Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shashi Tharoor on Twitter

Follow Shashi Tharoor @

The ministry of external affairs is all a-Twitter. Not because Indian diplomats have become net savvy, but one of the new ministers of state is a frequent user of this social networking web tool.

Shashi Tharoor, a UN diplomat-turned-politician, has been tweeting since March 17 and used it as a communication tool during the poll campaign.

"In Kerala" was his first tentative tweet, which has now graduated to more expansive posts, recounting his tryst from becoming a MP to being a minister.

"And still one more dinner to go, with a section of the diplomatic corps at the splendidly renovated Hyderabad House. A real showcase bldg," he said June 2.

Interestingly, social networking sites are blocked from the ministry's computer network - a result of a cautious policy to prevent foreign intrusions.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the Tharoor posts after taking over as the minister have been sent from his Blackberry, using a mobile client for Twitter.

Though there had been some tweets directly sent from twitter's web interface, but most of them were sent late at night, usually after midnight. "First dinner by EAM for diplomatic corps. back on a beat i thought i'd left when i quit the UN. But better food here! spoke French after yrs," he tweeted at 12.29 a.m. June 2.

Right now, Tharoor has 4,511 people following him on Twitter. But he follows only two - his son, Kanishka and close aide, Jacob Joseph Puthen.

Incidentally, Tharoor had also linked to Rahul Gandhi's official Twitter account - But the account has been withdrawn from last week, with only a page displaying "That page doesn't exist!".

Several members of the ministry have also signed up on twitter to follow their minister of state. Though, they can't log on to the website directly from work, they have activated their account to receive the tweets on their mobile phones.

The ministry had issued instructions to its members banning any blogs or using of Facebook or Orkut, as part of its cybersecurity guidelines.

Tharoor's boss, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna also has a twitter account, but the last post was April 17.

His first tweet March 20 was a plea for help - "trying to understand this twitter. so what should i do now?" Krishna's post increased in confidence.

There was a slew of tweets till March 24, before a long hiatus and a last post April 17. "I asked my assistant to book me a nano. when is booking open? i think we can do a karnataka tour in the nano," Krishna noted March 22.

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