“Politics is transient for me; writing is perpetual...”

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Saturday, September 9, 2017

One of those few politicians whose speeches and poems have won the hearts of masses alike - in India as well as abroad; one of those who could carve a niche for themselves not only in the art of politicking but also in the skill of writing poetry... Yes, he is Dr Kumar Vishwas - a poet in Hindi, a politician, and a National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party. Both - his speeches and his poems have motivated people and attracted a huge fan-following amongst all classes of people.

On Friday, September 8, the Indian Cultural Society invited Dr Kumar Vishwas to perform and mesmerise the Indian community in Kuwait. His love for literature and passion for the Hindi language, were amply visible in his splendid recitations.

Dr Kumar Vishwas pleasantly agreed to speak exclusively with the IIK, in a one-to-one conversation with Dr Navniit Gandhi. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Dr Navniit Gandhi: It is a pleasure to welcome you on your first visit to Kuwait!!! The Indian community here has thoroughly enjoyed your renditions in the AIS’s auditorium on September 8.

Dr Kumar Vishwas: Yes, thank you very much for the warm welcome and the gracious reception. It is my first visit to Kuwait and oh! It has been quite an experience. I have loved performing here...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: How was the progression from Engineering to Literature to Politics? What happened first - Activism or Poetry?

Dr Kumar Vishwas: It was certainly poetry... I had attempted to write a few verses and couplets while in school itself. However, my father - just as most parents those days, aspired that I became an Engineer and I was enrolled in an engineering college against my wishes. Well, as I had known - I could not do it and I dropped out of college. Against their wishes, I chose to graduate and then post-graduate in literature. I cleared the NET, and joined a College in Rajasthan as - an Asst. Professor and later in the year 2000 I shifted to a college in Delhi and went on to become an Associate Professor. I have taught for nearly 17 years and it is only in 2011 that I quit teaching to join the movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare.

Politics, has been a relatively recent area of activity. I became active during the anti-corruption crusade led by Anna Hazare and picked up from there. I was very clear on this though, that I will not hold any position in the government. I had a role to play in the formation of the government but I nevertheless, treated it all as an experiment. And there should be experiments in politics... because therein lies growth.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: However, was leaving the job and immersing full-time into poetry and motivational talks, not a big risk?

Dr Kumar Vishwas: I did not take the plunge at one go... All throughout studying and teaching, I was writing poetry and had begun participating in Kavi Sammelans and Mushairas. Of course, initially, poets were paid pittance and there was not much recognition either. Till the year 2000, I too was following the beaten track and read my poems as others used to read and accepted even a little less than what others were paid. Struggle was an integral part of a person passionate about literature. Gradually, as I increased my participation in the literary activities and succeeded in reaching out to large audiences, that my wife and I decided that we could sustain ourselves without me working on a full-time job and afford taking the risk.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Yes, your style as well your outreach has been distinct...

Dr Kumar Vishwas: One important reason which inspired me to devote completely to poetry was that when I used to attend Kavi Sammelans, I always found very senior people on both sides of the platform. The poets and the audience - both belonged to a senior age group and that is when it struck me that I should involve the youth into it. I thought about it and felt that the emotions felt by the younger generation were not being enveloped by the senior poets. The emotions felt by the young girls and boys were quite simple and their issues were simple too.

By keeping the language simple, as would be understood by all kinds of listeners, and by reciting in an entertaining musical style, I drew the young audiences towards me. By the year 2002, I began to approach Engineering colleges and propose holding my programs, for I knew that those students had the IQ to follow poetry though nobody had tried to arouse their interest towards this field. At first, their interest was lukewarm but later, they were so much drawn to it that they have begun to enjoy immensely. I have tried to reach across to as large a spectrum as possible. I have travelled to the states in South India and the North-East and organized shows everywhere and have received huge applause. My use of the social media to reach out to the wide world of listeners, though initially disapproved by the senior litterateurs, is now being followed by them also. I was the first poet in Hindi to initiate activism on FB, Orkut, youtube and used blogs, web-portals and online platforms to reach out and all of it has been tremendously successful. I thus created my own audience and my very own arena, which is different from the traditional domain.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: How have you managed to reconcile Politics with Poetry? One requires a practical disposition, while the other requires a sensitive and a sentimental one...

Dr Kumar Vishwas: I do not plan or intend to firmly cling to any career in politics. Politics is transient, while reading and writing is forever. It is Literature which is my true lifeline. Writing is what my soul is into and it shall stay with me forever. Whether I survive and retain myself in Politics is a question mark. My nature is also such that I candidly give my opinions and speak fearlessly even on controversial matters. I give my forthright views, whether it is the Triple Talaq issue or the Gurmeet Ram Rahim Baba episode... I was one of the first politicians to say that he ought to be put behind bars and his assets confiscated and the losses to property recovered from him. I often get into trouble too, because of my blunt expressions... Hence my fate is uncertain... as long as it goes, I will go with it... Let us see how it works out.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: What have you visualised for yourself in the years ahead? In which field do you prospose to make forays?

Dr Kumar Vishwas: All my inclinations and plans are in the realm of Literature. My much-awaited collection of poetry- Fir Meri Yaad shall be released shortly and though it is my third book and that too, after a long gap of ten years---am hopeful that it shall be as well-received as the other two have been. My previous Book Koi Deewaana Kehta Hai has been a best-seller and am hopeful for this one too. I am also writing scripts for films and two of them could be on the floor early next year...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: What is your take on the Youth of our country? Politically as well as in terms of reading, there seems to be a declining interest...

Dr Kumar Vishwas: I am very hopeful about the involvement and participation of our youth. As far as politics is concerned, I do not think that their interest is waning. Rather, if you observe our voting percentage - it has risen from 40-50% to nearly 70-80%... A large percentage of youth comes forward to vote and also participates in discussion and debate. They are quite aware of what is happening and do hold distinct opinions on every issue. And even in terms of literary activities, one finds a large number of budding writers and poets in literary festivals and the future seems very promising. I am very hopeful...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: We hope so too that the young and the sensitive take a keen interest in political, economic, literary and other matters and make a marked positive difference... We wish you too the very best in all your endeavours ahead... May you keep enthralling audiences with your writings and performances.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, and a freelance writer/columnist. She has been writing extensively for several newspapers, magazines, web-portals and academic publications and has authored five Books, till date.
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