In August I spoke about Sikkim at the sixth Beyond Borders Festival of Literature and Thought. A recording of the session in the wonderful chapel at Traquair House is available below and on Youtube. I was interviewed by Sir Kieran Prendergast, the former British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Kenya and Turkey who later became Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at the United Nations between 1997 and 2005.
Beyond Borders is a unique Festival, held over a single weekend in the grounds of Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest inhabited building which is still family home to Catherine Maxwell-Stuart and her husband Mark Muller-Stuart. The setting makes for an event of remarkable intimacy.
The Festival is described as a ‘ platform for Small Nation Dialogue and Cultural Exchange’. During the rest of the year the Beyond Borders team run a number of international projects focused on strategic policy development on cross border issues around the world.
Highlights at the 2015 Festival included Alex Salmond sparring with James Naughtie, a more congenial discussion between Nicola Sturgeon and Alan Little and a brilliant talk on the 1715 Jacobite rising from Murray Pittock.
None of them, however, could compete with the irrepressible Indian MP Shashi Tharoor who was interviewed by William Dalrymple. Having been passed over for the top job at the UN in favour of Ban Ki-moon, Tharoor returned to India in 2008. He is now one of the Congress Party’s leading politicians. His careful navigation of questions on Rahul Gandhi, Modi and many other matters indicates that this engaging 59-year-old still harbours high political ambitions.