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Home » Opinion » An open letter: Dear Madhu Kishwar, Shashi Tharoor does not need your Character Certificate

An open letter: Dear Madhu Kishwar, Shashi Tharoor does not need your Character Certificate

Katherine By Katherine Abraham
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An open letter by a Tharoorian: Dear Madhu Kishwar, Shashi Tharoor does not need your Character Certificate

Dear Madam,

At the outset, let me clarify, our paths haven’t crossed before neither online nor offline and for both our sakes, I hope it never does.

I decided to understand your profile a little before I wrote to you, half- expecting to be met with a description that read as 12th pass / fail candidate struggling to create a space for herself in the political world, but then I was proved wrong. As I understand you posit yourself as a Professor, Activist and Author. The unfortunate scenario is that we share two titles. I don’t get down to activism unless a cause absolutely entreats me to and today is one such day.

This open letter is not just for you, but also for the members of your tribe who find sadistic pleasure in tarnishing fellow Indians as you employ loosely worded statements with memes from the internet for a cheap thrill. Frankly, I would never have bothered to write to you, having had a chance to glance at your timeline which is a complex admixture of vile irrationalism and misguided activism- if you hadn’t chosen the wrong target.

The gentleman who you happened to direct a vile tweet incidentally also happens to be someone I’ve looked up to now for a decade and more and while I know that there have been enough rumours that have eclipsed his personal life I’m ashamed to see that someone with your educational background (if Wikipedia is right!) is stooping to such lows. For the world, he is Shashi Tharoor, the politician, diplomat and author. For me he’s always been a mentor, a father figure and someone who has relentlessly guided me to be the best version of my professional self. In short, he is someone I Respect.

While your tweets are a reflection of your thoughts, here’s a little advice from someone half your age, one: ride on facts, it always helps. Two- a professor is a symbol of enlightenment. Your slackly worded statements of caution may invite the army of political vultures waiting to tear at a man’s character, but what about your students? Is this the kind of knowledge you impart? As a teacher, I would never ever want to set a wrong example for my students, even by accident. Three, you want to put your foot through the door in some political party, by all means, do so but not at the cost of someone else’s dignity, honour and social standing. It is because of people like you, India will always have an uncivilised and uncouth political discourse.

To come to the most important part of this letter, you mentioned that if you were the parent to a daughter you would keep her away from Shashi Tharoor. Well, there’s a reason, God didn’t give you one. You just didn’t qualify for the role. As for me- my parents don’t feel insecure when I meet Shashi Tharoor. Period. Any thinking rational minded parent would never discourage their ‘daughters’ from interacting with someone like him because they know that when their children return, they would have refined their perspectives on life. The single most daunting problem for Twitterati like you is that apart from a case that is sub judice, you know that you have nothing, literally no ammo on him and so you are desperate to bring down a man who spent 30 years abroad with an untainted character only to return to his own country to be maligned by his own countrymen.

It is thanks to people like you, that young people like me abstain from tweeting Dr. Tharoor, no- not because we are scared of him- but because we are apprehensive that people like you  sitting free in their plush, privileged A.C rooms, drawing crowds that scream – Tharoor – Leela and Sunanda- will use our tweets to spoil both his name and ours. I’ve been reading armchair thinkers tweeting and dissecting the man’s personal life as though someone were paying them daily wages for it. This is why it became necessary to write to you and all of your ilk.

And here’s some ammo against me, I have already faced a Broadcast Media trial thanks to educated illiterates like you sitting in media houses who tried to convince a member of Parliament that I had dishonoured him so that my name could be raked up in a trial that I was not even remotely concerned with. Thanks to a degree in law, the incident left me undeterred.

I read that you are/ were the Director of CSDS to promote the study of Religions and Cultures. The Centre for Development Studies cannot promote development when the foundation stone itself sits on uneven ground, so I leave you with three thoughts with the undying hope that one of them will inspire you to apologise and otherwise at least have the decency to withdraw your comments:

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” – The Bible

“The best among you in Islam are those with the best manners, so long as they develop a sense of understanding.” – Hadith 289

“Now as a man is like this or like that, according to as he acts and according to as he behaves so will he be; a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad; he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;

And here they say that a person consists of desires, and as is his desire, so is his will; and as is his will, so is his deed; and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.”

  • Brihadaranayaka Upanishad (The law of Karma)

In case none of the above appeal to your conscience my last request would be to get help.

Dr. Shashi Tharoor neither needs your character certificate, in fact, nor does he need this letter because as the saying goes, Haters will hate, we’ve just gotta keep moving. This letter is largely for me because I need to answer my conscience and it wouldn’t allow me to sleep if I had to sit complacently while my Guru faced wanton nonsense. When I used the term Tharoorian for the first time, people very much like you laughed. Today it’s a family of a million people and growing! That’s the power of influence, not mine – his!

So please, don’t bother writing back to me, instead answer your own conscience today and when you tweet try to spread the light that as an academic you are duty bound to. Most importantly, the next time you open your mouth, ask your conscience if it still permits your narrow mind to go on full display because the crow with peacock feathers is still a crow!


Katherine. A

Author, Teacher and The First Tharoorian