I have developed a thick skin for criticism: Dr Shashi Tharoor

Hyderabad: The corporate titans of our country are afraid of criticising people in power because of a lack of courage said Dr Shashi Tharoor while replying to a question at a FICCI Ladies Interactive (FLO) session at Hotel Park in Somajiguda on Monday afternoon. He was in conversation with Sriram Karri, a veteran journalist.

The corporates are worried that they may be subjected to tax raids and twisting laws. The successive governments have a track record of misusing power, resolving to arm-twisting tactics, he explained in a reply to a question at the interactive session. 

FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) organised an interactive session “Dr Shashi Tharoor—The Man, The Writer, The Statesman” at Hotel Park, Somajiguda Monday evening. He was in conversation with Sriram Karri. 

Welcoming the gathering, Shubhra Maheshwari said it was a great pleasure for her in welcoming Dr Tharoor, a man with many talents. It is always a great pleasure listening to the wizards of words. FLO has many fans of him, he added

The conversation began with Shubhraa Maheshwari, Chairperson of FLO Hyderabad asking him why women’s representation was not growing despite the best policies and efforts. 

There are several reasons for this. The major ones are historic and cultural and not because of the lack of talent. India lags in women’s representation in senior management, especially in PSUs. When I raised this issue in Parliament, it failed to get support. 

No one raises this. But the fact remains that Indian women are doing remarkably well in entrepreneurship. Based on some metrics they are said to be better than men. Women have proved their mettle in the Start-up space. Women are efficient in every profession. They are less distractive and more productive, he said.

Intervening here, Sriram Karri said, women’s representation in media is well above the norm. Women constitute more than 50% of the media fraternity today. Media and broadcasting or name any other space within media is dominated by women. Ours is women dominated domain, he added.

On asking why he is a woman charmer, and why he has so much of women following, Dr Tharoor said, it is better to ask them rather than me. I treat women with respect, which I probably why I am considered so, he replied.  

On Mukesh Ambani announcing succession plan and giving major responsibility to a son, rather than a daughter, Dr Tharoor said age gets better responsibility. That could be the reason. His firstborn is to be succeeding him. Other considerations may be because of cultural reasons. I don’t see any other reasons for the discrimination. Speaking further he added that till 1956, Hindu women never had the right to their parents’ property. Every woman has to fight a battle within the family. India has done pioneering work in women’s rights. Most of the Hindu gods are women. We have enough positive reasons, he explained. 

Why he is always in the thick of the storm? Why he is criticised so much? And how does he take it? Dr Tharoor said I take it with pinch of salt. When I got into politics, I was not properly prepared for it. When I was subjected to a lot of criticism, I was worried, suffered and depressed. I even consulted lawyers to sue them. But what former diplomat Natwar Sing said once, made a huge difference. I have become thick-skinned. I have grown a thick skin. I follow what my former Kofi Annan, once advised, “when the sharks bite you, do not bleed”. The people who criticise you derive satisfaction if you suffer. That is why I don’t give them that honour, he shared  

When asked if he was regretting throwing a highly paid job at the United Nations, he said I used to earn $ 50,000 for a speech assignment. I was never motivated by the bottom line. I was always interested in what impact I would make on my fellow citizens. 

I have no regrets he said  

When he was given a half-fiction story and asked to complete the other half, to extract his inner thoughts on the outcome of the fray he is in, Dr Tharoor categorically said it is their land and whatever they want will happen. 

About his language and his passion for vocabulary and how he remembers so many rare words, Dr Tharoor said, you will forget if you don’t use them. That is why you see me using them, he told.  

If I had not been what I am today, I would have chosen cricket because I am passionate about it, Dr Tharoor answered another question.  

The session was well attended by well over 150 members of the FLO

In the end, he also answered many questions asked by young girls as well as FLO members and patiently posed for photographs

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