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The UN veteran with global contacts

"I would say that it(India) is a giant, which has awoken," maintains India's man.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 19:35 IST

With India backing Shashi Tharoor, UN Under Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, for the post of secretary general, it has decided to throw its weight behind a man whose long association with the world body and wide contacts make him a strong contender.

Tharoor, 50, has worked for the United Nations for the last 28 years, serving initially with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Singapore.

Since 1989, he has been a senior official at UN headquarters in New York, where, until late 1996, he was responsible for peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia.

Educated in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and the United States, Tharoor, who hails from the southern state of Kerala, received his doctorate at the age of 22 from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

For nearly a year-and-a-half, Tharoor was appointed as executive assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan before taking his assignment as director communications and special projects in the office of the Secretary-General in July 1998.

Four years back, he was confirmed as the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

His specific duties include focusing on the UN's communications strategy, with particular emphasis on the effectiveness of the organisation's external message.

In September last year, when he visited Delhi, Tharoor refused to comment whether he would be a contender for the top job in the world body.

"Well, it's too early to say anything on that now," he toldthe agencythen.

But Tharoor did say that India is no longer perceived by the world community as a sleeping giant, but as a giant that is already on the move though yet to gather speed.

"The world's perception about India is that it could be doing a lot more and
a lot faster."

"India is not sleeping anymore. I would say that it is a giant, which has
awoken but (is) not really into its stride," Tharoor told the agency.

Besides his stupendous rise in the UN, Tharoor wears many other hats and is the author of eight books and the winner of several journalism and literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Some of his notable books include Reasons of State (1982), a scholarly study of Indian foreign policy and The Great Indian Novel (1989), a political satire, as well as a biography of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In January 1998, he was named"Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.