Shashi Tharoor: India strengthening security cooperation with Gulf countries

Ehtesham Shahid

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Interviewing Dr. Shashi Tharoor becomes easy because the tough part is over by then.

When I sat down with him at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai on Saturday (March 3), I thought his mind would be occupied with the session he had to address soon after.

Instead, Tharoor was busy checking the latest cricket scores and even talked about a couple of Indian cricketers who, according to him, retired too early. Once the interview began, there was no stopping him.

Inglorious empire

I was immediately corrected for believing that he is in promotion mode for his latest book – Why I am a Hindu - released recently.

“I am here still plugging my previous book from last year, which was called era of darkness in the British Empire India and in Britain was called inglorious empire, what the British did to India,” he said.

Mono-faith region

Dr. Tharoor also described the strengths and weaknesses of being a largely mono-faith region that the Middle East has been for over a century.

“The strength is that everyone follows the same approach where religion becomes a communally knitting bond for the overwhelming population and the weakness is that therefore there is much less understanding or accommodation of other ways of worship and belief,” he said.

Asian Muslims

Tharoor cited numbers to drive home the point that the vast majority of Muslims are actually Asians, looking at the large Muslim populations in India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

“But it is important to acknowledge that those 700 million look to those 200 plus million [in the Arab world] as the fountain, crucible or the center of their faith,” he said.

At the end of it all, Dr Shashi Tharoor came across as a politician, diplomat, and author, all rolled into one.