Global Politics & Cultures (formerly Independent Thought & Freedom)
Episode 81

53: Shashi Tharoor | The CAA, Independent India, Hinduism, and Hindutva

Kirk Meighoo published on

Welcome to the First Episode of Year 2 of Independent Thought and Freedom

India is the world's 3rd largest economy today, after the US and China, but it doesn't wield political and economic power in world affairs commensurate with its weight.

Compared to smaller economies Russia, Israel, Turkey, or even Iran, for instance, let alone China, India's influence pales in comparison.

At a time when the world is in turmoil from Hong Kong, to Iran to Syria to Venezuela, this is significant.

However, India has been undergoing a tremendous transformation domestically, with Narendra Modi and the BJP establishing its political dominance in a shift toward Hindutva nationalism.

This parallels shifting political paradigms all over the world from centrist liberalism to populist nationalism.

What role -- if any -- will India play in the current reshaping of the world that is occuring before our very eyes?

How will India reshape itself?

Today, my guest can perhaps answer this question better than anyone else.

I am honoured and pleased to welcome Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament of the Republic of India since 2009 and former Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of Human Resource Development.

Before getting in politics, Dr. Tharoor had a most distinguished career as a diplomat at the United Nations, last serving as UnderSecretary-General. He came in second place to replace Kofi Annan, losing to Ban Ki-Moon after he was vetoed by the United States.

Dr. Tharoor is also an acclaimed writer, having authored 18 bestselling works of fiction and non-fiction since 1981, and has written hundreds of columns and articles in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek, and The Times of India. 

Throughout his career, he has received too many awards to mention, but I will just note the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, the Global Leader of Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum in Davos, GQ's Inspiration of the Year Award, "New Age Politician of the Year" Award, Digital Person of the Year award, PETA's person of the year, and it goes on and on. And there will be more to come, I am certain.


We discuss

- The refugee bill and the discrimination against non-Hindus
- Should religion determine the basis of nationhood?
- Religious fundamentalism difference between Pakistan Independence and Indian Independence
- The rise of the "chauvinistic" BJP as a betrayal of the secular Indian Independence struggle
- Should India be a homeland for Hindu refugees?
- challenging discrimination against Indian Muslims by the BJP
- balancing a critique of the old liberal, Western system with a defense of the universal relevance of Western democracy and secularism
- the BJP's narrow interpret
- Swami Vivekananda's critique of "tolerance" and advocacy of "acceptance"
- Hinduism as Indian liberalism vs. Hindutva as illiberal Hinduism
- the changes in nationalism from the Indian Independence Movement 
- George Orwell's differentiation between patriotism and nationalism
- the implications of these views for the place of India in the world
- his new book "New Word Disorder and the Indian Imperative"
- India's place in the new emerging world order


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