Member of India’s Parliament Tweets Away

A young whippersnapper in India’s Parliament had the nerve to set up a Twitter account, express his opinions through it (even if they didn’t mesh with those of his superiors), accumulate more than 500,000 followers and actually pay attention to their messages and respond to many of them.

Shashi Tharoor, 53, a member of Parliament and a junior minister of foreign affairs, is that young whippersnapper, and he told The New York Times that after initially being reluctant to use Twitter, “I suddenly realized it was both a broadcast medium and an interactive medium.”

According to the Times, one of the country’s news channels scrolled Tharoor’s recent tweets across its screen as “Breaking News,” and Tharoor told the newspaper the microblogging service “is a way of engaging the people to whom all politicians are ultimately accountable in the substance of our work.”

Tharoor and Twitter both have their detractors, however, as Ajit Narayana, an avid Twitter user who is organizing a conference on its use in India later this month, said in an email to the Times, “By constantly associating Twitter with controversies, Indian media will successfully dissuade other politicians from joining the social-networking site.”

And the Times reported that Diptosh Majumdar, national affairs editor at cable news channel CNN-IBN, using a nickname for Tharoor, tweeted, “If Twitteroor feels that virtual reality may help him climb the political ladder faster, he is yet to identify the contours of politics here.”