He’s a true visionary and his versatility, vitality and passion are infectious. Raised in jet-set privilege, Bengaluru District Youth Congress General Secretary, 27-year-old Mohammed Haris Nalapad, son of NA Haris, MLA from Shantinagar is our young, promising and dapper cover boy who talks about how he looks to his dad for inspiration and the steps he’s taking to deal with the issues affecting the youth in the city.
Text by Namita Gupta
Location Courtesy: ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru
Photos by Sandeep MV and Preetham HR
Make up: Batul Lakdawala
Hair: Rimene Maizi
When and how did you realise that you wanted to offer your time and services for the society around you?
Every child is usually asked in school on what they want to be when they grow up. I would always say that I wanted to be the Prime Minister of India even when I was in school and I still cherish that dream. Somehow my dreams were dwindling after I went to Dubai for my college, as I was nourishing dreams of getting into business and didn’t want to return to India. But soon I found my calling in politics as everyone in my family, including my granddad (NA Mohhamad) and my dad (NA Haris, Managing Director of Nalapad Group of Companies, a businessman-turned politician), have always been inclined towards politics. My father always tells me that a man who lives for himself is not a great person. If you have aspirations to become a great person you have to do something for the society at large. I will always remember his words that politics is a thankless job and you might do ten good things for someone and no one will remember that, but one do one wrong that and you will be ridiculed and doomed. One has to keep giving and doing good for others and I’ve found my joy in giving. I’m now a happier person giving back to the society.
After completing your education from Australia and Dubai, you have been working towards the growth of the Nalapad Group International and the NA Haris Foundation and then followed your dad’s footsteps. Were there any challenges that came your way and how did you overcome those challenges?
I returned after my studies at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia and Emirates Academy of Hospitality, Dubai and started working with my dad. We were starting the Nalapad Academy then and the construction started under my supervision. My dad being the MLA of Shantinagar, had to attend multiple functions in a day and attend to many issues in his area, so I started going out with him to understand the issues that were prevailing and the challenges that people were facing. But at the same time there was another challenge I had to face. Initially, the people wouldn’t accept me and would wonder who is this guy coming to help them. The challenge was to show them my worth and not garner all the respect just because I am the son of NA Haris, but because I am genuinely there to stand up for their problems and help give solutions. I was being compared with my dad and for me to fill those shoes was a humungous task. Soon everyone saw the worth in me and when I started taking their problems as my problems, we touched their hearts and they realised I was not just an MLA’s son, but one with a big heart who cares for them and has leadership qualities. I wasn’t doing this for any ulterior motives but because I was genuinely enjoying being with people and helping them out. I contested the Youth Congress election in 2017 and was elected as the Number One General Secretary Bengaluru district. Now when I go out instead of my father not only am I accepted, I’m also loved by everyone.
I wasn’t doing this for any ulterior motives but because I was genuinely enjoying being with people and helping them out
Can you share some of your biggest achievements so far?
In 2017 Bengaluru had the highest record in the history of rain. We are a low-lying area and there are a lot of slums in Bengaluru and those are mostly in between all the developed areas. In Shanti Nagar there are five slums and people live in difficult conditions and when there’s heavy rain, the water gets flooded as our drainage systems are a few decades old. There was a time when it was continuously raining for five days and the people living there needed help to clear water from their homes. We not just helped them clear out the water and gave them food, but also stayed with them. This was one of the many things we did selflessly, besides many other things where I went to the grassroots level and looked at their scenario from their perspective and helped them.
I’ve also taken up the issue of addressing the drug menace in Bengaluru with my anti-drug campaign. Drugs are being used and consumed at the early age of 14 and if this is the way it goes then it can completely wreak havoc in the lives of the youth. If we don’t take any strict action now we will be the youngest society in the country that is not in the right frame of their minds. I’m doing my bit to create awareness about the effects drugs can create in our lives. Most of them are taking action and going into rehab only after the damage is done. It might be too late then. Prevention is better than cure and that’s why creating awareness is our aim and we have already reached over 30,000 people with the help of hosting conferences in schools and colleges.
Also, youth is a time when one is full of abundant energy that one has to direct towards constructive purposes. We need to create alternate sources of enjoyment for our youth so that they deviate from any temptations of consuming drugs. We need to encourage them to play sports. If they can participate in any healthy activity, it will help them to lead a good life. I want to start with awareness and closely work with the government and encourage the youth to take part in sports. My father is the President of the Karnataka State Football Association and we are doing multiple things to promote the sport. Football is a widely loved game and we want to spot raw talent, teach them all the technicalities and bring them to international standards. With 1.3 billion people in India, it’s high time we do justice to the sport of football.
Also, on World Disabled Day last year, we had over 50 disabled kids and seven teams from across the state for the NA Haris Foundation soccer night. All of them felt like real footballers. We also gave them the jerseys and they felt wonderful to be accepted in the society. I don’t like to call them disabled, they are differently abled and they need their recognition in the society.
We also hosted the International Women’s Day again in 2017. We have been hosting and honouring women from different genres including the pourakarmikas and gave them gifts and made them feel special. They’re doing a thankless job and we took that initiative in 2016 and in 2017 to honour women from all genres and got entrepreneur women and businesswomen, housewives and specially talented people on the same platform. The highlight was the lady metro drivers who were also honoured. We gave gifts to more than 15,000 women that day from the lower strata of the society.
What’s your daily schedule like and who do you thank for where you’re standing today?
I cannot start my day without thanking the women in my life – my grandmother, my mother Thahira Haris and my wife Samreen. We spend such little time with them but still they continue to be our backbone and our support system. My wife belongs to this modern generation, yet she’s always supportive and completely stands by me. I meet hundreds of people everyday and might have mood swings sometimes, but she takes care of the house and me and is a blessing. My dad has been kind enough to give me what he’s given. I consider myself lucky and count my blessings that I didn’t really have to struggle and build my business. My dad has worked for it and I need to sustain and develop it. Hospitality is our core business while we’re also into real estate, construction, education, health care and plantations. I attend a lot of functions and I’m always working on the development of my business. I believe that in politics one should always be giving and not taking. Unless and until my business didn’t allow me to make enough money for ourselves and our families, we would not have been able to help others through politics.
You have always been a sports lover. Please share all the activities that you’re doing to promote sports and football.
Apart from promoting football and honing young talent at the Karnataka State Football Association, we are also working towards the Santosh trophy which is a prestigious tournament; it’s like the Ranji trophy of cricket. This year we are hosting the tournament under the leadership of NA Haris. We have team owners and stake holders and we are doing it in a big way. The Santosh Trophy will kick off in Bengaluru on January 17 onwards at the Football Stadium.
Do you think you might be missing out on all the fun in your life like others your age, while you’re spending your precious time for the service of the society and the people at large?
I’m 27 and I try to maintain a good balance between all the three. I take out time for Sunday brunches and sundowners with friends and try to spend time with my family, whenever I can. Giving to the society is more pleasing and satisfying than having a good night out with friends. One needs to balance both and set one’s priorities right. Yes, there are certain sacrifices one has to make, but no development happens without sacrificing some of your personal pleasures. My priority is working hard towards a better society. The feeling of giving is bigger than any other feeling in the world. Work life balance is when you need to have an upper hand of giving. My priorities are to build a better society and for that I need to become a part of the government and I have to strive hard towards that goal. One cannot change the world overnight. I have to work with like-minded people for that, be a part of active politics and then go a long way.
What are your other passions?
I have a great passion for cars, watches, clothes and looking good. Although I do sport luxury brands, my style statement is always about “Comfort First”. I wear whatever I feel good in. I never dress for anyone. I dress for myself.
What gives you the adrenaline rush? Are you into adventure sports or adventure travel? Which are your favourite holiday destinations?
I’m an adventure junkie and have tried sky diving, bungee jumping, scuba diving, deep sea diving, paragliding, parasailing, rappelling and angry birds on a stream. I’m into extreme sports and I also play all the games. I was awarded the best player for state in school. I was also the state captain for hockey and also football and basketball. I believe that sports and activities can change your perspective towards life. One must have discipline in life and set your priorities right. If your priority is keeping your family happy, do it right. Even if one wants to be a homemaker, or if one wants to be the richest person in the world, one has to set their priorities right. I would also like to urge the youngsters to keep giving those in need, inculcate sharing and caring in their lives while surging ahead.
My priority is working hard towards a better society. The feeling of giving is bigger than any other feeling in the world
What are your future plans for a better tomorrow, a better Bengaluru and a better India?
I’m working on an agenda. I want to scale great heights in my field and become the prime minister of the nation and I’m working hard towards my dream.