Irfan Bashir | Project Nile


A passionate and courageous approach to storytelling is enabling Irfan Bashir connect the two worlds of creative insight and critical thought.



Irfan Bashir is the co-founder of Project Nile, a Mumbai based startup that publishes creative, critical, and analytical works on a range of subjects that encourage progressive thoughts with the aim to bridge the academic gap between theory and practice. He is also the co-author of 'Crowdfunding: The Story of People', the first book that explores the social impact and potential of online crowdfunding in India. Through his storytelling, he hopes to explore the nexus between creative insight and critical thought. Irfan pursued his Bachelor's in Quantitative Economics and Econometric Analysis from the University of Rochester, New York, and has worked as a journalist and editor based in Kashmir for over five years.



“I believe that the greatest power in the universe is love which can manifest in our work through service to others. Love gives us the courage to pursue our dreams”, says Irfan, capturing the big idea and philosophy that guides his journey. 



We want to get to the heart of Irfan’s passion, and request him to describe the true significance of his approach and work. The leader obliges spontaneously, “At some level, we all know that our experience of time is logarithmic. Somehow, time seems to go by more quickly as we age. So, it makes sense to pursue what we love and are passionate about, given the limited and fleeting time we have. I think love is what gives life its meaning. It is what gives a person the courage to pursue their dreams even if they seem improbable. Any visionary idea that was ever pursued had its roots in courage. The ones who have the humble courage to put down their heads and focus on their work attain their dreams.”



The session is getting interesting, and we feel compelled to dig further. How did this idea evolve into the driving force of Irfan’s journey? Was there any person or life-altering experience or turning-point that caused it or inspired it? Irfan reflects before sharing, “For most of us, when we envision some significant change in our lives, the internal resistance that surfaces is usually about the scope of work we must undertake to realize our vision. When my co-author Ravina and I decided to write a book on crowdfunding, many uncertainties haunted us. How will we get all the required data? How do we approach the research? How will we write over 60,000 words? Who will publish it? What if we fail? These were some uncertainties, to name a few. That's when it helped to have the humble courage to take one step at a time and have the faith that as we live the uncertainties, the solutions will follow. We loved the idea of crowdfunding, so we tried. And in trying, we succeeded.”



Ideas that truly profound don’t stay restricted to the lives of their creator, but are transferred into the psyche of their followers and fans, firing up entire communities. So how is Irfan’s approach to life impacting the work - life of his teams, organization and ecosystems? “After the book, we decided to start our company Project Nile with the aim to create a space for researchers, writers, creators, and activists. We wanted to enable a multi-stakeholder approach to promote diverse creative expression and independent thinking. Again, we were faced with the same uncertainties, and the scope of work seemed overwhelming. But we loved the work we were doing, and we had faith in the idea of Project Nile. So, we decided to go ahead, lay out a roadmap and take one step at a time. For a young start-up, we have made genuine progress so far. We are attracting like-minded people who resonate with our cores ideas of corporate socialism, gender equality, interdependence, scientific inquiry, social impact, and inclusivity. Do we have all the answers already? No. But we are hopeful that we will figure out things as we progress”, shares the man.



Some anticipate the future. Some, go make them happen. Irfan clearly belongs to the latter category. So where is he headed? What is the big goal or riddle he wants to decode in the days ahead? “In the future, we want to focus our attention on the growing wealth inequality in the world. Through research, data-driven storytelling, public and private collaborations, community building, networking, and conscious action, we hope to play our part in addressing this issue”, divulges the thought leader. 



Ideas that are truly timeless transcend sensibilities and generations. So how can his idea influence the next generation of leaders?  Any advice for future achievers? Irfan shares candidly, “I don't know to be honest. Everyone has their own motivations that fuel their dreams. I don't have any advice, but I do have a visual metaphor that I would like to share. Imagine life as a journey, and in front of you lies a dark path. And you can only see as far as the lantern of your own vision permits you to see. This means that you will never know what lies ahead of you exactly, but you will always be able to see the next few steps. That's how it is when you take the unconventional path, especially for leaders. Those who lead can only see as far as their own imagination. So, it's crucial that we take small steps and share our journey with others who are like-minded.” Amen to that.



We are signing off the session, and request Irfan for a short line or two about VOH, and how tribute profiles such as Idea Leaders are important to add direction, inspiration and positive energy to the healthcare community. He readily obliges, “I think VOH is a visionary organization within the healthcare domain. Through its multi-stakeholder approach, VOH taps into the power of the network effect to build impact via co-generated momentum. With its overarching objective to unite visionaries, game-changers and industry captains under one engaging roof, VOH is well-positioned to create lasting transformations in the healthcare sector. Tribute Profiles such as Idea Leaders are wonderful initiatives to motivate, inspire and educate people about the journeys of change-makers.”  



“While it's pertinent to focus on the bigger picture, one must fall in love with the process and focus on the next step.”  | IRFAN BASHIR

*This story is published by VOH team*

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