November 17, 2020
My maternal great-grandfather was Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s law partner. During partition, people wanted him to migrate as well. But he wanted to remain in India as he felt his religion shouldn’t be the reason to leave his country. And so he stayed. He was joined by one part of my family from Pakistan who came as Hindu refugees. The other half of my family were Muslims who refused to go to Pakistan. I also had family all across Europe. So obviously, I grew up in a multi-cultural set-up where I learned the importance of understanding and connecting despite differences.
My father, who I am deeply inspired by, passed away early on. He was an industrialist as well as a people’s leader. I remember when some people from a nomadic community came to ask father for help regarding a water shortage issue. He went out of his way to resolve their issue. That’s when I realised that you don’t need a title in front of your name to help people. My father’s values, his ideals & how my life changed after his death made me decide to join politics.
This was especially reinforced by what my mother and I faced after my father’s untimely death. Industry big-wigs who knew father suddenly started ignoring and treating us poorly. My mother was terrified about our future. I decided then that I had to do something with my life, something unconventional, so that people can’t ignore me. I wanted to excel so that I could help people just like my father did.
Once I decided I wanted to join politics, Congress was an obvious choice. In 2016, after studying at Warwick & an internship at the UN, Dr. Shashi Tharoor asked me to work with him even though I was only 24. So I started helping him with parliamentary work. As I started frequenting Parliament, I realised that I could hustle. I found myself talking to senior leaders like Rahul Gandhi, officers, MPs, their PAs- building relationships that become functional partnerships.
Sometime in 2017, Dr. Tharoor shared a paper on how we could bring in working professionals into the party and leverage their education, skills and experience. I was the perfect example- I have no background in politics and this is the only party I can think of where I could have found a place. Rahul Gandhi liked the idea and 2-3 months later, I found myself sitting with him giving a presentation on how to set up AIPC.
One thing led to another and I became a political secretary to Dr. Tharoor in which is my current designation in addition to my role in AIPC. It’s honour and privilege, the Indian National Congress is a Palimpsest of people, cultures and ideas. To think I serve in the same party as Nehru ji, Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Azad ji, and so many other stalwarts, gives me a sense of pride that is impossible to explain. Before the pandemic, my work with AIPC saw me constantly travelling, meeting professionals, understanding their concerns, trying to convince them that what unites us is a lot stronger than what divides us and that we need to work together to build a more tolerant, more liveable India.
In the future, I hope to win an election and sit alongside Dr. Tharoor in the Parliament along with other giants of the INC, so that we can help the people together. Not just those that agree with us, but all people. That is my dream.