Shashi Tharoor is not new to books. He has been a bestselling author now for decades. While we hear him a lot on the idea of India what we don’t hear him enough on is his growing up and his mother’s influence on him.
Tharoor talks about his mother’s influence on him as a child which helped him understand feminism in a better way.
Growing up so many years ago, having a mother who was so independent in her thought, how did it influence you as a child? How did it help you to challenge the gender stereotypes, so many of them, which are there in our society?
“I grew up with strong women, I have not only my mother but two sisters who were brought up, in some ways, as a combination of my mother and my father. They had some of my father’s sort of compassion and sort of, humaneness and liberalism but they also had my mother’s drive and my mother’s impatience, and my mother’s ability to get things done.”
He aded that he was a “one token man in a household of strong women.” Growing up, the politician only knew empowerment and he mentioned that the place his family hailed from, was a major contributor to their attitudes towards feminism. Shashi Tharoor acknowledged that his parents came from Kerala, where women had a significant place in the society as most communities are matriarchal, which made it easier for him psychologically to accept the empowerment of women.
“I make no apologies for being a feminist, it just came quite naturally,” he accepted as he reminiscing about his grandmother who was widowed at a young age and managed the entire household while raising her children as well. “Seeing her, seeing my mother and growing up with my sisters, I had absolutely no difficulty in feeling an enormous amount of respect and admiration for women as authority figures and not just as women.”
How is the committee on safety and privacy that you are heading ensuring that women are getting privacy they need online, because we regularly see this morphing of pictures, and other kinds of harassment that women face?
Emphasising the role of individual vigilance and cyber safety education, Shashi Tharoor mentioned that an educated userbase is a better answer to tackle the cyber-crimes against women and children than heavy-handed regulations from the government itself. However, he also remarked that if the violations persist, they need to be handled firmly in order to avoid the internet becoming an unsafe environment for the vast majority.
Referring to the technological challenges that enable people to morph images and videos, he mentioned, “You can’t uninvent technology, all you can do ultimately then is to prevent yourself from being taken in by the fakes out there and as an institution, as a government, as authorities, discourage these things from flourishing in your own country.”
Explaining the reason behind the inefficiency of campaigns regarding online safety, Tharoor emphasised on people’s own interest in the safety campaign saying, “If people will ignore the safety campaign and spend more time looking at the online images they want to look at or being mislead by the fake news that comes to their screens, then what can anyone do about it.”
Joining politics is worthwhile because…
“Because in a democracy, it’s still the best and most impactful way of making a difference in larger people.” He mentioned discussing the role of politics in making a difference in the society. “Being in politics not only gives me a larger platform to reach people, but potentially allows me to influence the ones who actually make the decisions and the policies that actually affects the lives of people.”