Monday, April 10, 2006

Democracy Minus Zero/No Limit

One of the biggest laughs at the just-concluded Kitab festival was for the response of the always-glib Shashi Tharoor to the question “Do you really think democracy can be imported or exported?” (Context: US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

Tharoor, smooth as a baby’s bottom, goes: “I agree that Democracy, like Love, has to come from within. But it’s certainly possible to provide the setting – the soft music, candlelight dinner and so forth – that might help encourage the process.”

Methinks his democracy is a red red rose-thorn.


  1. i was there on the first day, and i'd say quite dissapointed with mr.tharoor and the distasteful humour as an overture to his address, poor Diana and that slick i-have-another-lecture-to-give move earned him a lot of respect from us lesser mortals.
    Amit chaudhuri on the other hand was interesting with his "globalization is a narrative", "the rhetoric of plenty" and "english is edenic" spiel, contradictory but..what isn't? and a slight literary paranoia was apparent with his closeup antakshari metaphor.
    Nadeem came across as a very sensitive unassuming character.

  2. Oh no, please do not condemn Tharoor so. Ive grown up admiring the man( anybody who has ever read any Newsweek shall tell you that he is a brilliant columnist.)

  3. Madhur: I thought Nadeem was really good too - especially during the globalisation discussion where, despite being sandwiched between much more articulate speakers (Tharoor and Rana), he made the most impact, with the "circle" analogy.

    Aaki: not "condemning" Tharoor, just having a little fun. He actually said a few other things that were quite interesting.

  4. Madhur is quite unfair. Shashi Tharoor was very gracious in explaining why he had to leave -- the panel began more than an hour late and he was supposed to be addressing an audience at another venue at 1 (I was there, it was on "Democracy and Development" and it was standing room only). He still stayed to listen to all the other panellists and even answer a question before leaving. Why do we have to bring down our best like this?

  5. Madhur is being quite unfair. Shashi Tharoor graciously explained why he had to leave -- the Kitab panel began more than an hour late, and he was scheduled to address another gathering at a different venue. I was there: it was on "Democracy and Development", and there was standing room only. He still listened to all his fellow panellists and answered a question too before leaving. Why do we have to be so petty about our best and brightest?