The sky is not the limit: Syed Asad Abbasby Vinta Nanda October 12 2021, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 9 mins, 52 secs
Langston Hughes said, “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” and MC Abbas lives by these words, writes Vinta Nanda
In the recent past I’ve been fascinated with young Indian politicians that I’m watching emerge from metropolises, cities, towns and villages. A few that I have met and befriended lately have brought a sense of hope to me. I believe, through the conversations I’ve been having with them, that India will soon be in safe hands and this doom that we feel around us, has a silver lining. Our future is in safe hands.
I’m reproducing here one wonderful discussion I’ve had. It was with the dynamic Syed Asad Abbas, a young leader making his presence felt and I’m sure you’ve seen him too, in those endless mainstream television news debates, holding his own and calling the bluff of some of the most well known ‘so-called’ anchors of our time.
He is MC Abbas to most. His father is a businessman and mother is a homemaker. He was the school captain at Cathedral High School, Class of 2004, and graduated from Jain University in Journalism followed by a Masters degree in Mass Communication at Christ University. He also sports a Hon. Doctorate in Media Studies awarded to him by Keisei International University, South Korea.
MC Abbas’ story is a rag to riches one. Starting from roaming around in an auto-rickshaw, today he owns an Audi, which he paid for with his own hard earned money. He laughs when I compliment him for having become a noted voice for the young and he tells me that he goes by these words of Sir Winston Churchill – “There is nothing like oratory, It is a skill that can turn a commoner into a king”. I’ve also seen how young boys and girls look up to him and he brushes it away casually by saying that becoming a powerful orator and honing a gift of the gab was not much of an effort because he always aspired to be a leader from the time he was a kid.
When I prod him to tell me a little more about his speaking skills, he tells me that one-day, at school, his teacher nominated him to speak to a packed audience of 1500 students for which he happily agreed. He spoke so well that he got a standing ovation for it and he never looked back from there. He also adds, here, that his father has been a motivator. More than him, his father was interested that MC Abbas grows up to be a leader. So his father must be a proud man today that the son is a renowned TED Speaker, that he has over 200 awards as speaker, orator, anchor and presenter under his belt, and that with the prestigious Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial Excellence Award 2017, given to him by ISRO chairman Dr. Kiran Kumar, he is an ‘achiever’ in the true sense of the word. Besides all of the above, MC Abbas was a host of Indian Premier League (IPL) events with the Indian cricket team captain, Virat Kohli.
When I ask him about his life in politics, he informs me that his appearances on television brought him to the notice of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leadership and they approached him to contest the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018. I ask him to elaborate on his election experience, and he says, “There is nothing in this world called ‘overnight success’! Success is a slow and gradual process. It’s taken me ten years to reach where I am today. I have faced hardships, failures and trials. At one point I was written off. It was at that time when I promised myself I would make a name in this world! Wait… let me tell you the words of Ratan Tata - ‘Not everybody is born with equal talent, but life gives an equal opportunity to develop’. So I have realized that confidence is key and that the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Now over to the electric conversation that I had with him:
Which was that moment that made you decide to enter politics - and why?
There’s a need for basic education in most of the societies around us in India - forget about formal and higher education, which is such a trudge even for the advantaged and privileged. The majority of our country’s children and youth don’t have access to quality education – the kind of learning that will make them solid people and support them through life successfully - the kind that will bring to them the dignity they deserve. And, now the government in power is not providing jobs either – wherever I look, I see youth wasted, youngsters are aimless and they’re also desperate for work, they’re ready to do whatever comes their way even if it undermines their educational qualifications.
Entrepreneurship is in our blood as Indians, and never has such a situation arisen before, that even to stand on the street with a bicycle you own and sell bottled pickles made by your mother has become impossible. We’re living in strange times, in an adverse culture that was never witnessed. Whatever may have been the circumstances the people were in, there was encouragement in the air, things always looked up, there was positivity, but since the recent past one can experience only negativity in the form of abuse, trolling, violence and victimization of the underserved, minorities and the poor. Therefore I felt the need to step in and I hope that whatever I do, it makes a difference.
How did you find your way past the labyrinth that the political universe poses and then find a place for yourself?
I do a lot of work in the community – I help people in need irrespective of whatever religion or faith they follow or for that matter, the caste they belong to. I have always been someone who reaches out to help those that need my support – in whichever small way I can. It could be just connecting a young girl or boy to somebody I know that can be an enabler to them. When I reach out to my friends, their friends and acquaintances and sometimes even to people I don’t know at all, I become aware of the problems they are facing. More often than not, it’s to do with there being lack of opportunity for them, fear of being called an ‘other’ or else just the difficulties they face in dealing with bureaucracy and red tape for a small thing to get done. This keeps me abreast of the things that are troubling citizens of the country and it is those issues that I amplify and raise through television appearances and social media. I ensure that my presence and visibility is consistent, and honestly, that’s how I have made a space for myself in politics over a period of time. Most of the issues that I raise are to do with education for the under privileged and jobs for the youth.
What are your thoughts on the next generation politicians of India and why?
Zero corruption! Zero corruption! Zero corruption! I emphasize on this point because India cannot afford corruption any longer. I firmly believe that the primary strength of a next generation of politicians should practice propriety – no charges of corruption, clean track record and ‘zero’ criminal record. We have seen too much happen in recent years and the present youth, which is the future of the country, is no longer ready to compromise on the leaders it selects.
Another very important factor is that politicians must be educated and qualified. Power must be derived from knowledge and experience and not from your ability to bully your way up the ranks. We must know how much community service and social work the people who aspire to be leaders have done. Fear should not be why someone gets respected – only those who inspire us to be good human beings and build pathways for the next generations to achieve peace and prosperity should be respected.
We need real development – what I call Sacchi Vikas. A politician is a public servant and they need to learn how to serve people. The present youth is aware that he or she is a stakeholder in the country and as they grow older, you will see, they will not allow politics or politicians to wreak havoc to the environment, compromise on health and sustainability issues, undervalue one gender against another or for that matter attempt to make homogeneity dominate diversity. We are a country of too many cultures and all of them must be celebrated, each one of them must evolve – nobody must be told to speak a certain language or dress in a particular way. Such things are not what governments are supposed to do – governance is to enable people to thrive, not to paralyze and disempower citizens.
What is your assessment of India’s politics as of today?
I think I’ve already said it, but let me say it again. Indian politics, today, is at the worst it has ever been since our independence in 1947. The politicians don’t realize that information is at everybody’s fingertips now. However hard they try to control the narrative, they will not succeed because youth by nature is inquisitive and his or her curiosity leads them to search for the truth.
The mainstream media has been the biggest defaulter of our times. Media that runs only for profit is harmful and our present media barons don’t realize that the wealth they are collecting will be worthless, even for them, if our countrymen and women, especially those struggling for their survival, are crippled by the misinformation they are spreading in a bid to serve their sponsors. History will chronicle what is going on and will return to haunt them when my generation grows older and finds out how it has been cheated.
How do you think we will be able to rise above the pettiness of caste, class and religious differences?
To rise above the pettiness of caste, class and religious differences we have to work very hard. We need to adopt and apply the concept of Ubuntu: equality for all in every sense. We need to work on the fundamentals provided to us by our constitution, which was drafted by the great Dr. Ambedkar and work upwards from the grassroots to ensure that each and every Indian is made aware of the values that are enshrined in it. Only awareness will spread light, only knowledge will bring the truth out from the darkness and make people understand how gentle and caring we are as human beings and how against our own DNA we work when we hate others and be violent. The only constant is ‘change’ – but then change, too, must be in the ‘right direction’.
Your plans, both immediate, as well as long term?
I have a single agenda for both immediate as well as long term. I will work for the wellness of our communities and societies and I will nurture my parliamentary constituency as a model for others to follow.
I will contest the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 and to get people’s votes I have to win over their hearts. That is all that I will be working towards.