Did you know Shashi Tharoor was once the politician with most followers on Twitter?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020, 09:27
  • Shashi Tharoor was born on March 9, 1956, to an Indian expatriate family living in London. After his birth, they moved to India. Tharoor studied in different schools in India as his father worked in various positions in Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi. Tharoor first studied at Montfort School, Yercaud, and subsequently moved to Mumbai and studied at the Campion School during 1963–68.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor's parents in London around 1957

  • Tharoor spent his high school days at St Xavier's Collegiate School in Calcutta. Later he moved to Delhi and joined St Stephen's College, where he completed his bachelors in History. After completing his graduation, Tharoor, moved to the US to study at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he obtained his master's degree in Law and Diplomacy. He even completed his Ph.D. in International Relations and Affairs at the age of 22.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor during his college days at St. Stephens in New Delhi

  • While he was studying at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, he was awarded the Robert B Stewart Prize for Best Student. He even founded Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal, with his fellow students at the University. He even became the first editor of the journal.

    In picture: Shashi Tharoor with Kofi Annan and Sir Brian Urquhart

  • Tharoor has two honorary degrees from two universities. The University of Puget Sound awarded him with D.Litt. and the University of Bucharest awarded him a doctorate honoris causa in history. He received awards like "New Age Politician of the Year" from a reputed press company, the Hakim Khan Sur Award for National Integration, and the Priyadarshini Award for Excellence in Diplomacy.

    In pic: Shashi Tharoor and Manisha Koirala

  • Apart from honorary degrees, Tharoor is a recipient of several awards, which includes Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India's highest honour for overseas nationals. He also received the Encomienda de la Real Order Espanola de Carlos III from the King of Spain in 2012.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with Vietnamese refugees at the Hawkins Road refugee camp in Singapore, 1981-84.

  • Shashi Tharoor was a pioneer in using social media as an instrument of political interaction. Till 2013, he was India's most-followed politician on Twitter, until being overtaken that year by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He was the first Indian to reach 10,000 and 100,000 followers on the medium.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with Shah Rukh Khan

  • In 1978, Tharoor kick-started his career by joining the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is located in Geneva, by becoming a staff member. He worked in different capacities in UNHRC till 2007. He had worked as deputy chief of the UNHCR Secretariat, special assistant for the United States and UN for peacekeeping, executive assistant to the secretary-general, under-secretary-general for communications and public information.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with former UN General Secretary Kofi Anan in 1995.

  • In 2007, Tharoor was chosen as India’s official candidate for the post of secretary-general in UN. However, former South Korean diplomat and politician Ban Ki-moon became the secretary-general. He had also briefly worked as a chairman of an investment company based in the emirate of Dubai.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon

  • After his three-decades-long career at the UN, Tharoor then stepped into politics by joining Congress in 2009 and contested the general elections from a constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state. He received massive backlash from the leaders of the Kerala branch of the Congress Party, as they saw him as an outsider. Despite heavy opposition, he won the election with a considerable margin over his nearest opponent from CPI.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with David Cameron's wax statue at Madame Tussaud's in London

  • Not long after the election, Tharoor was inducted in Manmohan Singh's cabinet government in 2009. He was appointed as the Ministry of External Affairs in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, his tenure in the central government didn't last long due to a series of controversies generated over his indiscreet usage of the online microblogging service Twitter. He frequently sent messages about his personal life and professional career.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha.

  • Notably, in one instance, he was alleged to have ridiculed the economic austerity measures of the UPA government. He was also questioned for his alleged interest in a cricket team from Kochi. He then resigned from the ministry in 2010. However, he remained active in Lok Sabha and served on committees focused on foreign affairs and defence.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with former President of United States of America Bill Clinton

  • Tharoor once again became the union minister of state and was appointed as Minister of Human Resources Development. Controversies erupted for his criticizing then BJP leader Narendra Modi during his second stint in the ministry. However, he had to step down from his ministry post when BJP won the 2014 general election in a landslide victory.

    In Picture: Shashi Tharoor with his kids

  • Apart from Politics, Tharoor is also a successful author. He had published notable nonfiction books. Some of his notable works are Reasons of State: Political Development and India’s Foreign Policy Under Indira Gandhi, 1966–1977 (1982), India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), Nehru: The Invention of India (2003), The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell phone: Reflections on India, the Emerging 21st-Century Power (2007), and Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century (2012).

    In picture: Shashi Tharoor with New Zealand Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson

  • Some of his works have also turned into Bollywood films. His book 'Show Business', which is a postmodern satirical novel, was published in 1992. The book was made into two films, Bollywood (1994), and Riot (2001). 

    In picture: Shashi Tharoor with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ritu Beri

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About The Gallery

Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor is a staunch politician and an intelligent person, who straddles several worlds of experience. He is known for being an effective orator, and a prolific and respected author. He is also a prominent diplomat and politician who had served in various capacities during his political career. As he turns 64 on March 9, we trace Shashi Tharoor's journey in pictures.

(All pictures/ Shashi Tharoor's Instagram)