This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aishwarya. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How I Became A Shashi Tharoor Fan Overnight

More from Aishwarya

To be honest, before April 12, 2018, all I knew or bothered to know about Shashi Tharoor was that he’s a politician whose English diction is said to be better than that of the British themselves, and that there was a controversy about his third wife. It was on this day that I was going to be revolutionised!

Shashi Tharoor was supposed to be in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) to deliver a speech for the All India Professionals’ Congress in Chhattisgarh. And I must count our lucky stars – for 20 of us, students of Rajkumar College, Raipur, got the opportunity to attend this conference as volunteers. And after that, we got to interact with him personally. And trust me when I say he is beautiful!

As an orator, as a person speaking for what he truly believes in, he really touched the intellectual side of me. Every word of his boasted of great thought and meaning. He told us, “Even if you say you are not interested in politics, politics is interested in you.” Well, that got me interested all right! What followed was days of researching and watching all the videos and interviews of Tharoor that I could find. My exasperated sister said, “You seem to be suffering from Tharoorism.” That is when I realised that ‘Tharoorism’ is not just a ‘fandom’ thing. It actually is a revolution.

To understand this, we must delve into the mind of Shashi Tharoor and try to broaden our own minds. I am sure most of you do not support discrimination on the basis of caste and religion. But, let’s say you were to adopt a child. Ask yourselves – if you are a Hindu, would you adopt a Muslim child? Or a child whose parents are Dalits? I very much doubt that the answer will be yes. Also, how many of us have actually gone to places of worship other than those of the religion we belong to, with the intent of praying? We will not openly discriminate, but neither will we give them a place in our hearts.

Shashi Tharoor (Source: Wikipedia)

There is a very fine line between these two and Tharoor, inspired by Swami Vivekananda, has termed them as ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’. He says that ‘tolerance’ is a virtue, no doubt. But it is a very patronising virtue which says, “I am right, you are an error. But I will magnanimously indulge you in the right to be wrong.” On the other hand, acceptance entails saying, “I believe I have the truth, you believe you have the truth. I will respect your truth, please respect my truth.”

Tolerance is what most of us practise – and we need to understand that it has too many limits. It will never make other people feel a sense of belonging and respect. Acceptance, on the other hand, is a beautiful concept – for it makes you realise that it is not wrong to be different. It makes you love other people without judging them for who they are, in terms of caste or religion, because we have to face them. These are barriers we have created – and they have certainly not helped us in any way.

What I am going to write next is politically inspired by the Congress’ ideology. Shashi Tharoor has said that when he was to join Indian politics, he wanted to make a difference – and that he was approached by the Congress and the BJP. He turned down the BJP’s advances because he didn’t think that it was the government’s business to look into the public’s fridges to see what they are eating, or into their bedrooms to see who they are sleeping with, or what they are wearing. It was the Congress’ ideology which appealed to him the most, because ever since the birth of independent India, the Congress has never wavered in its mission of uniting Indian people.

It is possible for us to live together in harmony despite the differences of caste, religion, gender, colour, cuisine, custom and costume. We don’t have to agree all the time as long as we agree on the ground rules of how to disagree!

And that is the only thing which has proved many historians of the 20th century wrong. They believed that this land of vast cultural diversity and inhibitions would never be able to survive and that it would soon disintegrate. I doubt whether we would remain as whole as we do today, if the BJP had come to power after independence. For example, regarding the Ayodhya issue, what are we fighting for? Where to construct a structure of bricks and stones, and whether to put a crescent or a deity inside! And in the process of “reclaiming” our religious place, we are very religiously of course taking human lives.

Just like Dr Tharoor has encouraged in his book, “Why I Am A Hindu”, we need to stop the adulteration of Hinduism which has been increasing manifold. In the past few years, we can see that Hindutva has only led to communal violence. I think we should go back and take lessons from the saying in the Hindu scripture – “Atithi Devo Bhava” which roughly translates into “The guest is the equivalent of God.” If the people of our society have difficulty in accepting others and use violence against them in the name of Hindutva, this here is exactly what the scriptures say! This is what they should follow.

The Muslims, Christians and those from other communities are but permanent Indian guests – and this house, this nation, belongs to them as much as it does to the Hindus, in fact more so, if you go by the saying. All these (and many more) are the reasons why I believe that if everyone tries to think like Shashi Tharoor and inculcate even a fraction of his ideas, a difference for the better is bound to be made. Nobody can stop that from happening!

You must be to comment.
  1. Akash Chauhan

    Very well written aishwarya loved your thoughts and way of writing keep writing more.

    1. Aishwarya Ghuge

      Thank You so much!!

  2. Ishan Dhyani

    “Why Tharoorism is a revolution?”
    It’s really a question to ponder about. An author politician, it’s indeed a once in a blue boon combination in Indian politics. Being a highly celebrated author and rather a better orator, Mr Tharoor is really worth reading about.
    But I think I disagree with you on a bit of points.
    1 I find no reason for our nation not being united, if the BJP or any other political group would have lead the national movement. And if I’m not wrong, the INC, seventy years ago acted as some umbrella organisation for the nationalistic movement. Hence, there can’t be question of any other political group participating in the movement.
    2 The Athithi Devo Bahva”

    1. Aishwarya Ghuge

      If you go back in History, you will see that even then communalism was rampant and it was encouraged by people who belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS. Their fight was not for Independence but for Hindu rule. Do you really think we would have got independence if the congress had not been a unifying body?

  3. Prantik Sengupta

    Finally! I got someone who’s as interested in Tharoor as I am from a long time. I will never forget how he inspired, almost urged me to start writing, when I had the opportunity to meet and interact with him at the Kolkata Literary Meet two years ago. I remember how he lamented about the US vetoing his UNSG candidature. I boastfully say that I’ve read every book and seen every interview of Tharoor and almost find in him someone whom I aspire to be one day. I will never forget what he once said, “One day I will be a former MP, but I never want to be a former writer.”

    1. Aishwarya Ghuge

      I know right! He is so awesome!!!

More from Aishwarya

Similar Posts

By Room to Read

By Shreya

By Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below