BJP Spokesperson Shazia Ilmi on India, PM Modi & Women Empowerment – ITV Gold Exclusive



hello everyone I'm ready Lama and welcome to another edition of inside school where we bring you prominent figures from here and India these figures are South Asian voices that are really embarking on a true journey to represent our identity and so much more on the show today it's a privilege and honor to have amongst us an Indian politician a former television journalist and someone who really is passionate about your voices two insights and identity someone who really represents the true Indian Muslim woman on the show let's welcome Shazia with me she has come here from India and joining us on ITV good thank you so much editing for that kind introduction oh I think you know I should probably said more of more words to describe you you know when somebody sort of researches you just a little bit you all will find out that she has not only advocated for voices but she has produced so many pathways for really and putting her own versions out so today you know while I am discussing that with the audience and you this passion you've had towards getting a true identity Muslim women out for yourself out for having the right advocacy for Indians out in politics Petrie journalism or not through politics where is that passion to write from for you and especially this year when you saw those elections did you see a lot of you know the combination of the passion during elections really come out for you so it's been a like a long journey and a very interesting one and I must tell you that I never thought our politics was never really in in picture for me it was a big deal just to think of having a high education to have a career but those are things we dreamed about you know it wasn't possible and I remember going to bed and actually praying and and and asking Allah they do not change my circumstances or change my dreams because what my dreams were they were so different from what my immediate circumstances were in life so you know it's been a very it was a tough Muslim upbringing you know in a Sunni household there were different rules for men and women for girls and boys yeah and what the very driver passion from essentially is sense of injustice and anger that I feel that what I have endured and I've seen others endure and that incident instead of complaining about I feel we can all channelize his anger right is angst yeah this this anguish and even the sense of helplessness that we've all felt at one point of time or the other in our lives yeah any any form of injustice whether it's you know whether you're aware there is about being a girl and not being allowed the same as others as guys are to study to go further the discrimination between daughters and sons and that that you felt and also injustice in terms of the other realities of India if you look at the class system and the class system and it's inter-religion and intra religion and you know all kinds of different conflicts that we enjoy and the sense of injustice that you feel for yourself and others I feel it can channelize it into a positive energy into something big and keep I always tell people to keep the anger alive you don't say oh oh oh this is my lot this is my feet yeah this was meant to be you know it it might be for some it might be just destiny but it's in your hands to change destiny to do something about it if you couldn't help yourself and you're 15 years old or 16 you can help many others out there who are right now 15 and 16 year olds so you have to look after your own in a child that is suffered I said yeah I always think that oh I was so helpless and I didn't know where to go and I I didn't have a voice and I just strained to have my voice be heard and to tell people that here I exist and don't ignore me and I want to keep that sense of helplessness and pain alive so that I can speak for the dead touch Asya who was lost and anguished and maybe traumatized right I speak for many other charges out there and many many young girls who might want somebody to speak for them but you think so I think it's important to keep it and they say positive energy that's very good but it has to come from somewhere and when you endure all those in justices in justices and discrimination and unfairness it should it should make it should want to make you a better person one and to make a work on building a world that is better place for others yeah that's what I believe you know why are you speaking Mike my question there was seeking so having public big platforms such as using television and then getting into politics and becoming a spokesperson for partition to party which you are right now these are very strong places for advocacy for really bringing out their voices they were talking about how important was that for you personally to have that pathway you know when we are talking about those injustice is inequality I can relate to you being born and raised in India that there were inequalities and they were injustice isn't it's not that I came from as very blatant yeah exactly I didn't come from a particularly crazily strict family nothing but but even then of course there were so many inequality so I can totally relate to that but how has that past has been for you having such a public platform and then having so many you know I was researching some one day they called you the the perfect ideal modern representation for an Indian Muslim woman now some years so when your men are looking up to you in that aspect how has that experience been for you oh it's absolutely humbling and it's a huge reminder of my responsibilities and all the work that lies ahead of me you see I'm indefatigable I need to work I have seen myself as a warrior so to speak you know body activists yeah so these are just different roles you play you know and earlier it was all about you but I'll get to study more with I'll get to be married you know in a household with it allow me to work whether I'll have a career and now it's about about that actualization that I cannot create can I work on an ecosystem to make things better for for other girls were struggling to make a to have a foothold in that space where the power the power structures exist right – so to create that and to work on those pathways you know that's important but it all starts with oneself so it's a very intense journey full of introspection and full of honesty – because you can't take advantage of being a woman at the same time it's right against injustice is so it's a very it's got to be very honest fight and I don't know I just started in my career as a journalist and like you I was an anchor for several years and much later of course and people recognized your work and Worth and you go places and then at the height of that career I decided to do something more and there was this whole anti-corruption movement which is building up yeah it was in its infancy it was called the Anna Hazare movement yeah in 2011 and I was just thinking that you know it's great to be a TV news anchor it gives you that huge platform force as a reporter producer anchor and then you read it all set you know you have done you know been looked after you have a very good bank balance and enough following and you say but I need to do more I need to go back there what is the source of who I am or what has created this in me there has to be that that x-factor you see that something that propels you in a direction and then I just decided to give it all up and just put my TV career on hold and just jump into that Nazari movement so it was just like that and the movement was really small at that point of time and then later on it became huge and I thought I was leaving to TV for good right but then I was became the spokesperson for the movement then I created the whole media movement around Gaza Ryan Dulin yeah and that was it and then it became a party and then I was a co-founder of the aam aadmi party and then arvind kejriwal and i fell out we had huge differences I was the first one to leave and everybody told me you should not do that and I said no I will not stay in a place where I'm not respected and nobody believed me because Arvin had this holier-than-thou kind of a persona about himself and then later on people found out and after me everybody left yeah so I think a whole lot of a bunch of people of AC very senior people were either out stood from the party or thrown out ignominiously so that happened and then I waited a while you know but there was a whole cooling-off period for a whole year and I wondered as to what I want to do and then I mean I wasn't even impressed with the with the with Prime Minister Modi and he was sworn in and then I saw these this huge bill boss of sewage pirate and Onan yeah and I see this this one Prime Minister talking about girls safety of girls his XO exhorting men and women from the ramparts of Red Fort and say see what how we always ask about how girls should be ever take a look at what your boys are doing and I said this is a man who's different and you're the brand ambassador and also else has been that's such a huge concern for me since I was a little girl and it's shocking as for you you know that we have we have had open defecation yeah it's bad enough but to stir to have the indignity as a woman to do wait for it to for this for the Sun to go down to be able to use yeah what people called restrooms and use it at all times people in this part of the world take it for granted but it's something you know what I mean we aren't privileged in India normal and this is our government said the STS could have done it achieved many years earlier but you only came around to doing about it just few years back and look at look at her figures now India's getting open defecation free and Prime Minister talked about dignity for for for women are poor were sisters so that they have to be these toilets and there's this a huge big government scheme right giving giving funds yes the centre state schemes for centre and state where both parties give certain amount of funds to build toilets yeah and it's been a huge movement so I always say that this Prime Minister gets yeah a lot of lot of politicians do but I think he gets a lot of blessings is that why you chose at that point – ha you know in Vice I saw the Gandhi's Mahatma Gandhi's a spectacle for the swish Potter right and I said you know he's he's from the BJP and all of that and he's using Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles as a as a symbol so to speak for switch Bharath something different is happening here he's a different kind of a person he is not your typical run-of-the-mill Indian politician no he's a sannyasi man he's a man who's ready to give up a lot in life he does not have a personal agenda he cares for the country right and there I was bought in totally and because that's the kind of person I was and the Hazara movement was it was a small movement but I said we have to fight corruption and that was against UPA – he so I mean I mean I'm a politician you're not but I must tell you that India was known for all the scams and all the corruption and and they were it was our newspapers would replete with more and more stories I mean your inside scoop program at that point of time would have been about this scam or the idea so I and you know and you just see Prime Minister Modi's five-year tenure not one scam not one corruption scam touching or tainting even one Minister from his capital he's actually no one to clear out a lot – yes that's been the reputation that he came and cleaned out a lot and you so I'm also a huge fan and I believed this and I would I like about tea – it's not political at all is that he's a deep down he seeks transformation not just politically but social transition when he talks about respect for women when he talks about allowing the poor not just allowing them but giving them the dignity to have genuine cards you know which is the bank cards and because a huge percentage of Indians do not have access to the banking system and so he's breaking down those barriers caste class religion and that for me is phenomenal you know this is the new India yeah it we dream about you and I know true so true and you know I would just about to get there you are Indian politician and also a public figure that represents that growing India also that young India that is just looking for a political party or an entity to serve the nation no matter who they are and doesn't have to be you're so right alliances right you're so right because tell me yeah I forgot into politics for what to make money yeah or because it came from families that are political exactly how many people became politicians because they wanted to work work on working on the nation right on nation building on transformation public policy yeah gender rights because of politics it was meant for others no but there is incentive for people like me a boost for people like me to enter politics yeah to work on all the things that we've dreamed about working all these years cleaning up the system having good laws you know triplet alog bill since I've been a little girl I've been seeing my cousins and so many people coming from Kanpur which I do where I hail from suffering you know this this is called triple thalaaq which is the lucky bid that exact and men just abandoning them by the mere utterance off I died was the thrice and that being the end of the story and this women literally have to beg for arms they go from place to place with the children the man remarries and there is no no provision for these women and this law has been banned in so many Islamic countries right so you wonder that when Pakistan does not have it when Bangladesh does not have it Malaysia and Indonesia and Tunisia do not have it Egypt do not have it why should we suffer it in India why should my Indian Muslim sisters suffer this how massively is it impacting the women there according to you well it's it's such a psychological fuel that a woman lives with because she'll get married but she can be thrown out any minute so it's not just about numbers and statistics because it's difficult to get those very few marriages are registered let alone the divorces you see so you can't get those numbers but the fact is that it happens all the time and they're women who actually went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court came out with this historic judgment that this is invalid this is unconstitutional it is illegal it is also uncor anak because this is not part of the Quran strangely Oh the trippity lock is not a part not part of the Quran methods culturally added so it's a it's a it's a it's a Tanaka Hassan and the lock essen are the prescribed forms of the lock in the quran sharif and the lucky bid that came many years after the demise of prophets in la vallee wa sallam and in hazard Omer Stein so it was not part of that era or a part of the of Quran at all so it was just a myth that was being propagated so it's so easy to do without but people held on to it and I'm ashamed to say that at the right is a BA it was objected to by by by the Congress party by overseas party Muslim League and many many other bodies they felt it would be interfering with the rights of the personal rights of Muslims reversal practices of Muslims and and there needed to be reformed there so I think yeah it's been huge so and I just found my place you see you know God sends you in the right direction right and that's what happened with me you know I have to ask you when you are representing yourself as a spokesperson for a right-wing party party with the you know the ideals of him that were really really is something been like a global voice that we've heard everywhere but absolutely but you've been a part and a spokesperson out of the parties of the party being a very you know supporting Muslim woman who wants to also be able to you know support people from her faith and also bring them in here as well your take on Muslims in India Muslims in India being represented by parties and the party I would love for you to give a comment on it because very rarely do we get you know women Muslim politicians the silver does representing passage at the party everyone identify many stereotypes is amazing so yes so it is considered bgp is considered an anti-muslim party and this is a narrative that has been bandied around by the Left liberals and I don't even call them liberals I don't know whether the leftist oversight of yeah the center the right or left is very different there yeah well as the the is the way it is but you know if you see if you read the last you know issue of The Economist or the Time magazine talking about Modi as a divider in chief which I thought was so unfair because he actually is the is a huge disrupter and I unifier because he's unified the the poor the classes together and even the he's cut across the cost barriers to create this pan India proud India proud to be Indian moment for all of us right so I think that yes it's a very unfair charge and it's a very selective way of for reporting news and looking at it and this seems to be the only agenda of the Congress party and other so-called secular parties to call BJP anti-muslim BJP does not believe in in an appeasement vgp believes in an in commonality BJP believes in equal rights for all which is why it is sub Cassatt sabka Vikas and now sub kovash was right because of course art and sub quad Vikas was there there has been not a single case in in India where there has been any discrimination in terms of any of the policies where there is a Jonathan Eugenia or that the toilet scheme that are talking about the sewage parathe or the huge villa huge now where women are offered gas cylinders so that they can do away with the cooking tunas and the old stoves that they had for the first time for the first time this these policies are there and there is no discrimination on the basis of religion so the government's policies and his implementation is totally discrimination free so on what basis they attribute the so-called new erupting hatred in India Modi we've had a community charged politics for years I mean since partition and even before right has been the whole thing of divide and rule as you know it since the time of the Britishers so it's a very unfair thing and this is the only thing they can bash BJP with but we're coming back with figures and we say no this is not true and we are decoding all these and and demystifying write all the myths that are thrown at us and there are Muslims out there who refuse to be seen only as members of a minority ya Constitution of India gives me the right to be an absolute equal and I tell these parties and a challenge parties like Congress and Milan Singh's party which is which is Samajwadi and Maya bathies party which is a BSP that Vidor treat Muslims as as the other just for the votes button to treat them as equals equals stakeholders in the country's progress so I'm not a member of any minority I'm an Indian why would ya this is a I'm part of that and I don't want to diminish my power accorded to me by my Constitution by becoming a helpless hapless member of the minority I mean it's such a disempowering narrative and all the journalists civil society groups yeah and some people who call themselves intellectuals and of course the the opposition in India now must know that by always talking about a separate identity for Muslims yeah they are doing the biggest disservice to Muslims because they are completely disempowering them and taking taking them away from the mainstream and and and making them fearful of a situation and an attribute in conspiracy theories where they're none right you know I have to say when you saw the victory the massive yes you know laser light victory yeah amazing the victory that you saw with the parties in the party and the fact that at that point when we even covered the elections the topics of discussions were gender equity they were employment they were economy was national security big big topics do you think now this win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party who the party and the kind of members that are the political entities of this big party such as yourself do you think this is really representative of the fact that India now is working on real issues and we are getting people to support those yoga shoes would you agree with that I think so and I think for the first time Indians were marginalized yeah I actually saw something for themselves where there is from the health care benefits irishman Bharath or through us LPG cylinder not to you and me it sounds like a very basic thing was to scores of of Indian women who use the earthen urns you know the Chunin are still interested in and to cook and use firewood and and have such issues with the health you know if for them it's it's a it's a big it's a big relief you know so whether it's that or it's just so these small schemes just seem so small to us but I'm part of the basic infrastructure basic amenities that every citizen should have for for the first time there is a National Grid for the first time they're direct cash transfers happening or the middlemen getting out of the system a better public distribution system a prevention of leakages in the public distribution services the way the health services social services were rendered so that is creating a very positive atmosphere and people are responding to it yeah and this sick and tired of this Dennis t'k caste politics you know my caste your caste no no it doesn't matter what your past or my caste is what are they getting we from Modi ji they get a corruption free government that cares that delivers that doesn't this promise but also is high on delivery and perhaps the only government that is high on delivery you just see the roadways you see the infrastructure you see the way the cabinet works so just two days back I was talking to a senior minister his name is Gajendra Shekhar thing is part of the drinking water Kjell Shakti and you know he he finished working till the night before 2:00 in the morning huge well gee everybody knows till 5:00 in the morning he was working on something this is how ministers work and it's regular for them because they have goals given to them bureaucrats are being made to work and the first of the bright ones are giving they're not just made to work but they've been the whole system has been overhauled for better efficiency so we needed that many years earlier finally it's happening what's your comment as well as message on young India that was a huge part of the this whole movement we saw about elections this year a huge part of what both the the parties had focused on at that point a huge part of prime minister in the Bozize everyday dialogue is to empower young India to involve them in on grassroot level on gradual levels your comments on that you know Prime Minister and his monkey bond is this the discussion he does is this conversation he has with people on read you okay and he always talks about the youngsters and in fact his address issues that no Prime Minister would have thought of addressing like stress before exams and how not to be bogged down by anxiety so things that that really connects him to the youngsters and for the first time the thrust is away from job job job like everybody wanted a sir Kerry job a government job but he's saying he's talking about enterprise he's talking about startup India yeah he's saying you don't think of just being an employee you become an employer so he's looking at the whole model is changing and is giving a lot of confidence to two youngsters and also sense of pride in who you are you see a lot of these things a lot of nation-building happens in a in an invisible way so it's invisible but it's tangible the pride the confidence that I can do it and that is that was needed to be done because we were living in a very cynical world where we felt oh we are we are nobodies the politicians have it all and there was a such huge apathy at that point of time so I think they just brought back hope belief yeah there's a resurgence of confidence and we're all set we believe that India is going to be and will be a five trillion dollar economy definitely so we looked going in that direction so it's huge and it's yeah we feel – but al raha hey definitely argue about this whole concept of new India and we are talking about this new whole five years term there's a lot of work that needs to be done there's a lot of work that's already been done when you're looking at your own particular rules and your own you know pathway in this entire process where do you see yourself head in those direction and also are there any things particularly an agenda for this year and perhaps 2020 that you know that you really are passionate about yes I I'm extremely passionate about not just gender rights but overall equality and the message we bring yeah and there with all the hate that is happening I feel a very clear role for myself to play a part as not just as a goodwill ambassador but as a as a as a activist working on ground to tell people to get over the differences and be a part of this new India and we have to shed this identity politics I want to go out there where there is a force attribute allowed well I'm very happy is back in the Parliament it's been reintroduced and soon will be a law your closely working with it yes very very closely but you know there is so much to be done there is so much to be done and I want to reach out to do all I mean just because I'm a Muslim doesn't mean I should work or leave with the Muslims yeah but yes because there is a sense of relatability I want to go out and tell them to embrace this this new the new beginnings you know that are happening in something be a part of something positive and stop this hate we have to stop this labeling stop the other Ness that we have to assimilate be together and be integrated as a unified whole which is India and this is the idea of India as a woman I would love for you to give a which out to all South Asian women yes terms there's gender right and how you think they should advocate for their voice you know this is so important that you asked me as a teen is something very close to my heart I'm very emotional about it I think first of all we must accept that things are tough there is a lot of lot of pain in in each one of us of a different kind and of different magnitude I'm sure but I think it's very important for us to to have a little conversation and this conversation is not two people in a house people in office men out there other women out there but this conversation that you need to have with yourself I need to have with myself and every woman needs to have with herself how does she see herself in her own life well she does she want to be a player role that is already being defined for her or will she explore that dimension of who she actually is officially knows nothing about she's just been told that she's a daughter she's a wife she's a mother this is a job but there is a voice within her what does it tell her there's a voice within her tell her that yes she can be a huge big banker does it tell her that she can really run a run a big big business there's something tell her that you know she must say say no doing injustice there's a voice inside her tell her that next time she's expects her daughter to cook and not the Sun maybe she's she should rethink that so these are voices within you so go out there before anything else can change there is a spark in each one of us and if you don't speak for yourself no one else will so speak for yourself and speak for others you know I know we're running very short on time but there is a lot of work that you've been doing with the United Nations yes with a lot of love and it's with a lot of humanitarian causes attached to it and of course you know the Government of India very closely works with the United Nations as well yes we're one of those and the UN mission has been absolutely as been brilliant has been so so successful as you all know and we are so proud of so yeah that Borodin has done a great job so I work as an advisor to dr. BK Modi dr. M yeah and whose of a funa president yeah and well funa actually is a is affiliated to the UN and the hundred UN Oh is United Nations associations 100 countries and it works on education programs all over and so it's amazing to be part of this of this group and with working with dr. M as the president of a funa and you know Eleanor Roosevelt has played a role there and Nelson Mandela used to be the buffoon of President as well marketed you know individuals for this charity who where is this education so they aren't happening so these are UN programs and UN syllabuses and they're running all over the world so they're mock Parliament sessions and they aim it so there's some fantastic things happening there and it's really an honor to play this role as well because I don't want to just play a political role right but my role in society and as a global citizen and some do you believes in the idea of at with you know there is no other no duality to go out and spread this message and as funa president dr. M is doing a great job by really encouraging and an you know create making the world a smaller place I like a global village so to speak so that is the idea you know you know we have United Nations here just at home in New York there's so many organizations that are working you know so closely with group of really passionate nra individuals or even Indians that are living here you know with Indians having such a huge huge global impact what according to you is there a role if we were to also you know contribute back to India to causes where do you think we should sort of you know shed some light on your personal opinion so you know as you know we can't really live in our silos if the world is interconnected you know and you see movements that are happening all over so if you see Facebook there is you know they if you see all I mean the big for the big five you know nation that the national boundaries do not matter people connect in different levels if you see so UN's role is huge really but – there are a lot of answers that are there that we're still looking for so I think as as empowered citizens responsible citizens we must look at their global identity and and and work on positive measures dr. BK Modi dr. him is doing exactly that and I think we will we'll be setting up some awards now UN Awards which will be like global citizen Awards you know global citizenship because we are so be always like that entity of my religion and your religion and my caste and your caste and my class and your class and my nation and your nation yeah so you know it must stop after a while yeah and we must see people as you know – the the prism of all the various identities and the artificial barriers that come in the way and see people for who they are connected a real real level so the funa with under dr. became more these presidentship it would do that and look at set up a new set of awards you know to classify people as global citizens and all of and recognize those who are doing good work internationally you know I know a lot of the work that you're doing now is political it's about public advocacy it's about really getting your voices out changing right women right but having such a close experience to the world of television and media especially in the news museum tell me about it why don't you take on you know the Indian media and as well as now that we have another five years how do you think the media should you know create content in order to truly reflect upon what India needs and to educate the community on how they can perhaps help what's your comment on that so you know I've been a news anchor primarily what is your like example that was a world yeah my entire universe so but I do I would be critical and I think it's important for everybody in media also to be critical of themselves because that's the only way to get better I think there is such a lot of importance being given to the binary politics you know this point of view or that point of view in India also it is Pro Modi and anti Modi you know there is so I think people have to look at real issues people have to get the objectivity back journalists must learn some lessons of neutrality the entire gender' the entire day long or the entire tenure long cannot be finding faults with one one individual with one party I think objectivity leads to credibility and credibility is a cornerstone of of news so without that you know nothing works so I'm not saying don't be critical of the government you must be but not in a not fit some visceral hatred but with a certain sense of impartiality yeah neutrality and you must have the gumption also to to see your own biases yeah and and also the honesty to see the good work and point it out even if it's being carried out by a government that you seem to dislike Wow quite asking for a balance here yes in media much needed I have one last question for you for someone who has experienced so much in her life yeah also has this books about many lives in my life yeah exactly as your action-packed life and you continue to empower so many more people you you know you've embarked on such a remarkable journey and right now you you're working in one of these strongest political parties in the world actually because we are the second largest you know population is no democracy no parties in the party the largest party nor just in India but in the entire world oh wow I if the membership drive that we have more they're not just sheer numbers so we are the biggest party guests Wow so you know my question to you would be how do you at this point just define success and what motivates you now nothing much has changed in me you know since so I just think you've played controls so but the substance of who you are remains the same and I remain deep down a person that helpless girl you know fighting injustice at some level or the other being a part of a world which is dedicated and committed to reducing biases making it easier and better for those who are who have to break the shackles so to speak so I remain that I I don't think that part of me has changed yes I play different roles I might be my effective now I might be more watched or followed now but that essentially remains the core of Who I am you know to be the voice for the voiceless so to speak and and I'm and all of us have to play a part including you and many others and yes and I think we're as far as women are concerned you see there is a huge potential which is just which which can be unleashed which can be huge which can which must be used to contribute to so many things and I feel that is happening now women are realizing that power yeah and it's it doesn't have to be the regressive sense of power but this gentle power effective power the power to just make your own decisions the power the the ability to be able to pursue higher education to choose your partner and and and you know and to say no to cruelty to domestic violence that power instead of just being prisoners of their own minds and their own conditioning so breaking conditioning social conditioning is very important a key to progress well thank you so much for your time such a pleasure having you I would love for you to give one last message for audience zero to the entire South Asian Diaspora in the u.s. we're so great well out all I'd like to say to all of you is that there are a lot of things that bother us we are far away from our countries many of you are far away from your countries of origin so instead of being enraged angry get engaged do something positive complaining doesn't help so you have to go out there and make a difference land like Mahatma Gandhi said you know be the change that you want to see and your life is your message the way you conduct your own life says a lot about how you want other lives to be and to be led thank you Jai Hindi thank you so much such a pleasure such a pleasure that you're a great interview thank you thank you and this is none other than Shazia ell me she's a spokesperson for party janta party such a truly a joy for all of us to have such a passionate advocate for women's rights gender equality and just such a sheer joy to see the Indian government really bring forth two voices and two advocates for all join us on the next episode of inside scoop I'm with a deal my signing off

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