An Oxford MBA Grad, Meet Activist Garry Birring: a First-Time MLA in Punjab

Birring’s entry into politics began a decade ago, with the Anna Hazare-led India against Corruption movement (IAC).

3 min read
Hindi Female

Gurinder Garry Birring is a stubborn man. In 2014, the Oxford graduate decided to pursue politics, despite a strong opposition from his family. In fact, his father, a retired bank officer, didn’t even speak to him for two years.

It is this stubbornness, perhaps, that has now won the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member the constituency in Punjab’s Amloh. On 10 March, the party swept the state assembly election with a thumping majority.

Birring, however, didn’t even wait for the swearing-in ceremony being held on Wednesday, 16 March, and hit the ground running within two days.

Call of Duty

For instance, four days after the result, he visited the district’s education office in Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib and asked for details of the number of students and teachers in every school.

The same day, he visited the Amloh Civil hospital, and asked the officer-in-charge about vacant seats, and the equipment needed. Birring is informed about the lack of lab technicians – a message he will relay to the top.

Before ending his meeting with Amloh Civil hospital in-charge, he doles out some sound advice: “Tell all medical staff to treat patients kindly because when you talk to people with respect, half their disease gets cured.”

Birring’s entry into politics began a decade ago, with the Anna Hazare-led India against Corruption movement (IAC).

Birring (left) at the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib on 14 March

(Photo: Sandeep Singh)

From Being Inspired by Anna Movement to Winning a Seat in Punjab

“Since I got elected, I have been on the move in my constituency, trying to change the system. There’s no time to waste,” he says, as he points at the state highway, which is riddled with potholes. Work on the potholes has begun.

Like many others from the AAP, Birring won by a whopping margin of more than 20,000 votes, and defeated the likes of agriculture minister in Congress government Kaka Randeep Singh Nabha, Akali Dal leader Gurpreet Singh Raju Khanna, and BJP’s Kanwarveer Singh Tohra.

To top it all, Birring has no political background or godfather. He says, “It was not easy but we were confident of the victory. I spent the last 14 months working in my constituency. Apart from engaging a social media company, I had also hired a survey agency. We knew from which villages we will win and from where we will lose. Victory was in sight.”

Birring’s interest in politics began a decade ago, when he was in his mid-20s. It all started with the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption (IAC) movement in 2011.

In fact, when he applied for his MBA at the prestigious Oxford University in 2011, Birring’s essay was on the impact of IAC on his life. Soon after, he got selected and spent the next few years studying and working in the UK.

Work in Punjab, Library at Singhu

In 2014, however, his desire to work for the AAP brought him back to India.

He says, “I never had any plans of living in the UK and the only reason I went there was to get quality education and to gain experience.”

Before the 2017 state assembly election, Birring was among the seven people who worked on the AAP’s ‘Punjab Dialogue’ – an initiative to take feedback from the youth before designing the manifesto, like the party’s ‘Delhi Dialogue.’ Since then, he has served the party in various capacities.

In January 2020, the AAP protested against Captain Amarinder Singh’s government’s decision to hike electricity bill, and Birring played the main role in organising that protest.

During the year-long farmers’ protest against the three controversial farm laws, Birring – along with six others – set up the Sanjhi Sath library at Delhi’s Singhu border. Later Sanjhi Sath’s branches were opened at Tikri and Ghazipur borders as well.

He says, “I spent two months at the Singhu border at the beginning of the protest in 2020. Our main objective was to provide books, and to hold discussions on different topics at the protest site. Apart from this, we also ran a school to teach youngsters there.”

From being a software engineer in Hyderabad, being inspired by the IAC movement and studying at Oxford University to holding protests against the previous government in Punjab to finally becoming an MLA – Birring has come a long way.

On ministerial berth dreams, his answer reveals his single-minded focus. Birring says, “I got elected, not for power, but to serve the people. I am an MLA at the age of 35 years and that’s enough. There is too much work to do in my constituency.”

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Topics:  Aam Aadmi Party   AAP   Punjab 

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