Settled in her life in Houston, Texas, 10 years after she moved there, Bhavna Jain (36) was, like the rest of the world, watching India’s growth story closely.
An electronics engineer and management graduate, Jain felt she too wanted to make a contribution. So she returned to India in 2007 with her husband and two sons. A year later, she had joined the Youth Congress “because she felt the need for more people like her to be actively engaged in the democratic process”.
Seated in her plush apartment in Pali Hill, Bandra, Jain and her colleagues in the Youth Congress, Firdosh Kotwal (35) and Virendra Jain (30), tell the same story: Of young, urban, educated professionals joining politics with the hope of making a difference.
“I could have continued with my line of work here,” said Jain, as former director of product management with a title insurance company in the US. “But I wanted to make a significant impact.”
Jain said that the thought of joining a new party or launching one did occur to her.
“But I realised that the key to succeeding in national policy-making is to have a party with organisational strength,” she said. “There are a lot of similarities between the corporate world and politics. Both are about building relationships, managing time, strategising. We hope to bring these elements of our corporate careers into politics.”
Jain, Kotwal and Virendra, all educated in Maharashtra, were here when Mumbai poured out onto the street in anguish after 26/11. They share those sentiments, they said, but decided they join the system and work within it.
“Our middle class is disengaged. That is not how it should be,” said Jain. “If things are not right it is not somebody else’s problem.”
Added Kotwal, a director with an IT consulting firm: “Change at a mass level needs authority.” Kotwal, too, lived and worked in America for nearly a decade. He moved back to India four years ago.
“The state of infrastructure and healthcare here frustrated me,” said Kotwal.
This prompted him to enter politics. The trio chose the Congress because they wanted to join a party that did not believe in “divisive politics”. They are also trying to get more people like themselves to participate.
“These are very positive and constructive people,” said Sunil Ahire, president of Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress.
Virendra and Kotwal divide their time between work and politics; Jain devotes all her time to her “second career”.
So what’s their message to young India? “Politics is not dirty,” smiled Virendra.