India: Issues and Opportunities | Skeptical about idea of national coalition, says Tharoor

The Hindu Prize 2018: Fiction and Non-Fiction will also be announced.

October 14, 2018 05:42 pm | Updated 08:20 pm IST

Shashi Tharoor and Gopalkrishna Gandhi at The Hindu Lit for Life dialogue 2018, in Chennai on October 14, 2018.

Shashi Tharoor and Gopalkrishna Gandhi at The Hindu Lit for Life dialogue 2018, in Chennai on October 14, 2018.

The LFL lecture series is a precursor to The Hindu Lit for Life, which takes place every year in January. Instituted in 2016, the series was inaugurated by a lecture on India at 70 by historian and scholar Ramachandra Guha. The second lecture was on Literature and Law by AP Shah, retired Chief Justice of Madras High Court. The idea of this annual series is to explore and engage with current critical issues and shine a new light on important subjects from thinkers and public intellectuals.

This year The Hindu Lit for Life is hosting a dialogue with Shashi Tharoor and Gopalkrishna Gandhi on issues and opportunities in India.

Watch the live stream of the event here:


Follow live updates of the event here:

The Hindu Prize shortlist


The Hindu Lit prize for fiction 2018 — shortlist

Half the night is gone - Amitabha Bagchi

A day in the life (stories) - Anjum Hasan

All the lives we never lived - Anuradha Roy

Requiem in Raga Janki - Neelum Saran Gour

Poonachi - Perumal Murugan (translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman)

The Aunt who wouldn't die - Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha)

The Hindu Lit prize for non-fiction 2018 — shortlist

Interrogating my Chandal life - Manoranjan Byapari

The Bengalis - Sudeep Chakravarti

Remanents of a Partition - Anchal Malhotra

Indira Gandhi8: A Life in Nature - Jairam Ramesh

The Most Dangerous Place - Srinath Raghavan

Jury for the fiction category

Radha Chakravarty

Githa Hariharan

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Paul Zacharia

A.J. Thomas

Paul Zacharia talks about the judging process.

The jury for non-fiction category

Rustom Bharucha

Harsh Sethi

Chandan Gowda

Kamini Mahadevan

Shiv Visvanathan

Question and Answer session


The discussion between Shashi Tharoor and Gopalkrishna Gandhi ends. The Hindu Prize shortlists follow.

Mr. Tharoor on the Congress in Tamil Nadu: "It is inevitable for the Congress to collaborate with regional parties."

Mr. Tharoor says "In India we have a culturally Right which is economically Left".

Mr. Tharoor says "No Hindu would want a Ram temple built after demolishing another religion's place of worship."

Mr. Tharoor says to another question "The new law regarding triple talaq criminalises a civil offence."

Mr. Tharoor on # Metoo : "We have to accept that this is a necessary cleansing. The movt. had helped us confront something that has happened too much in our country."

To another question, Mr. Tharoor says "In the short term we do have to import advanced weaponry. For us to imagine we can replicate overnight the advanced technology of other countries is not possible."

To a question, Shashi Tharoor says "Whoever emerges the victor in the next election, it is important for that party to reach out to the other and adopt a different approach instead of tearing each other down. But I don't expect anything different in the next 6 months ."

7.20 pm


The Hindu Prize was instituted in 2010, the prize awards the best in Indian writing in English in fiction. This year the category for non-fiction has also been introduced.

7.00 pm


Mr. Gandhi asks "Can the Hindu-Muslim divide and the communal divide today be brought back to where it was? Can India become a civilisation that can overcome its wounds?"

Mr. Tharoor says "On the topic of religion and Hinduism - "I think we will have to brace ourselves for more unpleasantness in the coming months. After the next elections there will have to be a process of healing and reaching out to the marginalised communities"

6.55 pm


Mr. Gandhi asks Shashi Tharoor "Jealousy has always been a big factor in Indian politics."

Mr. Tharoor replies "I'm afraid we (Congress) may never surmount the problem of factionalism."

"What an honest answer", replies Mr. Gandhi, followed by applause.

Mr. Tharoor further adds "Democracy has always been based on a self correcting mechanism and I am sure we too will correct ourselves"

6.50 pm


Mr. Gandhi asks "Is it time for the Congress to reflect and recognise the roles of the regional parties?"

Mr Tharoor replies  "I have always been skeptical about the idea of a national coalition."

6.40 pm


Mr. Gandhi asks "It's good that Rahul Gandhi said that we don't want a BJP mukth India, and that the BJP should be allowed to exist."

Mr. Tharoor replies "I don't think we can object if we have an RSS scholar with the right qualifications and pedigree to take on an important position, even if you don't agree with his politics."

He further says "There was no attempt by the UPA to muzzle the freedom of speech in the universities."

6.35 pm


Mr Gandhi asks "The devil of political debate has degenerated to such an extent that people of my generation are aghast."

Mr. Tharoor says "The Congress party has been accused by its own well-wishers for not being robust enough."

6.30 pm


Mr. Gandhi asks Mr. Thaoor: "You made a slightly pointless criticism of Sushma Swaraj on her speech in the UN."

Mr. Tharoor replies "Krishna Menon holds the record for the longest speech at the UN, he then collapsed in a faint".

6.25 pm

Mr. Gandhi asks "One decision that disappointed me was the decision to try to impeach the Chief Justice of India."

Mr. Tharoor: "We are seeing a liberal direction coming from the Supreme Court and that has to be applauded." He was referring to Sec. 377 and the ruling on the Right to Privacy

6.20 pm

Mr. Gandhi asks "Why the Congress and UPA did not install the Lokpal?"

Mr. Tharoor says "If we had a Lokpal that is subservient to the govt. of the day, then we might as well not have Lokpal".

6.15 pm

Shashi Tharoor says "We are not only the world's largest democracy but also the world's largest hypocrisy".

He also adds  "Disastrous demonitisation was something the Congress would not have done."

Mr. Tharoor says "Intolerance of dissent was something that was not a feature of the UPA" .

6.10 pm

Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi starts the conversation on a jovial note. Welcomes Mr.Shashi Tharoor. "Has corruption become a 'swabhaavam' of the Indian governance?", asks Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

Opening the discussion, Shashi Tharoor said "I condemned 1984 when it happened and Babri Masjid as well. The Congress has demonstrated a capacity to own up for its mistakes."

Mr. Tharoor speaks of the hypocrisy how the Prime Minister gave his condolences recently for a man who fasted unto death for his misgivings.

Introduction of dignitaries

The introduction of the dignitaries was given by Dr. Nirmala Lakshman, Director, The Hindu Group. While giving the introductory speech, Ms. Lakshman said "The idea of this annual series is to explore and engage with current critical issues and shine a new light on important subjects from thinkers and public intellectuals."

She also said "At a time when core democratic principles on which this republic has been founded are under assault, when divisiveness and sectarianism are blatantly supported by those in positions of authority and when intimidation and violence are used to silence and stifle dissent, it becomes imperative especially for us in the media to highlight and discuss these trends and to speak truth to power."

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