Nupur Sharma is one of the youngest leaders and the Official Spokesperson of BJP’s Delhi Unit. A litigating lawyer by profession at the Supreme Court of India she is often seen extrapolating her party’s views on various TV news channels and also contributes to various publications.
She was awarded the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Ladies Organisation’s Young Woman Achiever Award (2015-2016), Women Economic Forum’s Iconic Woman Leader Award (2016-2017) and Young Politician of the Year Award at the National Change-makers’ Conclave (2017-2018).
In February 2018, Nupur was invited by the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School’s “India Conference 2018” as a Speaker on “Disruptive Innovations: Youth in Politics”.
Legal Bites couldn’t have missed the opportunity to have a conversation with the lady. Here are some moments from the interview conducted by our CEO Mayank Shekhar.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you have an Economics (Hons.) from Delhi University. Had you prior to joining college decided that you wanted to step into politics? What was it like for you?
Nupur Sharma: I did my BA Hons. in Economics from Hindu College and my second degree after that was an LLB from the Faculty of Law. The Law Faculty is a very charged up college. The environment is absolutely political. The greatest of protests and campaigns have started from there. You’d remember the anti-reservation or be it the emergency campaign, they were the first people to have actually broken the curfew back in the 1970s. So, with such a charged up environment, it was actually difficult to stay away from politics.
Some of my classmates from Hindu College who were then doing other Masters Programmes contacted me and suggested that I should join politics. They said that since I was so vocal about my thoughts and very argumentative too, I should do it. And so I did.
But, I was clear about my ideology. I was always towards the right of center. I, in fact, don’t know what right is. The jury out there is still deciding what is the right wing and the left. I have always been conservative in my thoughts regarding the policies, especially the economic policies that the country should be made of.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, with the changing paradigms of Education in the world, what difference in Education have you experienced with the transition from Delhi University to London School of Economics?
Nupur Sharma: In the West, you’re absolutely on your own. When you’re doing a research degree, you’re not spoon-fed. Not to say that you’re spoon-fed here either because you’re largely left to your own resources, but, in the kind of a research that is required out of a student – there lies a huge gap. I think that needs to be overcome.
The idea also is that we are a country that is used to shortcuts. So, while research is required in India as well, there are people who have come out with guidebooks and summaries, which makes it easier for us to clear our exams. However, in the UK, it is nothing like that, more so in the Masters Degree Programmes. Original thoughts are really valued there and you don’t have a lot of guidance, per se, however, even in the Socratic method, they expect you to have read your material beforehand. The 100-200 pages long judgments are expected to be read well and to be well-prepared for class. A class there goes on for around 2 hours and is more like a tutorial – therefore, you are presumed to have read almost everything. In case, you haven’t read the study material beforehand for class, in all possibilities, you will be lost.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, Politicians always face the wrath of the media in ways of controversies and unnecessary media paparazzi. How important are these in the course of the profession such as that of a Politician?
Nupur Sharma: Absolutely. Media is also important in all aspects. However, vice versa, I think nowadays it is the Media who is facing the wrath of the politicians and the general public. More of the general public, if I must say. This is because of some of the unnecessary indulgences or interventions by media in policy aspects of a government are irritating the general public a lot.
Media cannot be a lobbyist and lobbying anyway is illegal in India. And we have seen in the recent past how the media has behaved like a lobbyist for its own personal gain, it’s political gain – because many of the media houses have their own political ideologies that they want to favor. And have outcomes favor one political party or one political faction over another.
Therefore, I believe that this extra power that we give to the media should also be controlled in the sense that not by a government or a directive action to control it. But, if there is a trust deficit, it should remain and there should probably be a third front – like for example – the social media plays a very active role in questioning what the mainstream media (MSM) is doing wrong. So such a corrective or controlling or check and balance provided by the social media is also necessary. When you’re being democratic you have to be absolutely democratic.
Legal Bites: As a youth leader for a political party, what would you suggest are the deeds that an enthusiast needs to undertake to make a career in Politics – starting from University or College days?
Nupur Sharma: You need to be educated about actually what you need to follow, in the sense that, your ideology should be clear in your head. A lot of people I know see it as a means to an end – a political career. But I feel that only those people who passionately follow their ideology and are clear about it – have a vision. And a vision is necessary to ensure that you can lead. Without a vision, you cannot lead. You cannot ask questions without a vision. An educated opinion is most necessary for a vision.
Have a powerful voice. It could be difficult to communicate but make yourself heard.
And to come out very successfully to the general public, you need to have the related talents as well. You need to be a good orator. You should command respect when you speak. A lot of people can have a loud voice but still cannot command the attention of an audience. A lot of people have a clear voice but may not be clear about what they are speaking of. So one needs to be aware of what’s happening. Clarity of mind is equally necessary for a very streamlined vision. A leader should lead the people in the right direction and not downhill. A couple of other things such as a dynamic personality, and the ability to sacrifice. Sacrifice is the litmus test which will decide whether you could be a successful politician or not.
To say that it is hunky dory, no. It is the most competitive, the most stressful and the most blood-sucking career there is. And I feel that if you are willing to make the sacrifice and if you have the stomach to accept the brick bangs which are mostly more in numbers than the bouquets, then enter it and just keep going ahead. Don’t let anything pull you down.
Legal Bites: Why is it that we are seeing a lot of young leaders such as you but still the image of a politician is not being polished?
Nupur Sharma: I believe, in fact, a popular journalist in her book said that it helped for a politician to keep the majority of the population uneducated and illiterate. That meant that by keeping them less aware you always made them feel less privileged, you could always sound condescending that you as a leader knew more, you could always draw a line of demarcation between the haves and the have-nots, while you were the privileged haves. And that ensured that you could fool the public who was not generally aware of its rights. Even a lot of lawyers don’t know how many laws and statutes there are but still, we are better off.
I’m glad that one of our MP’s in December 2017’s winter session of the Parliament raised the question of having a necessary National Population Policy in place. We need to make sure that there are some checks and balances, we need to have a country that is prosperous, has a proper growth of population – not a skewed growth of population. I would urge through you to please hear out our MP’s 35-40 minute speech on how our population is growing disproportionately and why we need to have a check and balance. His simple idea was that anybody with more than two children should not be allowed to contest elections. Let’s start with that.
I would say education anyway is compulsory. We have Right to Education (RTE) but how successful is that? Is literacy necessary education? No. Literacy necessarily is not education. To educate somebody you need to make sure that a person is worldly wise and exposed to the nuances of not only the kind of education that you want to impart them but are in a position to have their own mindset to decide for themselves. Most often they’re not. Classrooms are there to improve your ability if you can thwart that to make an individual mindset of yourself then that would actually be called education.
A conviction would come with your passion to serve. There are two things. You should make sure that you are not there for selfish reasons. Those people who enter for selfish reasons are exposed sooner or later and we as the general public, I must say, that we are a very selfish race. To compete with one another with the fixed resources that you have and when you fight for the bigger chunk of the resource, it automatically makes you selfish. And some people who come to power for their personal and selfish reasons is why we see – earlier Prime Ministers – without naming – since we were hardly in power I can say that leaders of the opposition party and Prime Ministers themselves find them in the midst of corruption scandals, because your selfish concerns to earn for your kith and kin overrode your sacrificial quality of wanting to serve.
My question today is to all the aspiring young leaders of the country – whether you’d be as sacrificing as Mr. Narendra Modi? He doesn’t live with his family in the PM Residence, he sleeps for just about 4 hours in a day and has tonnes of RTIs filed on him. Does he have a family? No. He sacrificed all his personal happiness for the service of the country and that is what a leader should be capable of doing.
In today’s day, in the Right to Information (RTI) day and age where the mainstream media can be checkmated by the social media where information is easily available, one should make sure that your sacrificial quality overrides your selfish quality to become a leader. Now India is changing. People like us and people like yourselves, who have the discerning quality to differentiate between right from wrong can actually call the bluff of those people who are fooling other people in the name of being a dynamic leader.