Rajeev Chandrasekhar is an Independent MP in Rajya Sabha from Bangalore, Karnataka, elected for a second term in 2012, unopposed and unanimously supported by all major political parties. He supports and is part of the NDA coalition and is currently Vice Chairman NDA in Kerala. He was part of the Opposition between 2006-2014.
Rajeev - Son of an Armed Forces Family
Son of an Air Force Officer, Rajeev has lived his childhood as most service children do. A life of constant movement from one remote area of India to another and being schooled in various Kendriya Vidyalayas in and around cantonments and Air Force bases. He is, therefore an MP whose identity is primarily that of being an Indian – born in Ahmedabad to Malayali parents, growing up living in different parts of the country and considering Bengaluru his home, having spent almost three decades in the city. As he says himself, “the first time I was aware of my caste, religious or lingua identity was when I joined politics- since being brought up in the Armed Forces leaves you focusing on just one identity - of being Indian.”
Being from a service family and living amongst the warriors of the Air Force and Armed Forces all through his growing years has left him with a deep, abiding commitment to the cause of Armed Forces and the men, women, and families who serve and have served. This has also defined his Parliamentary career as being about National and Public service.
Unusual for a politician, his office in New Delhi is covered only with images of ParamVir Chakra Bravehearts. He says, “Seeing them every day as a politician reminds me of the acts, deeds, and lives of real heroes who have served our Nation and inspires me to do more every day.” Under the title of #ServingOurNation, he has spearheaded a large number of initiatives for Veterans, Widows, Families and serving Armed Forces personnel – ranging from One Rank, One Pension, National War Memorial, voting rights for Armed Forces personnel, Housing, ECHS, 7th CPC, financial aid to widows and children of the martyrs and is deeply engaged on these issues that affect the men, women and their families who make up the backbone of our Armed Forces and Veteran community. He is often referred to as the Guardian MP of Veterans and Armed Forces and continues to advocate their cause consistently in and outside Parliament.
Through his foundation - Flags of Honour, he reaches out to the families of Armed Forces’ martyrs ensuring them of financial and social assistance and keeping the service and sacrifice of each Braveheart alive in public memory. It is on Rajeev’s initiative that Independent India's first War Memorial is coming up in Bengaluru. It was his relentless campaign and later a petition in the Supreme Court that led to Armed Forces personnel getting the right to vote in their place of posting in the 2014 General Elections and further electoral reforms to bring the facility of e-Postal Ballot to Armed Forces. After the Uri Terror attack in September 2016, he was the first MP in India to have challenged the MFN status granted to Pakistan and submitted a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha to Declare Pakistan a Terror State.
Rajeev was felicitated by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Bar) with the GOC-in-C Commendation Card at HQ Western Command, Chandigarh for his support and work for the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.
Rajeev and Technology
Rajeev is an MP with deep knowledge, experience and an extensive background in Technology and Entrepreneurship. Rajeev is an alumnus of Manipal Institute of Technology, graduating with high ranked Bachelors in Electrical Engineering; Alumnus of Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago with MS in Computer Science.
He is a passionate techie and has a wide-ranging experience starting with working on the early Internet and Unix systems in the late 80’s. During and immediately after his MS studies in Chicago, he was at various times a prolific software coder specializing in Compilers and Operating systems; systems designer working on Multiprocessor Unix systems and a research assistant working on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and a tutor to undergraduate computer science students.
Post his MS, he was offered positions at Microsoft and Intel amongst other companies and was wooed by Vinod Dham - father of the Pentium chip – who hand-picked him to work at Intel in Santa Clara, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. At Intel, he started as a Design Engineer as part of 80486 Architecture Verification Team where he also built the first software simulator for the Microprocessor. He was subsequently a member of the Architecture and Design team for next Generation Pentium Processors. Those years that Rajeev spent at Intel were, in his words “the years when the Internet and the world as we know today was being conceived and built in various small/medium companies around the Silicon Valley by some of the brightest and most motivated people I have been fortunate to meet”. It was here that he had the unique opportunity to meet, observe and learn from the best and brightest like Andy Grove, Bob Noyce, Gordon Moore, Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Les Kohn, Larry Ellison, John Crawford and others – oblivious to the fact that he was watching history being scripted!
In the early 1990s, he returned to India – first on a leave of absence from Intel and then permanently to explore the story of the new India that was being talked about. He became an accidental Entrepreneur – setting up one of India’s first mobile cellular networks and without doubt India’s largest cellular network BPL Mobile, in a very adverse and challenging business, policy and regulatory environment and very unique technology challenges. With little or no experience in telecommunications, Rajeev, and his team executed this with a home grown team consisting of people from the Armed Forces, Government Telecom departments and young professionals raring for a challenge and built a team of one of the finest telecom managers and executives in the country. Many of them have since gone on to senior leadership roles in the domestic and international telecom sectors.
Rajeev is known as the poster boy of India’s telecom revolution and is widely recognized for his role in the development of the now thriving telecom sector. In 2005, he decided to exit the telecom sector and sold his investments to what eventually became Hutchison and then Vodafone. When he exited, he was quoted as saying, “I have spent 10 years building this sector, and it seems that requirements are now how to lobby in Delhi for free spectrum etc. and I am not good at that and nor do I want to do that.” The years of the famous 2G scam happened after Rajeev exited, making his decision to exit a prescient one.
Recognition for his Technology work includes multiple plaques from Intel, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Vishweswarya Technical University in Karnataka and the Illinois Institute of Technology's Global Service Alumni Association Honour.
Rajeev as Investor
In 2005, he set up Jupiter Capital, with a vision to foray into businesses of tomorrow in emerging new markets of the globalizing economy of India. Currently, the only position he occupies is that of Chairman, Jupiter Capital, which was established with an initial investment of US$100 million and today has investments and managed assets of over 1 Billion USD ranging from technology to transportation, logistical services to hospitality and entertainment. Jupiter Capital marks his complete transition from Techie to Manager to Investor. Jupiter Capital has a team of professional managers that run the day to day operations and investments.
Jupiter Capital has been successful in its investments and has earned a solid reputation of spotting opportunities and good managements/promoters with its diverse portfolio of investee companies and creating valuable, innovative and successful brands and franchises.
Rajeev recognizes he is a Member of Parliament who also earns his income from business investments. As such he ensures that he adheres scrupulously to all disclosures of Assets and Interests required by Parliament and Parliamentary Committees. He has gone further and, for example, puts all his communication to Governments past and present on his website. He has earned and built an impeccable record of service and integrity in sharp contrast from many other businessmen turned MPs whose conduct that has unfortunately cast a shadow on businessmen who try and enter Politics. For purposes of clarity, all investee companies have their Boards, Chairpersons, and Managements who are responsible for these companies, and neither Jupiter Capital nor Rajeev is responsible in any way for these companies or their operations.
Rajeev served as the youngest President of FICCI - India’s apex industry chamber in 2008-09. He was the first to strongly advocate Governance reforms and caused FICCI to initiate, way back in 2008, a series of seminars on Governance reforms, including a Conference on Administrative Reforms and Ethics in Governance which for the first time, brought the Government and industry together on the same platform to discuss the need to reform Government.
His success as an entrepreneur and investor is the reason he believes in the future of India lying in Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. It’s a cause he evangelizes to young Indians all over and he targets neglected and ignored youngsters with his help and mentorship. He has invested resources and time to identify young entrepreneurs across India, including in the neglected parts of the North East. The overwhelming response of young entrepreneurs to his initiative for nurturing entrepreneurs in Nagaland will soon see this programme extend to Karnataka and Kerala.
Rajeev has repeatedly shown that he is unafraid to speak his mind and even take on the government on policy issues. A strong votary of good governance through institutional reforms, he has been vocal and articulate on issues of reforms, governance, and economy inside and outside Parliament.
Rajeev’s political work focuses on protecting Bengaluru and Bengalureans’ interests with Urban Governance issues, Transforming India through Governance and Economic reforms, Veteran and Armed Forces issues, Protecting our Children etc. For causes he believes in and supports, he has - apart from raising these in Parliament, actively approached the courts to intervene on behalf of citizens as in the case of Sec 66A, Aadhaar privacy issues and voting rights for Armed Forces. He is an active MP and his work and its effects are available through periodic report cards
He is widely recognized as the most Informed and active MP on Digital India, Internet and Technology issues, policies and regulatory matters and is unafraid to dive into issues that need support after informing himself well on these.
He was nominated for UK’s prestigious Index Freedom of Expression Award for 2013, in the category of Digital Freedom for fighting against internet censorship in India and challenging legislation that will stifle digital freedom.
As one of India’s most informed and experienced MPs in areas of technology, finance, entrepreneurship and economy, He has been nominated to several Parliamentary and Government committees. He has been on various standing and select committees of Parliament -Defence, Finance, Telecom, Urban Development, GST, Real estate Regulatory bill, Coal, NCC Advisory Board etc. Prior to becoming an MP, Rajeev has also been a member of the PM’s Council on Trade and Development, Chairman of Karnataka Government’s Infrastructure Task Force, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT and Member of Parliamentary Forum on Youth.