MEET MS. NEHA JOSHI: A YOUNG POLITICAL LEADER GIVING VOICE TO WOMEN
A social activist, a woman leader and an inspiration to millions of youth, currently works as a spokesperson for the BJP.
Persistence, empowerment, and love for her country is the essence of the personality Ms. Neha Joshi is.
CLIQTAX Team connected with Ms. Neha Joshi for an enriching interview, in which she talked about women in politics, and about the key to success for every seeker of their goals.
CT: How did you get your inspiration, to join politics?
NJ: “Actually my father is also a politician. He’s a first-generation politician, he was in the army, and then he had to leave for medical reasons and then later, he joined the BJP and served the party for many years before he got the ticket, and, then got elected. He is the third-time member of the Legislative Assembly in Uttarakhand. He is a very senior leader of BJP in Uttarakhand. But I’ve been watching him work since I was a child.
He really wanted me to go for civil services, but I just felt that, being a politician, you can do so much more, if you have the right intention. And, as it is, I think it’s very important that educated people, specially educated women, come into politics, because, you know we keep talking about women empowerment and about how the budget should be women-sensitive and politicians should be women-sensitive, but you see very few women in policy-making.
Even in the Lok Sabha, I think we have the highest percentage of women in Parliament so far but it’s still a merely fourteen percent. So that needs to be change, that will only happen when people start taking a little more risk. It is not a very comfortable career.”
CT: What are the challenges you face as a woman in politics?
NJ: The challenges are many. Women politicians have a very hard time. It’s a male-dominated field and we get our advantages too, because, there are such few women, when we do good work we get recognised also very easily. But then the thing is, that you have to compete with men after all and men who have basically dominated the political discourse of the country.
And, any party that you look at, for example, from the Congress Party there was a woman who was the Prime Minister, the Congress National President has been a woman, but how many women leaders have they cultivated?
That’s true to all parties, you don’t see many women leaders. All the women leaders you see are mostly self-made. Look at Smriti Irani, Poonam Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj, they are all self-made women. I think for women politicians, definitely the challenges are more. But I think once you start doing it and once you start getting recognition, it’s also very satisfying to see the kind of impact that you can have.
And, I would say, that things are changing, even men are getting more supportive. They are not yet comfortable with women having it all in politics but they are realising that you can’t ignore them in leadership.”
“There are so many like me, i wouldn’t even for a minute assume that it’s me who is doing outstanding work or something. There are so many and across parties who are doing a lot of good work. So, I think it’s also about women supporting women, so i am a huge advocate of that.
We need to really support each other and that’s the department where i think women really need to work a lot. We always feel like that there’s only one seat on the table for the women and they got to compete for it. However, what we actually need to work for is creating more seats for women.
So, it’s not just one seat and five women competing for, why not have five seats for women? That’s what i am working towards, creating more places for women rather than vying for that one space and competing with every woman in the world for that.”
CT: Please tell us something about your NGO.
NJ: “All the organisations that i have come across in my career are the best in terms of the sincerity of their work. If you give them a rupee, they’ll spend two rupees. So, they’ll put it from their own pockets and they do fantastic work.
I run two organisations, one is iLead, in which we are working to develop women leadership. So, i am not interested in being the only woman leader, but what i want to do is, create more women leaders.
With that intention, i and my colleague, Aditi Chaturvedi, started iLead last year and what we are working towards is that pan-India we are identifying and creating a network of women who want to be leaders in their own field.
Not just political leaders but wherever they are, whether in corporate sector, non-profit, or whichever sector, that they want to emerge as leaders there. We are trying to create this network of connecting them, we work with a lot of self-help groups, and provide them mentors, so that the groups can do better.
Through iLead, we work only on women leadership. There’s another organisation that i run in Dehradun, in the name of Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Ji. Through that organisation, i do a lot of work at the local level, work around the environment.
So, every year we do a plantation campaign in the monsoon, so that’s going to start soon. Today is World Menstrual Hygiene Day, so we are distributing sanitary napkins across the state, and all through the lockdown we have been distributing ration and running a community kitchen, and we provide scholarships to students, so we do multiple things.
It actually started as a charity, but now we are expanding to do some project-based work also.”
CT: What would your message to the youth be?
NJ: “My message to all is trying to do anything in life would be to be persistent. A lot of value is placed on new ideas and ideas are important, however, I feel what is more important is being persistent in pursuing those ideas.
I see a lot of young people around me, they come up with something, they’ll jump to something else and then something else. And you know there are so many distractions. There are so many new things coming up every day.
At one point everybody wants to be a YouTuber, at another everybody wants to be a social media influencer. So, i think it’s very easy to get caught up in these things, i think the real you are in persistence.
So, after a point nobody cares who is the first one to do it, it’s about who is still doing it. Obviously, ideas have their own value but I think people need to have a little more patience because I think our generation tends to seek instant gratification.
This is something that my father always says, that never be in anything for instant gratification.
As soon as you’re looking for anything instant, you have no sight of the future. So, you immediately want a reward while the reward may actually come in a few years. And in a field like politics especially, if anyone is trying to make it there, you have to be very, very patient.
So, anybody looking for instant gratification can end up being flash in the pan. Be persistent in whatever you do.”
CT: Do you have any other future plans other than politics, though we assume that you will persist in this career itself?
NJ: This is what i wanted to do since i was in school. So, there’s no two ways about it. I have a professional career also. I am a consultant with the Ministry of Petroleum, for the Ujjwala Scheme for the past three years. So, i have been working as a consultant for about five years now and i worked on World Bank Projects, with the State Government of Uttarakhand, i’ve worked with the Central Government, all that is there.
But i always knew that politics is what i want to do. All of this keeps me professionally engaged and also it helps me earn, because I don’t want to earn from politics. Today it is not enough to just be a politician. You have to have another identity… Ek alag pehchaan bhi honi chahiye… You have much more respect.
My experience of being in the field, with Ujjwala I have travelled across the country, to almost all the states. I have been to tribal areas, Kashmir, just understanding how the scheme is working on the ground and providing details to the government.
It just makes you richer experientially. Again, to anybody who is entering politics i would say, also have something else, that enriches you and it increases your depth of knowledge.”
The interaction with Ms. Neha Joshi was a great opportunity for the CLIQTAX Team, and we wish she succeeds all her future ventures. We surely need more women leaders like her and we hope she continues to inspire those leaders we wish to have.