Published: 21st March 2018
Here's why memes make Shashi Tharoor crack up and have 'farrago' moments!
Do you think Tharoor's vocabulary is because of memorising all the words in the Oxford dictionary?Absolutely not! His logophilia (the love of words) is definitely a result of extensive reading
On a scale of one to Shashi Tharoor, how good is your English? Unless you're new to the internet and the world of memes, it is quite unlikely that you've not come across this question and the memes related to it. Most of you may have even laughed out loud at them. But did you know that these memes don't exasperate Shashi Tharoor himself? In fact, they crack him up, just like the rest of us. And that's not all. He even jokes that he may have deliberately used some uncommon words in his tweets thanks to these memes.
But did Tharoor spend hours as a child memorising all the words in the Oxford dictionary? Absolutely not! His logophilia (the love of words) is definitely a result of extensive reading. "I grew up in an India where I had no computer, no television, no Nintendo and no mobile phones. So, reading was all I did. On top of that, I was an asthmatic child, which meant that I couldn't go out and play. So, I read obsessively, widely and indiscriminately. As a result, I acquired a lot of words simply by reading. When you encounter the same word in three different places, you learn how it is used. That is how my vocabulary grew," says Tharoor, who believes that proficiency in a language is always important to appreciate certain things like humour and smiles.
'The British didn't have any interest in educating Indians'
Having said that, if you think that Tharoor belongs to that section of society that considers proficiency in the English language as a bar to assess one's social status, you're wrong. Even though this Member of Parliament is an ardent lover of the language and its literature, he doesn't consider it to be the passport to success. A critic of the British rule in India, who lashed out through his book, An Era of Darkness, Tharoor, who considers the term ‘Macaulayputra’ an insult, says, "The British certainly didn't do us any favours by teaching us English. Their government didn't have any interest in educating Indians."
Idea flow: Tharoor feels that the Hindutva ideology has distorted the Hindu faith
St Stephen's again? Not without raising my voice
The India he grew up in was absolutely different. The socio-political situation and the values were different. The country was tolerant to change and harmony still existed. Tharoor has always been critical of the rising intolerance and the Hindutva ideology, and that got us wondering if this St Stephen's alumnus would consider studying there had he been an 18-year-old in 2018. "It is a very difficult question to answer," says Tharoor, adding, "A lot of things weren't how they used to be. I'm proud of my own college and I would love to study there again, but I think we'll all need to raise our voices to ensure that the values we grew up taking for granted are restored again.”
Tharoor is deeply hurt to see his country become something that many from his generation fail to recognise. But trust this politician to have a solution for everything. Tharoor wants the MHRD to send circulars to all the universities asking them to make a special effort to defend political intolerance on their campus. He also seems unhappy with the way History is being taught. "If you don't know where you come from, how will you appreciate your growth?" he asks, adding, "Our government has brought History to ground zero. It is a congested battleground. History is now used as a weapon," expressing his displeasure in a not-so-subtle manner.
I've been hearing things being said in public platforms that were considered impolite to express even behind the closed doors of your living room when I was a young person
Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament
He also comments on how the Hindutva ideology has distorted the Hindu faith. "Many people felt that I had written (in the book Why I Am a Hindu) of the Hinduism that they knew and cherished. Unfortunately, the votaries of Hindutva are taking up the values of magnificent Hinduism. The values and precepts taught to us by the great Mahatmas are reduced to a kind of badge of identity of the British football hooligan who goes on saying 'My team is better than yours and I will beat you on the head if you don't agree’," remarks Tharoor.
Wink it like Varrier, wing it like Tharoor
On the same evening that we managed to catch Tharoor for a quick chat on a busy hotel corridor in Chennai, he also addressed a group of the city's Rotarians. There too, he managed to catch the attention of the audience. The reasons may be many — his eloquent speech, the way he answered every question without hesitation, the time he corrected a Rotarian when he mispronounced the word ‘oeuvre’ or when he wished that he'd known girls who winked like Priya Varrier when he was in school. He also addressed the crowd on India’s demographic dividend and what it means to be literate in today’s environment for a job seeker, where he again criticised the education system for not skilling the youth appropriately. "The kinds of skills that are required these days are different. People have to wake up and realise that unless we keep up with the rest of the world, we can't succeed," he says.