Along the way, got degrees from UPenn, Harvard.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: An IIT, Harvard and UPenn-educated Indian American, Deelip Mhaske, 35, originally from Maharashtra, has returned to India to contest in the Lok Sabha elections for the Aam Aadmi Party.
Mhaske has come back home to Marathwada, a rural village in Maharashtra where he grew up. Born a Dalit, to a mother who, at one point, worked as a rag-picker in Mumbai, Mhaske’s journey from lowly beginnings to becoming a top healthcare adviser in the American northeast is nothing short of remarkable, and is made even more so by the fact that he turned his back on all of it to help out his homeland.
At the age of 10, Mhaske earned a scholarship from the Indian central government, allowing him to go to the best school in his region, Navodaya Vidyalaya. He then gained admission into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, where he earned a degree in planning and development. To help make ends meet, he worked as a construction laborer during his time at IIT.
After graduating from there, he wrote a research paper that caught the eye of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League schools. UPenn offfered Mhaske a scholarship to come earn his Ph.D., which he accepted.
Along the way, Mhaske also earned a master’s degree in health sciences from the Harvard Business School, and eventually opened up his own outpatient clinic in New Jersey, dealing specifically with mental health patients.
Subsequently, Mhaske became a healthcare consultant, contracting with the state governments of New Jersey, New York, and Washington, Politically, he became active in the campaigns of President Barack Obama, who has made no secret of his desire to institute universal health coverage and reform the entire industry.
Despite his involvement with US politics, and having been in the country for the better part of 10 years, Mhaske stayed in touch with politics in India. He joined the Aam Aadmi Party right when it began, impressed by its anti-corruption stance and its dedication to fundamentally change the way politics in India worked. Even during his time at IIT, Mhaske was part of Jayprakash Narayan’s Lok Satta party, which was in Hyderabad but was setting up a branch in Maharashtra. He was also actively involved with Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, and joined the AAM while he was in the US years later.
Mhaske also traveled through the state of Maharashtra with Hazare, in 2006, and has helped fund education and medical movements in his home state. Having left employment in the US, he has no steady income, reportedly funding his campaign with loans and donations. His entrepreneurial experience and predisposition to public speaking and politics have brought him a long way, but it remains to be seen if it will take him all the way to New Delhi.
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