Dr Shashi Tharoor’s new book ‘Pride, Prejudice and Punditry’ launched in Delhi

‘Pride, Prejudice, and Punditry’ consists of 70 selections which range from fiction to non-fiction; politics to history from Tharoor’s published books, articles and many pieces written for this volume

Shashi Tharoor at the launch
Shashi Tharoor at the launch

Murtaza Ali Khan

Dr Shashi Tharoor’s new book ‘Pride, Prejudice and Punditry’ was recently launched in Delhi. The event was organized by ‘Kitaab,' an initiative of Prabha Khaitan Foundation. Published by Aleph Book Company, ‘Pride, Prejudice, and Punditry’ brings together seventy selections which range from fiction to non-fiction; politics to history from Tharoor’s published books and articles—as well as many pieces that have been written specially for this volume.

The book marks the culmination of over 50 years of Dr Tharoor’s writings. His first short story made it into print when he was only 10 and since then he has published well over 5 million words—in books, newspapers, magazines, journals, online media, etc.—on a wide array of subjects.

At the book launch event, Dr Tharoor was in conversation with novelist David Davidar wherein the latter tried to explore and unearth the stories behind the selections in ‘Pride, Prejudice and Punditry’. Dr Tharoor revealed how his reading and writing habits developed at a very young age.

He was mostly confined to his bed as a child because of being asthmatic as his condition didn’t allow him to go out and play with other kids. Also, back then there was no television or computers and so the world of books became his refuge. His parents were also instrumental in shaping him and his qualities right from a very young age. Also, it greatly helped that he was constantly being read by those he knew personally. “Since what I wrote was being read by people I would regularly meet since these were appearing in Indian magazines and my family’s friends and my own friends read it. So I was getting the feedback in real time. That was really the shaping of me as a writer,” recollected Dr Tharoor.

During the conversation, Dr Tharoor brushed aside the accusation that he purposefully uses big and unfamiliar words in his writings. He reminded that he wouldn’t have had the kind of readership that he enjoys had his readers not understood his thoughts and ideas he communicates through his writings. He also stressed upon the need to communicate to people and try as far as possible to use words which most effectively convey your message to people. He also explained that his reputation of using big words comes in particular because of one incident, where he reacted in fury to the false accusations made by an egregious showman masquerading as a journalist, describing it as an “exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations & outright lies”. Dr Tharoor also said that ‘farrago’ is a word that he has been using in debates since his college days and it basically means ‘a confused mixture’.

While sharing his thoughts on Hinduism, Dr Tharoor touched upon the need to find one’s own truth within oneself. He emphasized that Hinduism believes that your truth is within yourself and so you don’t seek the truth outside. He also explained that the very idea of a personal truth admits the possibility of other truths. In essence, Hinduism to him is a unique faith which says essentially that all ways of looking towards the divine are equally valid.

Talking about his political career and what made him join politics, Dr Tharoor explained that after quitting the UN, he did some consultation work for an MNC. But making money was never a motivation for him and looking at things like investment and profit just did not interest him. He was more interested about matters going on in India. So when the Congress party offered him a ticket to contest for elections, he didn’t hesitate to accept the offer.

Dr Tharoor also recited two of his poems from ‘Pride, Prejudice and Punditry’ at the end of his conversation with David Davidar. One of them is titled ‘Sunanda Now Gone,’ which he wrote in the memory of his late wife, Sunanda Pushkar, a few months after her tragic and premature death.

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