“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.” ― Roy T. Bennett, in The Light in the Heart.
The story of today’s guest not just exemplifies Bennett’s lines but also illustrates the functionality of aspiration, dedication and grit to walk the tough path for his roots, belief and ideals.
Mr Jayant Chaudhary : The grandson of India’s 5th Prime-minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, The suave US-born and London School of Economics-educated former investment who was often spotted in engaging spirited debates in Parliament and espousing the cause of farmers, civil rights has picked the rough and erratic terrain of Uttar Pradesh politics as his vocation. Why and What we read through the conversation ? Well we through this candid chat with Mr Chaudhary we will try to understand in the lingo we comprehend about the rural landscape of India, its opportunities and challenges. How has been his experience of seeing the world and India from two diverging spectrums of UP’s alleys and the highlands of the west. Through this conversation, we will try to understand what prompted his to understand politics and public life was his calling, leaving a comfortable, successful, high paying career as an investment bank or this is one of the downsides of being born to a highly involved political families. How does he manages the key stakeholders involved and what are his KPIs. His sojourn in politics, his expectations being a part of the system and what are his disillusionments from it as a part of the Gen X Indian. Does it always take a bag full of unaccounted money and big fat cheques to make it large in Indian politics and what is the enigma of the agriculture centric, forward thinking, processive Chaudharis and their huge popularity in the hinterlands of western UP and the Jat lands for 3 generations. And Yes for the political bug inside all of you, well we promise to bring out some exclusive political content from Mr Chaudhari without being at all political throughout the conversation !
Que. In one of your speeches in the Lower House during the FDI bill, you spoke in support of the motion with concern for the marginalised and the need for pragmatic solution As a well-read young Indian leader who comes from a belt where imbalance in distribution of growth is at the national’s peak : How do you see this huge gulf in the distribution of resources and growth between the haves and have-nots ? What is your take and key to solve the difference between India and Bharat ?
Ans: Well it’s a very wide ranging question, I remember my debate on FDI in or country we have certain fundamental socio-governance structure : we are socialistic republic unit. The state plays a larger role in our lives and development as well, unlike other democracies people here have more faith in the state to intervene and this despite us not performing that well in terms of distribution of growth and that is why we have been laggards in various social indies. Looking at it from that perspective yes the popular opinion is always for the state to intervene but when the state intervenes markets for instances if you look at the agriculture market where it has been under tight state control sometimes the intended beneficiaries of such interventions loose out. So for an industry like agriculture, after Covid the Govt is now talking of dismantling APMCs and various dynamic market reforms. Unlike many other countries we as a nation is dependent on agriculture however even today a farmer gets 10-15% of the price of the commodity that a person pays in the city. So the challenge lies how to you enhance the share of the pie of the farmers and how can further vertically integrate the farmers in the value chain, which is why when the FDI bill came up my central objective of supporting in it in a sensitive issue like trade was that with multinational retailers directly sourcing from the farmers will provide them another option and will certainly enhance the pricing power of the farmers. This will without any doubt boost the rural financial ecosystem with the farmers being the vital cog, thus will bring in more distributive growth and share of the GDP.
Que. In one of your interviews you fondly remembers your Grandmother, her love for ice-creams and how different times were back then. How different, impactful and defining was growing up in a house hold that houses a stalwart as tall as Chaudhary Charan Singh ? or How common were few things for you ? Please share some memories and times of your growing up.
Ans: As a child you don’t notice those things as they are part of your everyday normal and every house hold has its own everyday normal. So in my house when my grandfather was alive, there was a lot of bonhomie, there was social gatherings, there was family gatherings, almost every evening at 12- Tughlak Road at Choudhary Sahab’s residence you would have the whole family. Tughlak Road back then had a very open atmosphere. Chaudhary Sahab’s house used to be home for a lot of people from UP who have come to Delhi for some work or studies. As a person my grandfather was inspiring to me to say the least. Lot of tall leaders used to visit him and I as kid has grown up seeing these, being a part of an arrangement where the entire family bonds as one, where decisions impacting the nation were discussed over evening tea with all seriousness, depth cutting across party lines followed by occasional harmless friendly banters. Even after Chaudhary Sahab, biggest leaders have had very intimate interactions with my father too where I have seen them from close quarters and when you see someone that close it tends to leave a mark on you. When I look back at those days I remember them with a lot of fond and probably those are the inspirations and moments that has steered my lifepath and has enabled me to stay connected to my roots which I absolutely love.
Que. You have graduated in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics (LSE) a place where probably many top brains of the nation would envy to read at. At the same time you are connected with your roots, spend sizeable about of time in India amongst people and their problem. You are quite empathetic about them. Despite all these why don’t we get to know much on what you think of Demonetization or the move to privatized state owned enterprises ? And what is you take on the fiscal support package announced by the PM in India’s fight against Covid19 ?
Ans : Absolutely you are right. Social media gives you that opportunity to communicate effectively on everything around. So now I have started up my podcast called ‘J Baat’. But you are right in the sense that in the larger sense if you look at it, the canvas that has been painted with the political hues, we don’t talk about serious as much as we should.
Having said so on the fiscal stimulus package when this global pandemic has struck us, at this point in time what we needed the most was to the government to step in, to have clarity in its planning and communication. Unfortunately the present regime, the RBI, the economic advisor are unwilling to specifically commit on certain timelines or to communicate effectively to the stakeholders. For instance the government is refusing to come out with an estimate of what growth will be or on administrative grounds the scenarios and thinking objectives on further lockdown rounds. So the government’s performance on the critical function of communication has been very disappointing. Policy making has been very adhoc and the government’s plan to get out of this chaos is either missing or very badly communicated. At this point, the government needed to do confidence building, needed to communicate more clearly and in economic terms it needed demand simulation. On the contrary we actually see the Government contracting. We have governments that are cutting salaries, what that signals to the market when then government is afraid of its revenues or that government is not willing to spend, the entire business and financial ecosystem goes to shell lurking at some impending tough times and this is exactly what we as an economy cant afford today. So fiscal cutting corners, reducing expenditures is important but it should not be the tip of the government’s sphere or the main thrust of the communication because that will build fear and everyone will pinch and will think twice about spending and thus will create more holes to an already dilatated demand side.
Que. Coming to UP, the notion of secularism in India is a positive unlike the US and in India we respect the practice of all religion and belief. However religion is a private affair and has to be clearly kept aside from Governance. How do you see the CM of proudly proclaims himself as a Yogi or being clad in an attire that is religious to say the least. What is your take on this ?
Ans: It is deeply problematic and is in direct confrontation with the basic structure of the constitution and openly violates the preamble and the soul of our polity. It still could have been okay if it was limited to his private practice and does not infringe lives of the public. However it is known to the world that he spends a lot of his time in the maath, conducting government’s businesses, chairs crucial meetings from there. Therefore the duality of this role is against the secular fabric and the basic structure of the constitution and this cant be denied.
Que. Western UP is known on one hand for leaders like Sangeet Som, Imran Mashood, Mahesh Sharma etc on one hand and on the other hand it’s a family citadel for someone like you who has not made one hate speech, no instances to divide people on the lines of religion, caste or hate. Yet you have failed to achieve results that you would have loved to in 2017 or even in 2019. Most of the Indians want our politics to be clean and free from criminals on one side and this scenario in western UP. How do you explain this paradox ?
Ans: That is a cycle of change and I think constantly we as public representatives and society should together thrive to improve it. Yes criminality has gone up and sadly this is the new reality since a decade or two. However I am personally very hopeful that this phase shall fade by soon. Through out our course of our republic we have seen such arbitrations like the caste hegemony, the influence of the landed and the aristocratic families, however none of them lasted long and eventually people stood for their rights and voted in people that they believed are the best for their interest and that’s the beauty of Indian democracy. I see this as a phase and somewhere down the line particularly in western UP, the tragic event that took place in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 has given rise to this anomaly where people are thriving with such antics and this makes us even more responsible to stick to our values and ideals and bring them back to the normal discourse.
Que. How does elections and their outcomes impact life away from the people, news and headlines ? How do you cope up with it ? How is the bonhomie within the present young leaders of our times : the likes of the Rahul Gandhis, the Sachin Pilots, the Akhilesh Yadavs, the Supriya Sules and the Jayant Chaudharys keeping aside the politics of the ground?
Ans: Politics is not an easy thing, it’s a complex thing. It is not an one issue horse, many things do add up in totality and formulate the end result. At times, it is quite draining and that’s when your purpose for public life comes handy. During tough electoral times one has to be extremely positive and constantly keep learning things and evolving. Unwinding and spending a week or two with your family, friends and pursuing a hobby to keep me fresh and I have friends both political and apolitical with whom I share a really old bond. Among the political leaders of my age group and the names you mentioned, I share quite nice rapport differing with personalities for sure. Among the names you took, I am probably the youngest – there is and has to be a sense of formality in every professional relation you share and I have an open communication with all of them. They all are extremely grounded, humble individuals with their own stories and have seen the world through many lens and experiences and yes one can learn and evolve oneself by gaining the positives out of those experiences.
Que. What is your take on the congress as India’s primary opposition party at the moment and how do you see it both from a political leader’s perspective and as an Indian ?
Ans: Indian National Congress – The grand old party of India, at one point of time Chaudhary sahab was in congress, my father was also in congress for some time and then of course Chaudhary was also the greatest adversary of congress and led the whole non congress movement, Janta party and emergence of an alternative. So I have seen them from very close quarters and they have a tremendous history which cannot be denied. Even today if you look at it, they have a lot of talent in congress. From where I see it, I believe there has been a lot of over centralization of congress and it is been plagued with a lot of organizational issues at the middle layer. They still enjoy faith and love of many people at the ground and they have some really amazing talented leaders at the top. However they somehow need to fix their mid-level organizational issues and find ways for the top leaders to directly connect with their present and lost support base by strengthening their federal state polity. As the largest opposition party, yes they do have a really big role to play and need to take on the present government on issues of economy, culture, administration, public health and other concerning the common mass of the land with a diverse leadership of ten smart people who are better listeners or who don’t have the arrogance of the BJP. At the same time I strongly believe its time that the regional parties needs to be more cohesive and be more proactive with congress or otherwise in national polity rather than simply trying to hold our own regional strongholds and come up with a structured comprehensive alternative narrative of inclusive growth and national interest.
Que. What are the top 3 most used applications on your phone ?
Ans: Well I am no expert in technology though I have a decent exposure to it and in today’s post data explosion age gadgets and applications have become an essential part of our lives. In this quarantine phase I am learning python, the coding language. Other than that three applications that I use most frequently, one definitely has to be Twitter – I use it a lot, in fact that’s my primary source of news these days, then Medium – I use it for in-depth readings on various issues and third would be Instagram – Its fun and a nice medium to share your world view through photos and graphics. Certainly its today’s fast paced world pictures speaks 1000 words and more.
Que. One final question, How does Jayant Choudhary wants him to be remembered or addressed by the youth of the Western UP today ? What role you wish to play for them and if you have any specific message for them.
Ans : Well right now I don’t have a public office to much on a broader scale however on specifics I have been associated with various socially relevant projects and doing my best to impact or guide as many lives for the good as much as possible. However given a chance to intervene at a more fundamental level of governance addressing the biggest challenge of western UP in particular and India at large of that of creating a sustainable job market for both our skilled and unskilled workforce will be my primary priority. There are so much talent in the small towns, tehsils and villages of India, I will be privileged if I can play a role channelizing that for the better and mentor them in what so manner I can. Socially I will be liked to be remembered as a good person, being a good humanitarian irrespective of office. Chaudhary Charan Singh ji’s personality or what my father has achieved in his long political career in their times and circumstances is always an inspiration for me but that too large shoes to be filled. So a personal note I wish to be remembered by people as a good human, empathetic, someone who had his heart at the right place and always strive to create a difference irrespective of public office, times and situations in life and politics.
The Editors Take : India is due of a political overhaul where sycophancy, mediocrity and hypocrisy is replaced with empathy, merit and integrity. An arrangement where the electoral can hold the elected accountable to their concerns. India’s present political parties arrangement has passed its expiry date plagued with age old ideas, extremely complicated or virtual no decisive decision making tenacity and a complete submission to cronies. A new political order and socio political evolution cutting across parties is long due. The interaction with Mr Jayant was extremely heart-warming, more so not only coming from the National Vice-President of RLD but also a free thinking well educated Indian who is equally aspirational and rooted as an average Indian will be. More politically relevant, the candidness in which he aspects his shortcomings yet at the same time not only showed the interest or the mettle to walk the tough path but also the tenacity with which he wants the regional parties to be more cohesive, being more proactive in formulating a comprehensive vision and narrative for a young, vibrant and inclusive India. With educated, experience, empathetic young guards like Jayant Chaudhary in the ranks of the opposition who understands his own short comings and the present regime’s and at the same time concedes the need of present a comprehensive alternative vision? Only time and probably 2022 will be a dress rehearsal to how composite will India’s opposition parties be and how well these young educated more than a generation political lineages of India present her the political evolution she deserves. Till then it is very much, an everyone’s guess !