15 October 2006

Don't mention Tharoor's name to Indian Foreign Ministry people. They are very upset. First he went above their heads to get a nomination from the Prime Minister. Then he withdrew without bothering to tell them. In both cases, they knew about it from the papers. In between they had to soldier on, putting on a brave face for the sake of their unique country, a true U.N. country, with a solid international background going back to Prime Minister Nehru, and a string of outstanding Indians who served the world body with the same distinction as raising the name of their country.

The name, prestige, and dynamics of India lifted Tharoor's candidature to a serious level, although most did not really take him seriously. They knew he would be blocked when the voting got serious. It was the thrust of India that propelled his name through straw polls. There were much more qualified Indians, but Foreign Ministry officials dutifully toed the line, knowing full well that putting up a losing candidate will not only erode India's prestige but will also diminish their chance for a permanent seat in the Security Council. Tharoor did not shy away from using India's name to the hilt, while rushing about to push for votes. When U.S. Under-Secretary Nicholas Burns had to tell him bluntly that he did not have the requisite political experience for the job, the agitated self-promoter invoked the prospect of deteriorating U.S.-Indo relations. That, of course, proved to be a non-issue amongst the two countries.

Anyway, the moment he felt the wind blowing towards the South Korean candidate, Tharoor took to the microphone (which belonged to his Department from which he was presumably on leave). Not only did he announce his withdrawal, but that he had already written to Mr. Ban congratulating, wishing success, offering support, etc., etc., etc.

Forget about India. His new tack seems to be that posing as an Indian was, in fact, a burden. Briefing points swiftly passed to "friendly" journalists seems to indicate -- in addition to underwriting the "boring" personality of the winner -- that because India is a growing power, many countries hesitated to vote for him. True, he was an Indian candidate but not India's candidate -- or some hairsplitting along those lines. In fact, he was British. He was born in London, you know. He spoke, you know, a "British Elite" accent. You may also note his hairstyle: typically non-Indian; actually -- you got it -- British.

Actually. Actually, he is looking for a job.