Trailblazers: Indian Politician – Ghanshyam Tiwari, EGMP 2005
Ghanshyam Tiwari is the current National Spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party. He has also served as the advisor to the JD (U) government from 2010-15. He has an impressive educational background with an engineering degree from NIT Surathkal, Exec. Course from IIMB and Master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management and Harvard Kennedy School.
His foray into politics was mainly due to the aspirations for a better society, empowering of the weaker masses and to be able to bring positive change. The clarity with which he speaks about his hope for future gives a lot of assurance and belief.
With politicians like Ghanshyam, future of our country looks optimistic and promising.
How and when did you get into active politics?
I grew up with an aspiration to bring about a major change through social initiatives. This aspiration has shaped my career trajectory. Leaving a career in hi-tech engineering, I pursued higher education, first at IIM Bengaluru and thereafter at Kellogg School of Management and finally at Harvard Kennedy School to build a foundation for a career in public service in India. In 2010, Bihar was up for an assembly election. As a student at Harvard, I approached the Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar to work towards building a development-focused campaign. He gave me the opportunity to work on his reelection campaign in a project that I named “Bihar Leadership Project”. After a decisive victory in the election, the Chief Minister invited me to work with him in Bihar as an advisor to the State President of Janta Dal-United (JDU). This marked my beginning into politics. I don’t know how to define ‘active politics’. Over the next five years, I served Bihar by strengthening the policy, politics, and programs of the JDU as well as working with organizations such as the London School of Economics and Gates Foundation.
In 2014, I became Communications Advisor to JDU and later became a Spokesperson of the party, thereby entering the more visible arena of politics. By this time, it became clear to me that politics alone is an insufficient foundation for becoming a changemaker. When images of mass copying in Bihar made national headlines, I decided to take a step away from politics and build a startup focused on high school education especially for the suburban and rural students. The company is called GoodEd Technologies and has offered video-based learning to more than 5 lakh students. In 2017, I was invited by Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Akhilesh Yadav to be a National Spokesperson for Samajwadi Party. This marked a new starting point for my career in politics. In 2019, the party gave me an opportunity to contest in the Loksabha elections in Bihar. The elections gave me an opportunity to clearly announce my public missions for the country, namely, helping every girl in India pass Class 12 and helping the school and college dropout youth find jobs. These two public missions will remain the cornerstone of my politics and startups in the future.
Did you always want to be in politics? What pursued you to enter the field?
My father served the Indian Air Force. I grew up traveling across the country, living in several states, and spending my summers in my village in Bihar. This life experience gradually set my aspiration to do something that will make a significant difference to the life of people, especially the poor. This aspiration shaped my career choices and eventually led me into politics.
Any myths around subject of politics that you would like to debunk?
The greatest myth around politics in India today is that one must join a political party to get going in politics. This may be a carryover from the past. I believe that a good way to join politics today is to think about your public missions – the one or two missions that you want to pursue for the betterment of a cause or community. The next step is to build your public identity through continuous work on these public missions alongside your professional career. Your exposure and public identity will become a permanent foundation to your entry into politics. In this manner, one can enter politics with high integrity, professional strength, and greater sense of security. Another myth is that one must stay away from politics. Politics at the core is a clash of interests in the society. When a group stays away from politics, it loses the opportunity to shape the outcomes. So, either one plays a role in shaping politics or let politics shape one’s life without much control.
What are some social issues close to your heart and how do you perceive your role in addressing it?
I have three major public missions in life.
One, building a nation where every girl completes class 12.
Two, working tirelessly to help the school and college drop out youth find jobs and live with a minimum sense of economic security.
And three, work beyond party lines to enable professionally competent people in politics.
I am addressing the first two missions by building and supporting startups with innovative and scalable models. The third mission is a continuous work of offering guidance and support to anyone with integrity and professional competence seeking to enter politics across party-lines.
Please tell us about your venture GoodEd Technologies? What are the services/ programs offered?
GoodEd stands for Good Educator. The company began with a mission to build a network of great teachers in high school who can teach students across the country in vernacular languages. The company has now pivoted towards offering two products. NEETPrep.com is a video-based online learning platform for students who write the National Entrance Cum Eligibility Test (NEET) to join the MBBS and BDS courses. NEETPrep now has nearly 50,000 students enrolled in various courses and another 200,000 who study free through the portal, YouTube channel, and the app. The company is also building Learner.in as a way to help physical schools get online and enable their students to learn online as well as teachers to teach online. Going forward, the company is looking to raise a Series A and use the investment to build more online programs for high school students.
Any pointers for aspirants who want to enter politics.
One must condition oneself professionally, mentally, financially, and personally before entering politics. Professionally, have a set of skills that give you one set of capabilities to contribute. Mentally, be ready for a marathon where you must have the strength and stamina to work irrespective of public reward. Be ready to stay joyful and positive irrespective of the chaos that you may face in politics. Financially, work your way towards a self-sufficient financial standing for a frugal lifestyle. And personally, be ready for a chaotic family life where you will not have sufficient time and attention for members in the family in due course. With proper conditioning and clear public missions, one can work in politics from a sense of security rather than insecurities.
Your favourite quote.
And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us–recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state–our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:
First, were we truly men of courage
Secondly, were we truly men of judgment
Third, were we truly men of integrity
Finally, were we truly men of dedication
– John F Kennedy
Please visit https://www.neetprep.com/ to know more..