Shashi Tharoor (born 9 March 1956) is an Indian politician, writer and a former career international diplomat who is currently serving as Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, since 2009. He also currently serves as Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and All India Professionals CongressHe was previously Minister of State in the Government of India for External Affairs (2009–2010) and Human Resource Development (2012–2014). Tharoor is a member of the Indian National Congress and served as an official spokesperson for the party from January to October 2014. Until 2007, he was a career official at the United Nations, rising to the rank of Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information in 2001. He announced his retirement after finishing second in the 2006 selection for U.N. Secretary-General to Ban Ki-moon.Tharoor is an acclaimed writer, having authored 18 bestselling works of fiction and non-fiction since 1981, which are centred on India and its history, culture, film, politics, society, foreign policy, and more related themes. He is also the author of hundreds of columns and articles in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek, and The Times of India. He was a contributing editor for Newsweek International for two years. From 2010 to 2012, he wrote a column in The Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle and, for most of 2012, until his appointment as Minister, a column in Mail Today; he also writes an internationally syndicated monthly column for Project Syndicate. He also wrote regular columns for The Indian Express (1991–93 and 1996–2001), The Hindu (2001–2008), and The Times of India (2007–2009).