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I am weighing my options: Shashi Tharoor

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
February 10, 2007 10:01 IST
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United Nations Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, who failed in his bid to land the top job at the United Nations to succeed Kofi Annan, losing out to South Korea's Ban Ki Moon, has said that while he is not "in a position to announce my final plans now, I have some very interesting possibilities."

In an exclusive interview with, immediately after tendering his resignation on Friday that was accepted by Moon, Tharoor said, "I haven't yet finalised what I will be doing," and noted that "the timing of the announcement leaves me, I am afraid, in the position to tell you that I'll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can tell you what I will be doing." 

"I am still examining certain options and I am not yet ready to go public with any of them, but I am looking forward to new professional challenges," he said, and declared, "To live is to embrace change. That's my approach to all of this."

Tharoor said that he would be continuing in his job as under secretary general for Communications and Public Information for a couple of weeks more as "I still have to wrap up and hand the department over in good order to my successor. So, I will be here for a few more weeks."

Earlier, he had told reporters that "if he (Moon) feels that there is an honourable role for me, then I will continue for another period. Or if there is no meeting of minds, I will leave and continue to support the UN from outside."

Tharoor acknowledged in the interview with that there was certainly more than a tinge of sadness at leaving the UN, which has been his home for nearly three decades. "Inevitably, when you've worked -- as in my case -- almost 29 years, in an organisation, and that too, done it from all the earlier idealism of your first sort of foray into adulthood -- because I joined the UN at 22 -- I've invested all my youthful idealism in this organisation, so, I naturally, feel a very strong sense of commitment to it and identification with it."

"So, leaving is certainly not easy and at some level, I will always take a part of the UN with me in my heart and mind," he said, but added, "having said that, the truth remains, that life does offer interesting possibilities for change at some point," and noted that "whether now or later, I would have wanted to try something different anyway. So, the only question is, I would have some regret about leaving the UN behind and leaving my colleagues behind, who have become like a family to me."

But, Tharoor said, "If I hadn't done it now, I would have done it at some point in the not too distant future. So that sense of regret is tempered by excitement at the interesting possibilities outside."

"And, as I said," he reiterated, "to live is to embrace change, and if one is going to react to every situation of departure from one kind of thing with regret, one is doing oneself a disservice and doing the potential that life offers a disservice."

Tharoor asserted, "I am actually quite upbeat" and despite being pressed, would only disclose that "I am exploring some interesting things and it's quite possible that one or two of the possibilities I am looking at will be of interest to our readers -- to Indians generally."

When asked if the new opportunity he was considering would take him overseas or if he would remain in the US, he said that he was not ready to talk about it until he's finalised which option he would ultimately go with.

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC