Shweta Shalini

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Shweta Shalini
Shweta Shalini, Politician.jpg
The Young Uttar Bharatiya Leader in BJP Maharashtra
Native name
श्वेता शालिनी
Born (1980-09-08) 8 September 1980 (age 38)
ResidencePune, Maharashtra
NationalityIndian
EducationBE (Mechanical), MBA
Alma materArmy Institute of Technology, Pune
Home townAyodhya
TitleOfficial Spokesperson-BJP Maharashtra, Executive Director- VSTF
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s)Ankush Tiwari
ChildrenTwin Boys - Ansh and Lakshya
Parents
  • Col. Shishir Kumar (Ex-Army Man, Trainer, Educationist) (father)
  • Vibha Sinha (Home maker) (mother)
Websitewww.shwetashalini.com

Shweta Shalini (born September 8, 1980) Official Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson, Advisor to Chief Minister of Maharashtra is an Indian politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state of Maharashtra.[1] She works closely with Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as an advisor, election strategist and technology consultant.[2] Shweta Shalini is the most visible as well as young dynamic Uttar Bharatiya leader in BJP-Maharashtra who hails from Bihar, married to Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) and brings together wide range of skillsets for the BJP with her corporate and entrepreneurial background. She is also a columnist and a thought-leader whose opinion pieces on political as well as articles on non-political issues are noteworthy.[3][4][5][6]

Being from Ayodhya herself and in recognition of her work in Ayodhya and ideology rooted in traditional Indian values, she was appointed General Secretary of the Ayodhya Samanvaya Samiti which was formed at the behest of petitioners of Ram Janmabhoomi movement to construct Ram Mandir at the birthplace of Lord Rama.[7] This Samiti having representations from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and Shiv Sena was formed to work towards bringing together all petitioners and removing obstacles to the construction of Ram Mandir.[7]

She is an entrepreneur and founder of Fortune Cookie Ux Design before making her mark in Indian politics.[8] [9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Her Corporate success with two more IT companies later on turned her into serial entrepreneur which eventually led to her being Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. It was followed by political career which saw her achieving greater heights bringing in corporate professionalism into politics.

She has played a crucial role in the elections for the BJP across Maharashtra by being the war room in charge.[16][17] She has over the years proven her expertise in campaigning for the BJP right from the panchayat elections to Parliament elections and has a hugely successful track record in winning elections.

Apart from her political role, She is Executive Director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation (VSTF) which aims at transforming the 1000 backward villages in Maharashtra. The Foundation which is an initiative of Government of Maharashtra and chaired by Chief Minister of Maharashtra has corporate tycoons like Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra as part of the governing council.[18] It is testimony to the huge success of Shweta Shalini as Executive Director that over the years, other states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Assam have started emulating this model of development credited to Devendra Fadnavis.[18]

Her work as Spokesperson of party has been noteworthy given the sheer number of educational institutions, forums, panel discussions and conferences where she has represented the BJP. She has appeared in several news debates in English, Hindi and Marathi channels to put forth the party point of view. Also noteworthy has been her writings in the popular Q&A website Quora. She is one of the most popular writers on the subject "Bharatiya Janata Party" in Quora whose Alexa rankings in India for traffic to its website is way more than even websites of established media houses like NDTV, Zee News, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times.[19]

Early life[edit]

Shweta Shalini was born on 8 September 1980 and hails from small village called Binda in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Her father was deeply influenced by the JP movement (Bihar Movement) against misrule and corruption in Bihar which eventually turned against Indira Gandhi's Government at the Centre. Her father was against caste system and believed a man/woman should be known by his/her work and not by the surname. So he dropped his surname and named his kids accordingly to not require a surname and hence the name-Shweta Shalini. She has one sibling, a younger brother. Being an army officer's daughter, she went to Army Public School and has studied in nine different schools in five different states across India. She completed her B.E (Mechanical) from Army Institute of Technology, Pune. Thereafter she completed her MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management and got married to a small village in the banks of river Sarayu in Ayodhya. Her husband Ankush Tiwari is co-founder and CTO at Mobiliya. They have twin boys named Ansh and Laksh and it is their family trust at Ayodhya which does the Sarayu Aarti on the banks of river Sarayu. She stays in Pune, Maharashtra with her family.

She started her career in sales and marketing and was the first women employee at Atlas Copco, India before starting up her own venture Fortune Cookie Ux Design. She was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.

Political career[edit]

"If a nation's security should be the passion of its soldiers, then public service should be the passion of its politicians" is the political philosophy which drives Shweta Shalini a daughter of an army man who sees accountable public service not just as a duty but as a passion.

She is the technocrat politician credited with bringing in professionalism, technology and data-driven electioneering in BJP-Maharashtra unit. She has been the war room in-charge for various elections across Maharashtra right from parliament to panchayat elections including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in Mumbai which is the biggest municipal corporation in Asia whose budget exceeds that of many Indian states.

Shweta Shalini is credited with inventing and implementing Mukhyamantri Mitra initiative by Maharashtra BJP. Mukhyamantri Mitra is a citizen volunteer who would carry out `social audit' of the functioning of government departments and welfare schemes. These volunteers would include retired government servants, police officials, teachers, CAs, doctors and those with a social service background .[1] She was appointed BJP Spokesperson as a recognition in the party of her oratory skills and debating ability which continues to serve the party unit in Maharashtra well.

She is special executive director at the Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation tasked with Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis initiative to transform 1000 villages into model villages.[17] She played in instrumental role in the launch of the "Uttar Bhartiya Yuva Parivartan Manch" (UBYPM) aimed at working for the welfare and progress of Uttar Bhartiya community in Maharashtra.[1] She strongly believes that social amity between the migrant Uttar Bhartiya community and the local population is the only way to mutual prosperity. In an event celebrating the occasion of Uttar Pradesh Sthapna Divas at Kalyan, she stated that Uttar Bhartiyas whether from Uttar Pradesh or from Bihar should as a society be united to ensure prosperity.[2][20]

War Room In-Charge[edit]

Shweta Shalini has headed the war room for the BJP for various elections across the state right from panchayat to parliament. Her most noteworthy being the prestigious BMC elections where BJP made huge inroads in the financial capital of India, Mumbai. She models her war room on the lines of German method of warfare called Blitzkrieg where dense concentration of forces at break-neck speed on a limited point of contact removes all resistance to the infantry with close air-support. Towards this end, the BJP invested in training of the party cadres even at the taluka level. She being an IT-expert herself brought in professionalism to the war room even getting staff from Facebook and Twitter to provide training session on use of social media tools.

As part of the election strategy, the BJP war-room headed by her came up with three aspects of the campaign — above the line (hoardings and radio broadcast), below the line (interactive street plays, LED vans) and one-on-one (calls, messages, emails and door-to-door campaigns). Bharatiya Janata Party listed out the wards based on the kind of support for the party - A+ category for areas where party is confident of winning and so on. For the constituencies where BJP presence is weak, candidates were asked to do extensive door-to-door campaign.[3] She has consistently performed well and gave results right from parliamentary election, Maharashtra state elections to even panchayat elections.

MukhyaMantri Mitra[edit]

Shweta Shalini is credited with inventing and implementing Mukhyamantri Mitra initiative by Maharashtra BJP.[4] Mukhyamantri Mitra is a citizen volunteer who would carry out `social audit' of the functioning of government departments and welfare schemes. These volunteers would include retired government servants, police officials, teachers, CAs, doctors and those with a social service background .[1]

The BJP had received 2800 applications out of which the selected candidates would be expected to put in 10 hrs per week after undergoing training. There was no remuneration or honararium which would be paid.[5] The MukhyaMantri Mitra initiative was aimed at connecting with the masses, conducting social audit at the ground level, working together with the party workers and providing inputs through the "Aaple Sarkar"portal.

BJP Spokesperson[edit]

She was appointed one of the official spokespersons of the BJP-Maharashtra unit on February 2016 and since then she has been one of the prominent voices in debates, forums and Social Media. She makes regular appearances in news debates in English, Hindi and Marathi channels putting forth the official party stand, defending her party's political positions and debating issues of national and international importance.

In a Press conference conducted in Solapur regarding the false allegations made by Congress on the Rafale deal, she equivocally stated that the "Watchman is Pure" referring to the Prime Minister of India falsely alleged of wrongdoings.She further stated that since Congress party always had middlemen dealing with all defence contracts and profiting out of it BJP tenure did away with middlemen altogether and ensured transparency.[21] Rahul Gandhi had insulted the soldiers of our nation by asking for proof of surgical strike said Shweta Shalini to hit back at the Congress party.[21]

On specific questions in Press Conference conducted at Kankivali in December 2018, she expressed confidence that Shiv Sena and BJP will form an alliance as being Hindutva parties, Shiv Sena doesn't have any other option but to come together with BJP.[22] She further charged that Congress is indulging in fake accusations without any basis or facts to prove it.

During her statement in Ratnagiri on response of the BJP to the statement of veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, she hit out saying his brother is a decorated army officer holding the position of Lieutenant general in Indian Army who safeguards the borders. He never stated any feeling of insecurity while Naseeruddin Shah claims the same. She further reminded that India is the safest place for all religions and that even persecuted Jews during the term of Hitler sought refuge and comfort in India.[23]

In Satara, she made headlines stating that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is Karma Yogi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is Saint while Amit Shah is everything to us from an organizational point of view.[24] She also repeated her assertions thereafter about the Rafale deal that false accusations are just an attempt by Congress to mislead the nation by repeating a lie a hundred times to make it seem plausible.[24] She said that BJP did in its term what Congress couldn't do in last 10 years in terms of protecting the interest of the nation by arming the airforce with modern technology and capabilities by signing the Rafale deal with France.[24]

In her TV appearance on 11 May 2018 where Amitabh Bachchan launched season 5 of NDTV Dettol Banega Swacch India, Shweta Shalini brought forth the fact that Maharashtra has been leading in planting trees in India. She further reinstated that State has planted 5 crore trees already and plans to plant 13 crore trees in a year.[25] She also remarked that Swacch movement has transitioned from building toilets to becoming open defecation free and that the concept of ODF is being recognised across rural India.[26]

Having Been an IT-Cell co-convener of the BJP and founder to two IT Companies, her presence in social Media like Twitter and Facebook has been noteworthy. Her presence and active contribution to the popular question-and-answer website Quora has been remarkable being only among very few prominent politicians with a presence in Quora and putting forth her views on political as well as non-political subjects. She is the only BJP Spokesperson on Quora and is Top Writer on the subject "Bharatiya Janata Party". She takes leadership in driving the narrative and has huge number of followers even for a site like Quora with such a niche limited audience. Her writings as the only Official BJP Spokesperson in Quora has been appreciated by the Quorans and was subsequently invited by Quora for a session. On 21 January 2019 she conducted a Live VIP Taking Questions session in Quora Hindi and became the 1st ever Indian politician invited by Quora for such an honour. The platform had in English version seen the likes of Hillary Clinton and Obama take to Quora to explain their political position of the day.[6] The importance of the platform for the youth in India can be gauged from the fact that Alexa ranking for traffic to Quora is way more than traffic to websites of established media houses like NDTV, Zee News, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times.[19]

Her opinion pieces have also been an influential medium of setting the agenda for the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the controversy surrounding the appointment of Shaktikanta Das as Governor of RBI, Shweta Shalini hit out at the opposition congress party for the needless hue and cry over nothing.[27] Her take on the RBI controversy put to rest most of the arguments made against the appointment of Modi Government. Apart from her political write-ups, she is a regular guest columnist at the Entrepreneur (magazine).[7]

Her appearance in the discussion along with Atishi of Aam Aadmi Party was well-received among series of YouTube Interviews by Comedian Kunal Kamra.[28] She gave her responses to various issues including the Ram Mandir issue and allegations against the BJP on various policy issues which was satirized.[28]

She is a regular speaker in various forums, educational institutions and think-tanks on policy matters, political discourse and administrative issues. She is in addition the most sought-after speaker on issues concerning entrepreneurship, CSR, woman empowerment and start-up policy.

Writings[edit]

Shweta Shalini is a thought-leader whose speeches, talks and panel discussions on wide range of topics have been appreciated by diverse audience across varied platforms. She is also a published columnist and has written on political and non-political matters.

In her article on Opindia, she hailed the Narendra Modi government for ushering in a change and taking the nation from dynasty to democracy. She outlined the presence of rudimentary form of democracy in Hindu text Rigveda and the course of democracy right from the times of pre-independent India to modern Indian democratic system and expressed hope of a better future.[29] She claimed that India is an outlier in South Asia for being a functioning democracy despite being written off by experts as destined to fail.[30] She credited the Modi government for bringing in that era of change while India continues to have regional parties which are mostly dynasties.[31]

In yet another opinion piece on the back of controversial appointment of Shaktikanta Das as the RBI Governor, she vigorously defended the Modi dispensation hitting out at the opposition parties. She accused the Indian National Congress under Rahul Gandhi of needless hue and cry over the appointment.[32] She stated that RBI is accountable to the government of the day and to parliament which in turn is answerable to the people of India.[33] She also observed that even invocation of the controversial Section 7 of the RBI act would not tantamount to breach of independence.[34]

After the media outcry on the statements of RSS sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat on Bharatiyata, she spelled out that Bharatiyata is nothing but the essence of Bharat.[35] She sought to highlight the cultural inclusiveness of India while claiming that Hindutva and Bharatiyata is one and the same and it is the only secularism that is. She hit out at the Indian National Congress writing that the current Congress party can't be compared to the past when its internal democracy ensured that even Mahatma Gandhi was democratically challenged by Subhas Chandra Bose.

Apart from political ones, She has also penned down non-political contributions like her contributions in the world renowned Entrepreneur (magazine). [36] On the month of Women's day, she addressed the specific challenges unique to woman entrepreneurs and tips to deal with it including being money-wise, restraining expectations, playing to core-competencies, planning and scaling the start-up. [37] Just a few days before the start of Lok Sabha elections 2019, she wrote in the Entrepreneur the 5 stakes which the Indian entrepreneurs have in the election season which seem to indicate why Modi government was essential for India.[8] The things at stake included Meritocracy, Formalization of Economy, Increasing Tax base and growing middle class, faster digitalisation and better Ease of Doing Business Rankings.[9]

Woman Empowerment[edit]

Shweta Shalini believes that conservative Indian mindset combined with discriminating policies holds back women who are about half the population from contributing and being a substantial part of the nation's progress in all spheres of life. Shweta Shalini has always been a leader in guiding the women from all strata of life to take charge of their lives and progress. She helps women who want to become entrepreneurs in all ways- through ideas and support. This not only helps women to increase revenue in their own homes, but also the society. She works with www.storified.me which provides the women with a platform thorough which they can enable themselves as an entrepreneur and provide them with a foundation to be glorified and connect with other women entrepreneurs. Storified.me reaches out the women entrepreneurs in the rural areas to train them. The platform is in process of setting up an e-commerce site for the self-help groups.

She launched the Billennium Divas Angel Fund for women entrepreneurs and start-ups quoting impact alpha special report that India's 650 million women are the key to meet all global goals for 2030 especially sustainable development goal by achieving gender equality.[38] The fund is the second in the country dedicated entirely to woman-entrepreneurs and woman-led startups where Shweta Shalini as chief evangelist mentors the start-ups.

Rural Transformation through VSTF[edit]

Shweta Shalini is Executive Director of Village Social Transformation Foundation (VSTF), a Section 8 company formed by the Government of Maharashtra. She was appointed as Director on January 2018 after which she has steered the initiatives of the foundation in training the Chief minister Rural Development Fellows (CMRDF), transforming the villages and monitoring the changes on the ground by personally visiting villages. The foundation chaired by the Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis himself is tasked with transforming the 1000 backward villages in Maharashtra into model Villages. The 1000 villages adopted by the Chief minister is an ambitious programme where major development parameters would be improved upon. The mission has many prominent corporates as its partners namely Tata Foundation, Birla Foundation, Reliance Foundation, Mahindra Foundation, Jindal Foundation and others. The Foundation which is an initiative of Government of Maharashtra and chaired by Chief Minister of Maharashtra has corporate tycoons like Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra as part of the governing council.[18]

Speaking at an event of VSTF on the Republic day address on 26 January 2019 at Y.B Chavan Hall, the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed satisfaction that the foundation together with its fellows have been able to start the process of transformation with the help of villagers.[39] The progress and development work of all 1000 villages have been initiated by them already. He also expressed hope that villages adjoining the transformed 1000 villages will also take a cue and join in the social transformation process.[39] He also proudly stated that it is due to the success of VSTF that other states are looking forward to adopt this model.[39] It is testimony to the huge success of Shweta Shalini as Executive Director that over the years, other states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Assam have started emulating this model of development credited to Devendra Fadnavis.[18]

On 5 December 2018 VSTF under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis signed MOU's with 49 companies widening the scope of rural Transformation with the world-bank funded State of Maharashtra's Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) initiative.[10] The VSTF through its partners contributed 70 crore to the project while 1500 crore is funded by world bank with the remaining 430 crore coming from the Government of Maharashtra. The VSTF has signed MoUs with 22 corporates and start-ups to focus on increasing farm productivity and higher price realisations for farmers by ensuring direct tie-up with end buyers.[11]

The Chief minister while launching the same remarked that "This initiative will be an ideal conduit between a chain of empowered farmers in the form of producer companies, self-help groups with direct access to the large retailers, and will lead to transformation in agriculture. This will not only ensure that agriculture is profitable, but also sustainable over the next 6 years across 10,000 villages with 3 lakh people being skilled for this emerging agri-business"[12]. VSTF under the Directorship of Shweta Shalini has widely expanded its reach among Villages and aims to bring in radical transformation in as much as 10000 villages as part of the SMART initiative.The NDTV Dettol Banega Swacch India episode aired on 17th Nov, 2018 featured the work of Shweta Shalini recognising her excellent work in the field of rural transformation through VSTF.[13]

Chhath Puja[edit]

Shweta Shalini has played key leadership role in the Chhath festival conducted at the banks of river in the island city of Mumbai and across other parts of Maharashtra. She works closely with Chhath Utsav Mahasangh which has been conducting Chhath in Mumbai for more than two decades. A crowd of millions of people from the Uttar Bhartiya community primarily from Purvanchal region of Uttar Bharat converge at Juhu, Mumbai to pay obeisance to Chhathi Maiya in a Hindu festival going back to Vedic period. [14] Chhath Puja is observed mainly in the Purvanchal region by natives of Bihar, Uttar pradesh and Jharkhand. Fasting women make offerings to the setting and rising sun along riverfronts to seek the "suns god" blessings for their children and husbands. The offerings include sugarcane, kheer, puri, thekua, rice, laddo and fruits, mainly sweet lime and banana in bamboo winnows.[15]

On the occasion of Chhath Puja in 2018, she chose the auspicious day along with other Uttar Bhartiya youth professionals to launch the UBYPM. The members handing over the momento to Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of UBYPM formally announced the formation of the manch to work together for welfare of Uttar Bhartiyas. The Chief minister then proceeded to release the brochures with lakhs of devotees and media persons witnessing the same.

Uttar Bhartiya Yuva Parivartan Manch[edit]

Being a young and dynamic Uttar Bhartiya face in Maharashtra politics, Shweta Shalini was instrumental in bringing together professionals, corporates, journalists and social activists on a single apolitical platform to form the "Uttar Bhartiya Yuva Parivartan Manch". The manch was inaugurated by the Chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis on 13 November 2018 on the auspicious occasion of Chhath Puja at Juhu, Mumbai.[16]

Shweta Shalini through the manch brings together Uttar Bhartiya community from all walks of life on this single platform and works towards their welfare as a young dynamic Uttar Bhartiya leader in Maharashtra. The UBYPM works for promoting amity between Uttar Bhartiya community and local people in Maharashtra with its spiritual and cultural exchange program, local language training and exchange of ideas to integrate the diverse, pluralist society of Maharashtra. The UBYPM recognises that an age old cultural and spiritual bond exists between Maharashtra and Uttar Bharat right from the times when Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was crowned in the presence of priests from Kashi. The UBYPM aims to revive that tradition and bring in a positive change among the Uttar Bhartiya community in Maharashtra through local language training. The manch conducts the following activities:-

Cultural Promotion[edit]

This UBYPM Manch with Shweta Shalini as one of the prominent core members will organize inter-cultural exchange programs to promote amity between the rich local culture of Maharashtra and the ancient culture of Uttar Bhartiya. It will promote Uttar Bhartiya culture in Maharashtra by organizing Ayodhya yatra and trips to other such important cultural centres like Bodh Gaya in Uttar Bharat and also promote Marathi culture in Uttar Bharat by organizing trips to important cultural centres of Maharashtra like the forts of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, Deekshabhoomi and Shirdi yatra.

On 19th February 2019, UBYPM under leadership of Shweta Shalini took 100 people from Maharashtra to Prayagraj on a Kumbh Shahi Snan trip on the occasion of Magh Purnima. It was received very positively by the Uttar Bharatiya community as well as the local Maharashtrian community and was seen as attempts by the Uttar Bharatiya community to improve their social prospects.[40]

Language Training[edit]

The Uttar Bhartiya Yuva Parivartan Manch will inculcate importance of Marathi language in the Uttar Bhartiya populace in Maharashtra and render language training to the youth which can help them integrate with the population, improve communication and enhance job & self-employment opportunities.[17]

Skill Development[edit]

The UBYPM established with Shweta Shalini as one of the core members will promote skill development of the community with an aim to provide employment and promote livelihood development and eradicate mass unemployment. The manch will organize trainings, workshops and seminar to promote basic skilling and education among both blue collar workers and white collar professionals with a view to have a prosperous community building.[18]

Entrepreneurship Promotion[edit]

The UBYPM under the guidance of Shweta Shalini who is a start-up mentor will promote self-employment and entrepreneurship among the community to make the community job-givers rather than job-seekers. The entrepreneurship promotion will aim at establishing a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurs who will work together for the welfare and prosperity of the community with an aim to provide employment and also grow existing business enterprises.

Awards and Recognition[edit]

  • Entrepreneur of the Year - 2011
  • Digital Media Excellence Award 2017 at the hands of Vijay P. Bhatkar
  • ICICI Bank recognition in Fund Your Own Worth, Your Story.[19]
  • Cyber Suraksha India Award 2017
  • Vithumauli Puraskar 2016
  • Adarsh Mahila Puraskar 2017

References[edit]

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