They say that ‘still waters run deep’. Shishir Joshi, CEO – MUMBAI FIRST is a living example of a genius with profound wisdom coupled with action. As Mumbai First’s youngest CEO, Shishir actively collaborates with Civil society groups, local and Federal government institutions as well as its international partners such as the European Union, World Bank, IMF, just to name a few, to achieve desired results. Quiet, sharp and extremely observant, his eyes notice everything. His heart beats for every ground reality faced by common citizens. This epitome of transformational leadership showed us that uniting citizens through a cause can stir a revolution. His project HAMARA STATION, HAMARI SHAAN saw 25000+ volunteers supported by 100 institutions who participated in a beautification drive across 36 railway stations in Mumbai. All this within a span of 7 days in October 2016!
The project was a combined effort by Mumbai First and Making a Difference Foundation (M.A.D). Haresh Shah founder of M.A.D., Shishir and their respective teams, planned the project to coincide with the JOY of GIVING Week, popularly known as Daanutsav.
My first meeting with Shishir was about a decade and a half ago, at TV Today. He remains a friend while I have turned into a fan.
His Twitter bio says: It ain’t happened till it ain’t happened 🙂
Here is a man who has been a journalist for 25 years where he occupied key positions in prominent publications. As Group Editorial Director of Mid-day, he was instrumental in the make-over of the newspaper to make it more contemporary in design and content. Before that, he headed the Western Region of the TV Today Network as its Executive Director. As a full-time journalist, he has also been associated with CNN.com, NDTV and Indian Express. He ensured that he gives back to journalism and society in a multi-fold manner. He co-founded Journalism Mentor, a student programme focussed on promoting excellence. I was lucky to interact with this legend who shed light on this project that has positively impacted every train traveller in Mumbai.
What were you and Haresh thinking when you started the Hamara Station Hamari Shaan project?
Honestly? Nothing big. I have been a Daanutsav volunteer for a while now. All of us just set out to make a difference in the life of an ordinary Mumbaikar. Log judte gaye, caravan banta gaya. Our intent was clear and it had a domino effect.
From the time I shared the project HSHS with my Mumbai First team and the Mumbai First governing board, what I got was, unconditional support and wholesome backing. There are so many people who I want to thank. You must read my blog post on HSHS to know more.
Your thoughts on the outcome of HSHS…
Through beautification of railway stations, we know we haven’t created artwork that is world class in the eyes of some critics. That was never the intention and never the claim either. We have managed to seek a behavioural change. These 25000+ people now have a sense of ownership towards their city. They will not deface. They will hopefully step up to prevent a million others.
“Why do you stop me from spitting? Tumhare baap ka station hai kya?”
“Baap ka nahi, hamara hai. Humney paint kia hai”
Tell us about your recent visit to Spain…
I was invited there in my capacity as CEO of Mumbai First which has been acknowledged as one of the world’s best practice models of Public Private partnerships by not only the Indian Ministry of Urban Development but also the World Bank.
Team HAMARA STATION, HAMARI SHAAN acknowledges the work of all the volunteers who participated in the project. I presented HSHS as a unique Public Private People Partnership model at the World Cities and Economy Forum in Bilbao Spain on November 21, 2016. The joy was multi-fold since I was the only one invited from India to present a PPPP project. It is a sign of success for our teams.
It was an honour to share the stage with Juan Aburto Mayor of Bilbao, Michael Koh Centre for liveable cities – Singapore, Merrill Pond – The partnership for New York City, John Dickie, strategy head – City of London. Jon Azua CEO – innovating labs moderated by Hazem Galal Global cities leader PWC.
What are the various other initiatives that you are involved with?
Over the years, empowering Indians through a citizen Journalism model of learning has become an extension of what I do, in whichever manner I can hope to achieve. Wearing multiple not-for-profit hats, including Engage the Citizen Foundation and Muskaan-Sharing smiles, I have managed to take this role forward.
I am a counsellor and was part of the launch team that started a free counselling service at St. Michael’s Church in Mahim, every Wednesday. I also conduct corporate counselling sessions and play the role of a crisis communications expert for several corporates. Training people for citizen journalism is my biggest stress buster.
In a full-time role as CEO of Mumbai First, I have been fulfilling another desire. making Mumbai a Better Place to Live and Work.
Tell me something about Mumbai First…
Mumbai First is one of the best examples of Public Private Partnership in our country. It is our vision to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Mumbai and improve the economic and social fabric of the city. In short, to transform Mumbai / Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) into a world-class city, one of the best places in which to live and do business in. Big business houses and financial institutions have made contributions to create a corpus for the functioning of Mumbai First.
Mumbai First fulfils its role mission by researching, catalysing, advocating and networking to build a better city. The institution has done some amazing work. I would like as many like-minded citizens to come on board and support it.We are working on another interesting project for the visually impaired with IIT Delhi, BEST and Mumbai First.
I ask my self: What have I done for my city TODAY?
So, you are a law graduate who turned down an offer from the army to choose journalism. And here you are today, sculpting Mumbai…
Sculpting Mumbai…? That’s too huge a credit and am surely not the least worthy of it. The Mumbai of yesterday and today has some great change makers. I can name so many. They are all so inspiring. However, I always knew I wanted to do two things, be a journalist and change the world for the better. So, when I quit active journalism, I decided to participate in various initiatives that allowed me to make some changes in our society.
Do you miss journalism?
Yes, I do miss it. My maternal grandmother was the first working woman journalist of Karnataka state. I was extremely inspired by her. Maybe that is how I naturally chose journalism. However, moving away from journalism was a conscious decision. I opted out. I have been fortunate with all the opportunities I have got. Privileged to have been associated with institutions and people I have worked with. Every turn in life has given me a new outlook. Grateful for that. Do I miss journalism? Glamour of TV? Yes, I do. But I feel what I am doing now is equally if not more important and critical. Joining dots and being a catalyst in the change process.
What is the mantra of your life?
I don’t have mantras, nor do I have a bucket list. I love to ask myself each day: What have I done for my city TODAY?
An incident that touched your heart during HSHS?
There were many. Right from the selfless participation shown by the volunteers to the enthusiasm shown by institutions – everything was overwhelming. HSHS has brought citizens together, more importantly, infused a sense of belief that together. A lot can happen for the better. Personally, it has inspired me to take on one more and bigger challenge. Watch this space for an announcement soon.
The HSHS project is a perfect example of how small changes can make a huge difference to the society. Here’s wishing that Mumbai sees many more such positive changes that makes this city a better place to live.
Is there a social cause that you believe in? Let me know how you have contributed to make a difference. Reach out to Shishir if you want to be part of the Mumbai First movement.
Did HUMARA STATION, HUMARI SHAAN impact the lives of a Mumbaikar? Well, it did impact someone I know…
Me: “Yadavji, aapko Mumbai ke railway station pe kuch farak maloom padh raha hai kya?”
My driver: “Safai dikti hai madam.”
“Haan, udhar bada bada painting kiya hai, issiliye log kam thukte hai”
– As told to Mayura Amarkant
Let me know whether you noticed that the railway stations of Mumbai have turned colourful. Do take a moment to salute the 25 K volunteers of HAMARA STATION HUMARI SHAAN heir untiring efforts.
If you have a message for Team HSHS or Shishir Joshi, do let me know in the comments section, I will convey it to them. Don’t forget to like and share the post if it touched your heart.
This is the 13th interview in the #StayInspired series. Here are the rest:
- #StayInspired – 1: Dreams keep people alive
- #StayInspired: Marriage is a warm & intimate cocoon
- #StayInspired: Born today, 4 Inspiring people
- #StayInspired: When I was 13, my grandma wanted to marry me off
- #StayInspired: God rejected my death
- #StayInspired: Meet the Dhoni of Indian Corp Comm & PR
- #StayInspired: He is the original TaxiMan of India.
- #StayInspired: The ‘Vamana’ of Alternative Medicine
- #StayInspired: Making Indian education ‘student-friendly’: Meet the new-age Lord Macaulay
- #StayInspired: Ram Kamal Mukherjee – Beyond Bollywood and Biographies.