A Different Journey
It was sometime in 2009 that I started off on a track that took me to the periphery of politics. I wanted a better India, and thought BJP to be best suited to deliver it. From 2012 to 2014, I worked silently and in the shadows via Niti Digital to help the BJP get a majority on its own. I thought my job was done in 2014 and India would march forward on a path to prosperity. Soon thereafter, I realised that was probably not going to be the case. My work as a political and prosperity entrepreneur was not done. And so I went back to the drawing board trying multiple ideas to change minds and channel votes for a movement I termed Nayi Disha. I failed, and shut it down in early 2019.
For almost 10 years, I had applied my entrepreneurial ideas to see if we could change India’s trajectory. On the flight back from San Francisco to Mumbai (via Delhi) in February 2019, as I reflected on the past few years, I realised I had succeeded in one mission (helping bring the BJP to power) but failed in the second mission (to bring freedom and prosperity to a billion Indians). A friend was blunt in his assessment – I had been a complete failure, and not left one single legacy or institution to positively impact India’s future. It was the brutal truth.
A decade gone by just like that. The journey has left me with many learnings, friendships and experiences. The outcome was disappointing, but the ride had its own daily delights. I explored a new world, I learnt about the ways of politicians, I learnt about economics and public choice. A decade ago names like Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan and Milton Friedman meant nothing to me. Thanks to pointers from my friend Atanu Dey, I have read their writings which has in turn influenced how I see the world. I am a better person for it. I am disappointed that the eventual outcome was not what I had wanted, but I am glad I went on the journey.
I have always tried new things in my life. When I was working at NYNEX in White Plains, a suburb of New York. I was asked to go to San Jose for a meeting. Instead of the usual flight, I decided to take the train. Grand Central station in New York City to Oakland (in California) via Chicago. Three days. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. The beauty of America, the long conversations with other travellers, the sense of timelessness, the idea of doing different things. I have tried to do that most of my life. Different journeys, with the same mindset. Of a person seeking the new.