In a roomful of English speakers with clipped accent from Ivy League universities, 27-year-old Dr. Shah Faesal from Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, evoked a compelling image and ideology of the father of the nation.
Faesal was a panellist, along with top Indian bureaucrats, at ‘Exploring Spaces for Young Indians in Government’, a seminar held at the India International Centre on Saturday to discuss ways to strengthen public-private partnership in governance.
The 2010 Indian Civil Services Examination topper from Kashmir defined Bapu’s socio-political ideals as the signpost towards an attempt to make a change in governance to reach the masses.
Responding to a question by a Harvard-educated MBA participant as to how bright Indian professionals from the country and abroad can impact the process of governance and policy making, Faesal said, “When I was a doctor, I would give Rs. 50/100 from my wallet to a patient if he was unable to fund for his medicines or an X-ray.”
“Then and now as a bureaucrat, I have searched for the answer to a question: How to ensure the government takes care of anybody who might similarly lack money for the fulfilment of his/her basic needs,” he said.
“I believe in the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. He had said we, as policy makers and executors, should always think how is it going to make a difference to the poorest man, the sickest man, who languishes at the bottom of the pyramid?”
Talking about at the private sector’s commitment to social development, Faesal narrated an anecdote: “I was reading Infosys’s co-founder Nandan Nilekani’s book, Imagining India. He wrote that the quality of the roads inside the Infosys campus in Bangalore was brilliant… while the roads outside the campus were in shabby condition.”
“While reading that, I thought, how should the government ensure that the roads inside the Infosys campus and those outside and across the country become brilliant?” he said quietly.
As clapping ringed the air-conditioned, jampacked auditorium, Faesal asserted: “Only the state, the government has the will and capacity to be the vehicle of change, not the private sector. One may not be able to bring a revolution, but can make a substantial difference.”
Anirudh Suri, founder of an NGO Global Young Indian Professionals and Students (GYIPS) and Sayantan Chakravarty, Editor and publisher of the Indian Empire magazine, had organised the seminar as an awareness exercise to launch a two-year fellowship programme — Management and Leadership Fellowship in Government.