading and seeing how others have done it, and by trying it yourself the hard way....
  • As a democracy we are an inspiration to many nations.Many admire our Secularism,Press freedom,freedom of expression and many more.How will it be reflecting to these admirer's when we ban a book or artwork and now taking a move to censor internet? Asked by: sree,kerala
  • Shashi Tharoor I agree that bans and censorship are wrong in a democracy and should be resorted to very rarely, and only when there is a grave threat to public order if this is not done
  • Why is there too much stress in India's bureaucracy of civil servants rathers than those of experts and is that the reason for India's lagging behind in getting policy decisions as compared to China and other countries Asked by: Hitesh
  • Shashi Tharoor I've just replied to a question on our lack of specialist expertise. We do quite well in relation to China and other countries, but I do believe we can do better.
  • You have written quite a few books on India's current situation do you feel that India's current situation is hyped and glamourised because of its huge market that other countries want to exploit Asked by: Rij
  • Shashi Tharoor Not at all. We need their attention, their interest and their investment. That's how we'll grow!
  • With India growing in stature Globally, don't you think there is a need to have more number of career diplomats in service? Asked by: sridhar
  • Shashi Tharoor I am a great fan of India’s diplomats, who are by and large outstanding. But I would describe as simply silly, for want of a stronger word, the fact that we have a notoriously overstaffed government except for foreign affairs, so that India’s diplomatic corps, at just above 800, is less than a quarter the size of the Chinese (4200) and more in keeping with a country the size of Singapore, which deploys 867. I find this level of shortsightedness deplorable. I advocate immediate and urgent increases to fill the gaps we currently have, rather than the incremental increase in the annual intake of new recruits that we are currently pursuing. If we need more Spanish speakers, climate-change experts, trade negotiators or Balochistan specialists, we should go out and find them in the outside world and bring them in as mid-career appointees to the Foreign Service. The time for a change is now.
  • In one of interviews, you stated that writing is quite tedious for you and it takes up most o your time. Was it equally strenuous to come out with this book? Asked by: Shrikala
  • Shashi Tharoor No, I've never found writing tedious.If I did, why would I do it? I love to write but it's a challenge finding the time for it.
  • Its a well known fact that India needs more entrepreneurs. Would the 'jugaad' mentality help make for successful start-ups? Asked by: Pooja
  • Shashi Tharoor yes. I've done a column on this entitled "India's frugal Dynamism" which has been syndicated in many papers around the world in the last few days. Please google
  • Sir, it is a pleasure having you on the IBN Web-Chat..i have always loved your speeches in the Parliament...among your contemporaries which Indian writers work do you like? Thank You Asked by: Man Mohan Singh(Nainital)
  • Shashi Tharoor most of them! I think there's great writing being done in India
  • Pax Indica? why this interesting title? Asked by: Navneet
  • Shashi Tharoor see reply to Rodrigue
  • ARE YOU IN POSITION TO ACCEPT THAT 'PAX INDICA' WILL CHANGE THE PRESENT THINKING LINES OF NATION TO BE MORE PROACTIVE RATHER THAN REACTIVE IN TERM OF FOREIGN POLICY. Asked by: balbir_lko@yahoo.co.in
  • Shashi Tharoor all foreign policy has to be both pro-active and reactive. You8 have to take your own initiatives (pro-active) but also respond to unfolding events abroad over which you have no control (reactive).
  • Sir, is it not time that India starts developing an idea of a SAARC security community and joine defence force. Pakistan for obvious reasons may need to be left out at present and possibly Afghanistan as well. But a join SAARC defence force could then move towards countering piracy in Indian waters and also act as peace keeping forces in troubled spots like Nepal or Myanmar if need be. The idea could be similar to the African Union defence forces and be the beginning of an Indian NATO Asked by: Ahmed
  • Shashi Tharoor SAARC does not have a security component and there would be serious difficulties in creating a joint defence force -- (1) politically, because countries would have different perspectives on the need for one (2) the military cultures of the forces of each country vary enormously (3)if these forces were used within a SAARC nation, as you suggest, there could be serious implications for national sovereignty. I think this is a non-starter.
  • Mr Tharoor why still India can't make a bold decision when it comes to International affairs? from Iran - Syria -Srianka Asked by: sree,kerala
  • Shashi Tharoor I think our positions have been clear and defensible. They don't have to be "bold"
  • Do you feel that India has shied away from taking a stand when it came to important global matters eg:Myanmar (Military junta),Sri Lanka ( LTTE) or Iran ( Nuclear program)to cite a few Asked by: Anoop Chathoth
  • Shashi Tharoor i think we've taken clear stands on all those issues!
  • Why Pax Indica? Why have you choosen such a greek sounding title for your book? Asked by: Ranjeet
  • Shashi Tharoor Latin, not Greek! Already answered just now (see Rodrigue), But about why i wrote the book -- because foreign affairs has been a lifelong interest of mine and I felt there hadn’t been a substantive book on India’s relations with the world, which in any case warranted a re-examination, given that we have embarked on a very new era in the 21st century. There has been a significant change since the early 1990s in the overall directions of our foreign policy, but there has been no real stocktaking done in recent years, so I thought the time had come for one and that I would like to be the one doing it. So that is why I chose to write this particular book.
  • Sir, I was intrugued by the title of your book. After racking my brains, I could figure some connection with the phrase 'Pax Britannica' for two reasons.. A) having read your books, I think you are critical of Winston Churchill, and you have quoted his utterings many a times(''India is no more a country than equator..a mere geographical expression'')by saying- ''Winston Churchill once barked...''. And you had done the same with the title in the great indian novel...having punned on the long-standing concept of the great american novel..and it's hindi equivalent of mahabharata.. B) Known for his quips, Churchill, once when told about the prevalence of venereal diseases in a region, is said to have replied-''POX BRITANNICA''.. So, do you think I got the connection right...or is there some other story behind the title of the book..?? Asked by: Rodrigue
  • Shashi Tharoor [also to Navneet and others]: Why the title? Frankly, to catch the attention of potential readers. I didn’t want a title that would make it sound like a text book because my idea wasn’t to write a book for scholars or students alone, though I hope scholars and students will find some ideas and insights that are interesting to them. My basic idea was to write something that would animate intelligent living room conversations. Of course, by “Pax Indica” I don’t mean world domination like “Pax Romana” or “Pax Brittanica”, but rather of a co-operative networked system in a multi-polar world.
  • Sir how much time u use to complete this great creation ? Asked by: hari parambil
  • Shashi Tharoor Two years

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Shashi Tharoor
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On his book 'Pax Indica'