For me the biggest tragedy in the Shash Tharoor episode is the lose of hope it symbolises for a certain type of educated Indian, to join politics. In him there was this whiff of the old nostalgia of what Rajeev Gandhi's entry into politics meant for the middle classes of India. Somehow we all felt vindicated that the English educated college graduate chaap, was not something that alienated us anymore from the majority of India.
The difference however with Shashi Tharoor's entery into politics was that he did not come with the baggage of a family legacy, and so for many of us he represented the aspirations of what hard work and career planning could achieve.
The double tragedy is :
a) If it is proven that he is guilty of the misuse of the powers of office, and that he compromised his official position for financial personal gains from this affiliation of interest with the Kochi IPL bidding, he alleges he was only mentoring; then he establishes by his conduct that all entries into politics will somehow always automatically become corrupted, from self interest.
b) If it is proven that he merely miscalculated and mis-read the working of systems within Indian politics, and that this controversy resulted because of being a novice to the game of political strategies that a complex multi-party democracy demands; then here too he becomes emblematic of the assumption many make, that the middle class educated Indian would be ill equipped to handle contributing to the political system of governance. His immaturity, despite being a diplomat for so many years, is surely going to concretize this myth; and so what Shashi Tharoor stood for, for many of us, now becomes a pipe dream and we become tainted by the shadow of his stupidity.
It will become the dreaded taunt for many of us to live with, that merely being educated and articulate does not prove you have the where-with-all to contribute to change. Perhaps our hope now rests completely on the performance of Nandan Nilekani of Infosys fame, to re-kindle the belief that the ordinary middle class citizen has the potential to bring value to political governance in India. I am keeping my fingers crossed!