Shashi Tharoor ( Born 9 March 1956 in London) was the official candidate of India for the succession to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006, and came second out of seven official candidates in the race. Tharoor served as the UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information between June 2002 and February 2007. He is an author, journalist, and fellow of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Tharoor is an Indian national, from the state of Kerala.
Since 1978, Tharoor has been working for the United Nations, serving with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whose Singapore office he headed during the "boat people" crisis.
Since October 1989, he has been a senior official at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where, until late 1996, he was responsible for peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia.
From January 1997 to July 1998, he was executive assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
In July 1998, he was appointed director of communications and special projects in the office of the Secretary-General.
In January 2001, he was appointed by the Secretary-General as interim head of the Department of Public Information.
On 1 June 2002, he was confirmed as the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information. In this capacity, he is responsible for the communication strategy, enhancing the image and effectiveness of the UN.
In 2003, the Secretary-General appointed him United Nations Coordinator for Multilingualism.
Resigned from the post of Under Secretary General on the 9th of February 2007.
Tharoor has written numerous books in English. Most of his literary creations are centered around Indian themes and they are markedly "Indo-nostalgic". Perhaps his most famous work is The Great Indian Novel, published in 1989, in which he uses the narrative and theme of the famous Indian epic Mahabharata to weave a satirical story of Indian life in a non-linear mode with the characters drawn from the Indian Independence Movement. His novel Show Business (1992) was made into the film Bollywood (1994). The late Ismail Merchant had announced his wish to make a film of Tharoor's novel Riot shortly before Merchant's death in 2005.
Tharoor writes a fortnightly column for The Hindu newspaper since 2001 and a weekly column, "Shashi on Sunday", in the Times of India starting January 2007. Previously he was a columnist for the Gentleman magazine and the Indian Express newspaper, as well as a frequent contributor to Newsweek International and the International Herald Tribune. His op-eds and book reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, amongst other papers.
Tharoor began writing at the age of 6 and his first published story appeared in the "Bharat Jyoti" in Mumbai at age 10. His World War-II adventure novel Operation Bellows, inspired by the Biggles books, was serialized in the Junior Statesman starting a week before his 11th birthday.