Dr. Shashi Tharoor, born on 9 March 1956 in London, is currently the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and a member of the Indian Parliament from the Trivandrum constituency in Kerala.
Born to Chandran Tharoor, born Tharoor Chandrasekharan Nair, hailing from the ‘Tharoor Tharavad’ of Chittilanchery, Palakkad, Kerala. His mother, Lily Tharoor, born Sulekha Menon, hails from ‘Mundarath Tharavad’ in Elavanchery, Palakkad, Kerala and has adopted the nickname “Lily” as her formal name. His roots are in Palakkad, Kerala, India. He studied at Montfort School in Yercaud and Campion School in Mumbai, attended high school at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School in Kolkata, Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He later joined Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He then completed a Ph.D. at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, at the age of 22.
He previously, between June 2002 and February 2007, served as the UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, during the term of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations. In 2006, he was the official candidate of India for the office of United Nations Secretary-General, and came second out of seven official candidates in the race. He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist, human-rights advocate and a humanitarian.
He also presently serves on the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, and the Advisory Boards of the Indo-American Arts Council, the American India Foundation, the World Policy Journal, the Virtue Foundation and the human rights organization Breakthrough. He is an International Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva for the period 2008-2011, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities and the Patron of the Dubai Modern School.
On 19 March 2009, Tharoor was declared as the Indian National Congress candidate of the Thiruvananthapuram (Lok Sabha constituency) in Kerala for the General Elections in 2009. Tharoor featured in a five-cornered contest against P. Ramachandran Nair of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Neelalohitadasan Nadar of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), M.P. Gangadharan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and P. K. Krishna Das of Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP).
Tharoor is known for his passionate interest in cricket, especially Indian cricket, about which he has written in such publications as The Cricketer International, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Hindu. A theatre buff and successful actor in his schooldays, he played Antony to Mira Nair’s Cleopatra in a 1974 production of Antony and Cleopatra. At St. Stephen’s in the early 1970s he founded the Quiz Club, which is still in existence; he also revived the Wodehouse Society, which is no longer in existence. Upon election as President of the College Union (campaign slogan: “Shashi Tharoor jeetega zaroor”) he relinquished the Secretaryship of the History Society as well as the editorship of the campus humour magazine “Kooler Talk.” He was invited by St. Stephen’s College to deliver the college’s 125th Anniversary Jubilee Lecture in 2005. He has been an elected Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the Advisory Board of the Indo-American Arts Council. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Breakthrough, an international human rights organization, the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute, and as an International Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He also supported various educational causes, including as Patron of the Modern School in Dubai, UAE. He is a member of the Indian National Congress.
At the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1976, he founded and was the first chair of the editorial board of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal examining issues in international relations .
Tharoor has twin sons from his first marriage, Ishaan and Kanishk. Both attended Yale University. Ishaan writes for Time magazine’s international edition in Hong Kong, while Kanishk is an editor at openDemocracy in London.