Insightful Tweets of Shashi Tharoor in Twitter
I have written a lot about Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs and MP from my home town after he was nominated by the Indian National Congress to contest the Trivandrum Lok Sabha seat. I have decided not to write anything more on him for the time being after he got elected from Trivandrum.I have already broken that self imposed restriction when I posted this video of his interview in the program "The Beautiful People". I am going to break that promise again today with a post on Dr Shashi Tharoor's tweets on Twitter. This post is for people like my parents who are never going to go use Twitter but still like to read some of the nice tweets Dr Tharoor had written.
Dr Shashi Tharoor holds the following records when it come to twittering. He is the first Indian to have more than 10,000 followers. He is the only minister in the Union Cabinet who tweets almost daily. Tharoor is the only Indian politician who has a verified account with Twitter.
What is so special about his tweets? It gives us an insight of the day to day life of a typical Indian parliamentarian - their problems, their constraints, their achievements, their work load to name few. Here is a collection of few of his tweets starting from the day of counting (May 16th) to July 2nd.
On the day of counting (May 16th, 2009)
Looking good! My lead has crossed 30,000 with half the votes counted.
A lead of over 59000 now! It's almost a done deal
I have won with a majority greater than any Congress candidate in Tvm in 30 years... Truly humbling. Now the real work begins
Still sinking in - a majority of over 100,000 votes!
On a victory tour of my constituency - amazing scenes of exhilaration - already hoarse from thank-you speeches!
The very next day after Tharoor became MP (May 17th, 2009)
First fullday as MPelect. Began with an intervention on 4 Tvm fishermen rescued by SriLankan navy and taken to SL who need to be repatraited
And ended (not quite) with a visit to hospital to condole victims of police firing in a riot. Meetings still ahead with assorted groups....
Re my 2 previous, if ever there is a 7day-a-week job, it is that of a politician. In between I met+spoke w 100 people - & its Sunday!
Finally ended the day with a 3 hour meeting on development issues of Tvm with a wide range of experts. Now to get it all done!
On my way to Beemapalli where 4 young people died yesterday in police firing
On the way to Delhi as MP elect (May 18th, 2009)
Heading to Delhi - beginning of a new journey!
Flight delayed so tried to start replying to congratulatory emails - did about 200, another 2129 to go. Apologies to those awaiting ack
Two TV interviews scuttled by 2 hour delay in Kingfisher flight - but one might be salvaged by an OB van coming to the airport!
In Delhi for the first time as MP elect (May 19th, 2009)
In Delhi at last - trying to get into Parliament to get my ID!
First day in Parliament. From the sublime (the historic Central Hall for the Cong legislators meeting) to the bureacratic (8 forms to fill)!
Parlmt is impressive, monumental. Deeply moving to be in this splendid bldg and to have earned the right to be here the hard way
The media scrum is amazing. Have given 13 interviews in 3 languages and 2 more TV shows pending
Kerala MP delegation called on Cong Pres Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh. Much justified self-congratulation abt 13 Kerala Cong MP wins!
On the day Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated (May 21st, 2009)
Up at 5 am to attend a stirring memorial ceremony on Rajiv Gandhi's death anniversary. Spare, simple, gracious and profoundly moviing.
Another day of TV interviews (in 3 langs!), a couple of friendly chats with senior political friends, and the highlight: (next tweet)
Great, lively discussion w abt 30 Delhi bloggers and twitterati, most encouragingly young (incl one I'd last seen when she was 4 years old!)
On swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister and first phase of Cabinet Ministers (May 22nd, 2009)
PM's initial cabinet appointees being sworn in today... The task of good governance is huge.
Getting used to the job of a MP (May 23rd, 2009)
Incessant stream of political visitors this morning, all wellmeaning, kind & supportive. But politics isnt easy for those who value privacy!
First Sunday in Delhi as MP (May 24th, 2009)
Sunday! actually managed time for a haircut. several intrvws all day, including "On the couch with Koel" for next Sat (on a real red couch!)
Issues of his constituency (May 26th, 2009)
busy couple of days on Tvm issues. Fishermen lost at sea, air-sea rescue issues. Flooding. The Beemapalli Urs starting peacefully after riot
On the day Tharoor got a call from Prime Minister to join his cabinet (May 27th, 2009)
Overwhelmed today. 1st by call fm PM and Mrs Gandhi inviting me to join the Council of Ministers tomorrow, and then by the flood of congrats
Off to Rashtrapati Bhavan for swearing in. What an awe-inspiring moment, and a deeply humbling one
First full day as MoS for External Affairs (May 28th, 2009)
End of a long day. Humbled by the responsibility of taking office as Minister of State for External Affairs.
But buoyed by the support and encouragement received from Indians of all stripes; determined to do my best at this challenging time.
First day in office as MoS (May 29th, 2009)
Took charge in South Block this morning. Strange feeling since I've always been a visitor there, and quite frequently too!
Started off by disappointing the media who were present in large numbers. Said I wouldn't spk on issues of substance before being briefed.
Second Day in office (May 30th, 2009)
Second morning in office, finally got office computer to work...
Another day gone in a blur of phone calls! And I still have a hundred to return, several hundred from nbrs I don't recognize, + 2 dozn msgs
The toughest part of political life is to get work done while managing to be accessible to evry voter who wants to meet/spk. How do u do it?
Day Dr Tharoor was sworn in as a MP (June 1st, 2009)
Sunday evening spent 3 hours at Kerala House, doors open to visitors, wellwishers, favour-seekers, petitioners. Must make a habit of it!
Reminder that the MoS is also an MP: live call-in programme on Manorama TV last night on the problems of Tvm and what I can do abt them.
Took my oath as an MP today - 1st time in the Lok Sabha as a Member. Wonderful. And generously warm greetings from Opposition leaders after
First meeting with MEA Minister SM Krishna, an eminent figure in Indian politics. I will be handling mainly Africa & Arab world
First dinner by EAM for diplomatic corps. back on a beat i thought i'd left when i quit the UN.But better food here! spoke French after yrs.
actually not true - spoke French after months, not years. But didn't have enough characters left for the word "months"!
A typical day as Minister (June 2nd, 2009)
Quite a day: representation from National Students Union of India on Australia, Pak release of LeT chief, lots of visiting Ambassadors, tbc
Also (as Tvm MP): Good and constructive mtg with Law Minister on Kerala High Court, visits from expat Keralites, reception by Delhi Mal Assn
And still one more dinner to go, with a section of the diplomatic corps at the splendidly renovated Hyderabad House. A real showcase bldg
On the day Meera Kumar was elected the first women Speaker (June 3rd, 2009)
Wed hectic. Election of 1st woman Speaker of Parl, the gracious and elegant Meira Kumar. Also PM introduced his Council of Mins to the House
always focusing on constituency politics too: several visitors, + reception at Kerala House, where Malayalis gather for tea and empathy
joined briefing of first-time Congress MPs. Thorough education from veteran FinMin Pranab Mukherjee on constnl history + parl procedures
key message from veteran pol leaders to all (esp new) parliamentarians: attend, and behave! attend regularly, and behave responsibly
Parliament in Session ( June 5th, 2009)
Sorry, haven't tweeted for 36 hrs - utterly swamped. Thurs morn was Pres' address to Parl. Majestic occasion, same hall as Constitnt Assmbly
Then got to sit in Rajya Sabha for 1st time as PM introduced his Ministers. Smaller chamber, not as grand as the Lok Sabha!
Delhi political social circuit has come to life - 3 dinner invites a day, 2 of which I manage to attend. Challenge is not to eat at both!
Did roster duty at Parl today - ministers take turns to cover the debates &show govt presence. Abt 100 of 543 MPs attended while I was there
Just caught the end of Neths' victory over England. What a finish! Now to get some sleep before my first mtg tomorrow....
Saturday: called on HRD Min Kapil Sibal abt educnl opps 4 Tvm, on VicePres Hamid Ansari (a wise old friend), + recd lots of Kerala visitors
Two more dinners! That intriguing Delhi mix of politicians, bureaucrats, media, + socialites
June 7th, 2009
two human tragedies in the Gulf to resolve on the weekend, a fatality and an arrest. Thx 2 highly responsive Indn diplomats in Delhi & MEast
still get irritated when Keralites spell my name Sasi. India's most literate state is hopeless at transliterating into English!
called on Kerala's nonagenarian political stalwart Karunakaran at Kerala House. Still sharp at 92 and reverentially called "Leader" by all
reception and dinner for the 19 Stephanian MPs (alumni of St Stephen's College), 7 of whom are Ministers! great college spirit in evidence
Ananthapuri, the alternate name for Thiruvananthapuram, would have been far better for national & global recognition
Tharoor's take on twitter (June 8th, 2009)
Final word to all the controversialists about my twittering: I will only say on twitter what I can say in public. So chill....
Two contradictory msgs fm media: Time mag cover on how twitter is changing the world, WashPost article saying don't tweet yr pol career away
Now watching v tight finish SL- Aust. Interspersed w freq commercial of Priyanka Chopra spkng in an American accent. Globalized India!
About Lok Sabha Proceedings (June 9th, 2009)
Tues was too busy to tweet! Many mtngs at MEA, + Parl session at which PM responded to debate on Pres' speech. LS almost full, grt atmosphre
Ind parl conventions derived fm Brits: thumping desks instd of clapping. Got to shout "aye" to support PM's motion of thx to Pres
About Mangoes (June 9th, 2009)
Having lived abroad in places without Indian mangoes, have literally become "aam aadmi" this year, or at least "aam ka aadmi" - eat 6 a day!
About Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee (June 10th, 2009)
Grt budget prep briefing ydy fm FinMin for Cong MPs - what an encyclopedic mind Pranabda has! Pity public often doesn't see talents of pols
Visiting his constituency for the first time after he became the minister (June 11th, 2009)
then packing for 2-week trip starting tmrw, to Tvm, then interior Kerala, then to represent India at a conf of Indian Ocean Rim countries
In the airport on his way to Trivandrum (June 12th 2009)
Flight to Chennai nearly 2 hrs late Fri night, arrived at guest house just after India had lost. Now flt to Tvm half-hr late (so far)
Calls tell me huge crowd waiting at Tvm airport. Pity their faith in airline punctuality is so rarely warranted
Boarding at last! Will have very little time or opportunity to tweet during the next week - hectic progm in my constituency
First day in Trivandrum as a Minister (June 13th 2009)
End of an exhausting 1st day back in Tvm - massive turnout at airport, flood of visitors and petitions, +devpmt discussion orgzd by Manorama
Great there's so much enthusiasm but level of expectation is unreal - people seem to think an MP can do everything! We hv NO exec authority
Called on Communist Chief Minister Achuthanandan for an amicable bipartisan chat. Let's hope the constructive spirit lasts!
A bit alarmed at the prospect of getting used to armed guards around me all the time! Std state security for visiting ministers
Various activities in Trivandrum (June 14th 2009)
A twitterless Sunday, sorry! There'll be more such days during my insanely overprogrammed Constituency visit. Running on 3 hours' sleep
Sunday began with 3000 gathered at Tvm's Lourdes church (w replica of grotto), ended with 16th mtng I addressed, hosted by 11 business orgs
In btwn there were Congress and allies' celebrations, mtgs w Mayor + officials, press conf, book release of poetry by a sculptor, awards
And as always, an incessant stream of petitions, re pensions denied, school+college admissions, assorted grievances, jobs, visas, the Haj
Relentless pressure of public is main feature of Indn pol life - pushing, jostling, shouting throngs at airport, guesthouse, & meeting halls
Difficult not to be moved by the intense needs of the people and intimidated by the range of their unrealistic expectations!
Kerala MPs and State Govt, led by CM, meeting to discuss State's needs which we must pursue in Delhi. Effective federalism at work
About the Padayatra (June 15th 2009)
Embarked on 1st day of pariyadana, a triumphal tour of the constituency to say thank-you to voters. Had done the same in the campaign
Pariyadana (cf.last tweet) is travel on a decorated open jeep, loudspkrs blaring, w some 90 stops a day to make 2-min speeches. Exhausting
At each stop u collect tributes in the form of scarves, garlands or shawls draped around your neck. Babies r held up to u, sweets offered
(Cf.last tweet) on hot Kerala pariyadana days I've been wrapped in more shawls than a Kashmiri baby in winter!
Today's pariyadana was in Kovalam, lushly beautiful but with pockets of great poverty. There's so much an MP needs to do (or get done) here
Still surprises me that families wait outside their homes till midnight for a glimpse of, and wave from, a passing politician (me)!
In India every MP represents a majority of poor people (living on less than the UN poverty line of $1.25 a day). They must be our priority
More on Padayatra (June 16th 2009)
Should clarify: I get 100s of these shawls and Kerala towels and hand them out (or toss them from the jeep) to poor people along the way
Also get flowers, fruit and coconuts. A little girl offered me her favourite stuffed toy (I gave it back, with flowers).
Have been garlanded with jasmine, limes, rupee notes and artificially coloured marigolds (which leaked orange stains on my white shirt)
Most unusual tribute: an old man whose most precious possessn was a bottle of cologne sprayed it liberally over my arm (all he cld reach!)
Blazing hot afternoon. People wait patiently in the heat (we are 3 hrs late 'cos of extra stops forced by party workers). Some tempers flare
Unpunctuality is another hallmark of Indian politics. Will be lucky to finish by 1 am tonight
School's out! Evrywhere kids in uniform, cheering, sparkling eyes, gleaming smiles. They'll vote next time, says Partyman. Unlikely, 2 young
A gaggle of girls wave enthusiastically fm wrong side of road. That side's TamilNad, says Partyman. Not my voters. I wave back anyway
No delusions of grandeur. Our convoy is the principal diversion on a torpid afternoon
Begng to wilt. Nibbling oranges to fuel myself, but they're like the pol diary itema in some newspprs - juicy but sour
Wonder if standing on swaying platform of an open jeep trundling over rutted roads gives any of the exercise of those fancy PowerPlates?
Waving at every likely voter becomes such a reflex that I've waved at shadows, gargoyles on roofs and even my own face on a pol poster!
Unpunctuality! at 7.30pm we reached where supposed to be at 11.30 am. Lunch served at 7.45 pm! I've rebelled. Pols aren't allowed to tire
Kerala is a microcosm of India's diversity: just driving thru, u see every possible skintone, facial feature and faith
Various activities in Trivandrum (June 17th 2009)
Wed: paid respects at grave of Kamala Suraiya, aka Kamala Das, writer and poet whom I had known since childhood. Orignl voice of fem empwrmt
Gave awards to ayurvedic docs. Ayurveda needs to be recognzed as the holistic medical science it is. More clinical resrch documentn wld help
Inaugurated my first bridge today, in rural Kazhakkoottam. Strange to see one's name on a foundation stone
Met the 4 fishermen rescued by the SL navy whose return home we were able to expedite. Called on editors of Mathrubhumi. (I was the bait!)
Storm in a media teacup abt some partymen allegdly chafing at my independent ways. In politics u can easily make enemies w'out really trying
Just passed a volleyball court made of 2 bamboo poles and a fishing net
Addressed Bar Assocn on Tvm High Ct bench. Urged restraint. Give new Law Min, new Chief Justice and new MP time solve the probm
High Ct agitation nearing 500th day. Tvm only state capital w'out a HC bench. Huge inconvenience and expense
Tharoor's reaction to be called "Delhi Nair' by NSS (June 20th, 2009)
My Tvm week has gone in a blur. Pariyadana and dozens of public engagements, some pvt mtgs starting w brkfst, incl 2 w Kerala govt ministers
'm no demagogue, but there's something abt a cheering, waving, smiling crowd of thousands that stirs the soul. Even if they're schoolkids!
3 day roadtrip fm Sat - Kottayam, Alapuzha, Cherthala & Kochi ydy, with receptions & speeches evrywhere. En route to Guruvayur & Trichur now
Controversy raging abt inadequate representation of Nairs at the Congress high table. NSS ldrship publicly unhappy w nbr of Nair MPs & Mins
I'm an MP for all Tvmites & Min of all Indns. And a Nair. There's a fine line btwn respect for community orgs & being communal.
While travelling to Trissur from Trivandrum (June 21st, 2009)
Travelling thru Kerala u see a lot more kids playing cricket than ever before. Am happy! Grt excitement here abt Abhishek Nayar's selection.
At Trissur and visit to his native place in Palakkad (June 22nd, 2009)
Guruvayur temple ydy. Mother & f'ly enjoyed longish darshan. Wish all worshippers cld see the temple like that instd of being rushed.
Trichur: Inaugurated a festival of intnl films on the theme of the sea. Great concept, lovely coastal setting, but no time to see any!
Most Kerala functions begin with a prayer (sometimes silent, often beautifully sung) and end w the Natnl Anthem. Great tradition!
Grand homecoming to my tharavad, but disconcerted to visit my grandmother & find 7 TV crews and a hundred strangers in the livingroom
Grandmother is 92 and ailing but her voice is vigorous. The entire clan has gathered in the village, all my mom's 7 siblings and offspring!
Another reception at my father's village. Moving to visit the primary school he attended more than 70 years ago
village visit was upliftng. Going back to the roots is essential. If you don't know where u came from, you can't be sure where u're going
Off to Yemen via Dubai, for conf of Indian Ocean rim countries.
In Dubai and Yemen (June 24th, 2009)
A whirlwind halfday in Dubai in transit to Yemen. Wonderful warm welcome fm UAE ministers. Grt discussions. All dtrmined to strengthen relns
No Blackberry functionality in Yemen! A few quick updates during a short break at a PC.
First day in Yemen. After good mtg with Forgn Min, visited Sanaa's historic Old City, incl 1400-yr old bldgs still occupied: "living museum"
Also took in magnificent new Saleh mosque, which even beats Islamabad's. Most mosques and Xian cathedrals awe believers with their majesty
:Unlike the smaller scale of Hindu temples, which suggests a more intimate conception of divinity
In Dubai my old friend Sheikha Lubna, UAE Foreign Trade Minister, hosted a friendly lunch at which she greeted me as "Minister Twitter"!
HH Sheikh Nahyan helicoptered down to Dubai for reception. The only foreign leader to call me twice, when I won the election & became Min.
Warm relations w Gulf cntries predate our independence & theirs. Our relns are civilizational, not just diplomatic. Trading for 3000 yrs!
In Yemen (June 25th, 2009)
sorry no tweet today! conf of Indian Ocean Rim countries, an 18-nation group with grt potential that straddles 3 continents. am Vice-Chair
good bilateral mtgs with Yemen Pres Saleh, whom we've invited to visit India, and Oil Min. Also on sidelines of conf wih 4 FMs and MoSes
still get flattered when foreign diplomat tells me s/he is a fan of my books! believe i can tell when comment is sincere, not mere diplomacy
rather like tradnl Yemeni architecture, esp elaborate blackstone patterns on walls. Bhutan another cntry where bldgs reflect natnl heritage
From Yemen to Delhi (June 26th, 2009)
Taking off for Delhi. Shudder to think of my desk after a 2-wk absence (in Kerala, Dubai & Yemen)
On his functioning as MoS and MP (July 2nd, 2009)
Attended Rajya Sabha too on ministerial duty. Sparsely attended but more decorous. Lengthy speeches on ragging!
besieged by more and more requests for Haj quotas, since as MoS i administer the ltd nbr of places offered to Indian pilgrims by Saudi Govt
I get 20 convincing appeals a day from v influential pols for specl considern of their claims to extra Haj places for their own lists
Success in politics comes fm making difficult choices amongst competing demands and yet satisfying more ppl than u alienate. Not sure I can!
For more of his tweets and latest updates visit @Shashitharoor. Expecting more and more insightful tweets from you Dr Tharoor!