If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
We all have seen this quoted innumerable times and read it in too many writings. But this magnificent poem by Rudyard Kipling remains far from being a bromide and tells us the importance of persistence and self-belief. It is very easy for anyone to preach such virtues but those who epitomize them in real life are few and far between. The above poem can easily be a tribute to Narendra Modi, but here is another person I would associate this with too, and I knew him better than I knew Narendra Modi. For, Shashi Shekhar or Offstumped as the way lot of people know him is the person who introduced me to Narendra Modi.
I started reading (and writing too!) blogs pretty early since their inception and I think it was in year 2007 that I chanced upon his blog. Shashi was writing a blog named Offstumped on an online platform called Indian National Interest(INI). It was an aggregating platform of blogs by (then) like minded individuals who wrote on multiple topics of national interest including politics, defense, International policies etc. Offstumped was majorly focusing on politics with a right of center approach and how it has to be adopted to the Indian political context. It was not the first time that I was reading a right-wing blog, I have been reading couple of folks like the ruthless Rajeev Srinivasn and fierce Sandeep Balakrishna who have been doing a great job with their blogs. While Rajeev’s writings had a majorly international context, Sandeep’s focus lied on hard core fight with left-lib’s false propaganda on Hindus. But what struck me about Shashi’s writings was the relevance he brought with Indian political scenario and how the center-right approach can be applied to change the status quo. He wrote with great semblance and not once would try to force an argument down with brute force or word play. His POV’s were always based on the principles he would lay out and he would never go the route of convenience and opportunism to establish his view of liking. I read him with great interest and read him consistently. Some where in 2009, he came out of the INI platform (given the Indian political scenario, it was always on cards) and started blogging on his own blogspot site.
Then came the general elections of 2009 and the Offstumped blog has become a major platform for all the right wing Indians who were hoping for a change in the guard at center. The passion and fierce dedication Shashi brought in at that time was to be experienced to be believed. He would de-construct all the malicious media articles that were being churned by the left-lib pundits with irrefutable rejoinders while at the same time write about the policies on which the proposed right of center approach should build the nation. During the process he has also introduced me to Narendra Modi and the great work he has been doing in Gujarat on the principle of “minimum government and maximum governance”. Shashi covered the elections, state and constituency wise, day and night, with a super-human effort. It is during this time that the main stream media could no longer ignore this online phenomena but instead of recognizing its true potential they came up with derisive terms like “Internet Hindus”. And if you ask me, Shashi’s blog was the major cause of heart burn to them in those days. The activity on the Offstumped blog has generated so much enthusiasm and hope that most of us believed that a BJP victory was certainly on the cards. But alas, the polls were not to be held online and the results brought with them a crushing reality. I was personally so disappointed and was really not sure what direction the Offstumped would go.
But then Shashi was not the one to give up, he started from scratch again, built a new umbrella of all pervasive right of center thinking at his new website offstumped.in and continued writing about how the task has to be taken forward for next elections. Shashi has been a great believer in Narendra Modi’s abilities right from the beginning and did yeoman service in highlighting his achievements. It was only because of Shashi’s writngs and rejoinders to malicious media articles that people like me were able to understand the reality and separate truth from propaganda. His writings have brought forth all the right reasons for supporting Modi and explained why one has to take media reports with a pinch of salt. And to think that an IT professional who was working with one of the most demanding companies in that field was able to spend so much effort on doing this was unimaginable for me. So when I got to know that this IIT Bombay graduate was working as a hard core technology guy all the while and has multiple technology patents to his credit, I was left astounded and my respect for him grew much more. Shashi eventually left his IT job and took up a full time position with an up-start online media platform called NitiCentral as it’s Chief Digital Officer. He then went on to build first-of-it’s kind volunteer platform in India for Narendra Modi’s mission 272 initiative. As he got busy with these activities, he started writing fewer blogs and would only post an occational article on NitiCentral. I was missing his blogs but was happy to know that the cause was greater.
And today, as he stands vindicated after an unrelenting fight of so many years, I am much happier. It even forced me to write this post on my blog after so much time that I stopped writing. I certainly hope to meet him some day but now I take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart for the amount of education and inspiration I received from him. I am sure even Narendra Modi would join me in this.
(PS: Shashi would often write in his blogs that he wants to move to Ahmedabad and settle there. But now that Modi has moved to Delhi, I would hope to see Shashi move there even if temporarily and occupy one of those Lutyen’s buildings to make them worthy:))