If there is one thing that has defined my path in life, it has been my desire to serve. When I was young and a cub scout, and later a sea scout, the one thing that stuck with me was the bit about having a "duty to God, and to the Queen and to help other people." What I learnt was that a sense of duty to others could be cultivated, that it didn’t necessarily come naturally.
This recognition of duty, coupled with a strong sense of belonging to this community led me to enrol in the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Territorial Army. As an officer I had the honour of working for my homeland while leaning extremely valuable lessons about loyalty, companionship and leadership. Looking back on those days I realise what it is about service that appeals to me so profoundly. Finding something greater than oneself provides a reason to strive, to give our very best. It grounds us, allows us to look beyond narrow, selfish perspectives, and cements our bonds with those around us. These bonds have been fundamental throughout my professional life.
My business roles in the family business, my own retail store, as well as my involvement with the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses have broadened and deepened these bonds. I need to add that my father, Krishna, has been the ideal role model for me and helped me aspire for a better Gibraltar. Even though he didn't enter the world of politics I know he would have done wonders for the people had he done so. His work with the Hindu Merchants Association and the Chamber of Commerce were good examples. Ultimately, I believe I am in this race for the right reasons: To strive for the common good of my people.
As a candidate, I believe wholeheartedly in the core values of the Together Gibraltar. I am a progressive, forward thinking individual, with a firm belief that a fairer and more transparent administration will allow our people to truly flourish, and I am firmly committed to helping achieve a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. But the value I most identify with is the democratic ethos. More than ever democracy needs daily attention. Citizens want this and, in my opinion, deserve this. At work I meet hundreds of individuals daily who agree with the concern that the current system is run by an elite, serving the interests of a few. Many feel disconnected and what we need is a system that meets the needs of the majority. We need to focus more on the quality of life of the people of this community and craft a new vision for Gibraltar that is more attuned with the wishes of its people.
An inclusive and progressive democratic society is everyone's ideal, yet I know it will be a highly challenging one to achieve. We need to approach this challenge with hope and confidence. Hope that we will find a way to better ourselves like we have so many times in the past, and confidence that our people will continue to exceed the worlds expectations with audacity and determination.
I am a people person, I empathize easily. From conversations with my customers I have come to realise that people want to be treated fairly. And they want to be included in the process. I have also realised that there are solutions and that after a negotiation both sides can be happy.
I believe Together Gibraltar will prove that politics can be done differently by being available, by being in touch. I want to help destroy the cynicism that surrounds the world of politics by being attentive, receptive and available.
I also take pride in being the eternal student. I understand that I have a great deal to learn, and I am eager to rise to that challenge. I know that it will take time, energy and dedication to be a trusted candidate both before and after the election, but with my appetite for knowledge and my strong desire to serve the community, I’m sure this journey will be extremely fulfilling.
The timing is right. On a personal level I feel that with the support of my family, and the help of my work colleagues, I can now take on these responsibilities in a more direct way. And as for Gibraltar politically I also feel the time is right for change. Furthermore, from what I have gathered in my many interactions with members of the community, many Gibraltarians agree with me wholeheartedly.
I have a bolder vision for Gibraltar than most, but it’s tempered with an affinity for pragmatism. The message from me is that Gibraltar Deserves Better. A more diverse and inclusive economy, with a clear strategy that is both outward facing and also inward facing - encouraging local businesses to grow and stretch. Better in healthcare and education. I feel strongly about Gibraltar’s economic strategy, or lack of it. We need a Government that develops and cultivates a long-term strategy in consultation with all stakeholders to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
However, we need to hear, and acknowledge, the hard truths about what it will take to get us there. I have had too many people tell me that Gibraltarians are not willing to pay the price for success. That we are not willing to do what it takes. I beg to differ. We are a proud and generous people, but we need real leadership. Leadership that looks and speaks like our community and understands their priorities.
My vision will encompass a future of quiet confidence in ourselves, our home and what we aspire to become. When we travel abroad, we should hear people express admiration for what we Gibraltarians stand for and what we do, and there should be a glimmer of envy that we could be so lucky to be Gibraltarian. I certainly feel this pride and will put it to work if selected by the membership.