Mumbai’s silent Sculptor: Shishir Joshi

They say that ‘still waters run deep’. Shishir Joshi, former CEO – MUMBAI FIRST is a living example of a genius with profound wisdom coupled with action. As Mumbai First’s youngest CEO, Shishir actively collaborated with Civil society groups, local and Federal government institutions as well as its international partners such as the European Union, World Bank, IMF, just to name a few, to achieve desired results.

At present, Shishir is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Project Mumbai, a non-profit organization that has been set up by like-minded individuals who feel passionate about Mumbai. And everything that matters. 

Recently, he gave his first TEDx Talk at ISME in Mumbai. The topic was: “Go BIG or go HOME”. Through this talk, he emphasized on ‘Social Transformation Through Scale’.

Quiet, sharp and extremely observant, his eyes notice everything. His heart beats for every ground reality faced by common citizens. This epitome of transformational leadership showed us that uniting citizens through a cause can stir a revolution.

His Mumbai-building project HAMARA STATION, HAMARI SHAAN saw 25000+ volunteers supported by 100 institutions who participated in a beautification drive across 36 railway stations in Mumbai. All this within a span of 7 days in October 2016!

The project was a combined effort by Mumbai First and Making a Difference Foundation (M.A.D). Haresh Shah founder of M.A.D., Shishir and their respective teams, planned the project to coincide with the JOY of GIVING Week, popularly known as Daanutsav.
My first meeting with Shishir was about a decade and a half ago, on TV Today.

He remains a friend while I have turned into a fan.

His Twitter bio says: It ain’t happened till it ain’t happened 🙂

Here is a man who has been a journalist for 25 years where he occupied key positions in prominent publications. As Group Editorial Director of Mid-day, he was instrumental in the make-over of the newspaper to make it more contemporary in design and content. Before that, he headed the Western Region of the TV Today Network as its Executive Director. As a full-time journalist, he has also been associated with, NDTV and Indian Express. He ensured that he gives back to journalism and society in a multi-fold manner. He co-founded Journalism Mentor, a student programme focussed on promoting excellence.

Here are the excerpts from a previous interview with this legend. I was lucky to interact with this legend who shed light on this project that has positively impacted every train traveler in Mumbai.

Haresh Shah, Shishir Joshi
With Haresh Shah, founder of Making A Difference Foundation. The men who planned HSHS.

What were you and Haresh thinking when you started the Hamara Station Hamari Shaan project?

Honestly? Nothing big. I have been a Daanutsav volunteer for a while now. All of us just set out to make a difference in the life of an ordinary Mumbaikar. Log judte gaye, caravan banta gaya. Our intent was clear and it had a domino effect.
From the time I shared the project HSHS with my Mumbai First team and the Mumbai First governing board, what I got was unconditional support and wholesome backing. There are so many people who I want to thank. You must read my blog post on HSHS to know more.

Devendra Fadnavis Humara Station Humari Shaan Amitabh Bachchan
The logo was unveiled by CM, Devendra Fadnavis in the presence of Amitabh Bachchan, Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra and the who’s who of corporate and CSR India.

Your thoughts on the outcome of HSHS…

Through beautification of railway stations, we know we haven’t created artwork that is world class in the eyes of some critics. That was never the intention and never the claim either. We have managed to seek a behavioral change. These 25000+ people now have a sense of ownership towards their city. They will not deface. They will hopefully step up to prevent a million others.

“Why do you stop me from spitting? Tumhare baap ka station hai kya?”
“Baap ka nahi, hamara hai. Humney paint kia hai”

Tell us about your visit to Spain…

I was invited there in my capacity as CEO of Mumbai First which has been acknowledged as one of the world’s best practice models of Public-Private partnerships by not only the Indian Ministry of Urban Development but also the World Bank.
Team HAMARA STATION, HAMARI SHAAN acknowledges the work of all the volunteers who participated in the project. I presented HSHS as a unique Public Private People Partnership model at the World Cities and Economy Forum in Bilbao Spain on November 21, 2016. The joy was multi-fold since I was the only one invited from India to present a PPPP project. It is a sign of success for our teams.
It was an honor to share the stage with Juan Aburto Mayor of Bilbao, Michael Koh Centre for liveable cities – Singapore, Merrill Pond – The Partnership for New York City, John Dickie, strategy head – City of London. Jon Azua CEO – innovating labs moderated by Hazem Galal Global cities leader PWC.

Seated at the far left, he was the only person who represented India on this prestigious platform – World Cities and Economy Forum in Bilbao Spain on November 21, 2016.

What are the various other initiatives that you are involved with?

Over the years, empowering Indians through a citizen Journalism model of learning has become an extension of what I do, in whichever manner I can hope to achieve. Wearing multiple not-for-profit hats, including Engage the Citizen Foundation and Muskaan-Sharing smiles, I have managed to take this role forward.
I am a counselor and was part of the launch team that started a free counseling service at St. Michael’s Church in Mahim, every Wednesday. I also conduct corporate counseling sessions and play the role of a crisis communications expert for several corporates. Training people for citizen journalism is my biggest stress buster.
In a full-time role as CEO of Mumbai First, I have been fulfilling another desire. making Mumbai a Better Place to Live and Work.

WhatsApp Image 2016-11-25 at 23.41.32.jpeg
1-3 day, Citizen Journalism Workshops where he empowers the common man.

Tell me something about Mumbai First…

Mumbai First is one of the best examples of Public-Private Partnership in our country. It is our vision to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Mumbai and improve the economic and social fabric of the city. In short, to transform Mumbai / Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) into a world-class city, one of the best places in which to live and do business. Big business houses and financial institutions have made contributions to create a corpus for the functioning of Mumbai First.
Mumbai First fulfills its role mission by researching, catalyzing, advocating and networking to build a better city. The institution has done some amazing work. I would like as many like-minded citizens to come on board and support it. We are working on another interesting project for the visually impaired with IIT Delhi, BEST and Mumbai First.


I ask my self: What have I done for my city TODAY?

So, you are a law graduate who turned down an offer from the army to choose journalism. And here you are today, sculpting Mumbai…

Sculpting Mumbai…? That’s too huge a credit and am surely not the least worthy of it. The Mumbai of yesterday and today has some great change makers. I can name so many. They are all so inspiring. However, I always knew I wanted to do two things, be a journalist and change the world for the better. So, when I quit active journalism, I decided to participate in various initiatives that allowed me to make some changes in our society.

Do you miss journalism?

Yes, I do miss it. My maternal grandmother was the first working woman journalist of Karnataka state. I was extremely inspired by her. Maybe that is how I naturally chose journalism. However, moving away from journalism was a conscious decision. I opted out. I have been fortunate with all the opportunities I have got. Privileged to have been associated with institutions and people I have worked with. Every turn in life has given me a new outlook. Grateful for that. Do I miss journalism? The glamour of TV? Yes, I do. But I feel what I am doing now is equally if not more important and critical. Joining dots and being a catalyst in the change process.

What is the mantra of your life?
I don’t have mantras, nor do I have a bucket list. I love to ask myself each day: What have I done for my city TODAY?

An incident that touched your heart during HSHS?

There were many. Right from the selfless participation shown by the volunteers to the enthusiasm shown by institutions – everything was overwhelming. HSHS has brought citizens together, more importantly, infused a sense of belief that together. A lot can happen for the better. Personally, it has inspired me to take on one more and bigger challenge. Watch this space for an announcement soon.

Shishir Joshi Humara Station Humari Shaan
“What would I know about colours. I can’t see. I am visually impaired by birth” Shishir: “Colours are feelings.. allow me to guide you. Just let your emotions flow”

The HSHS project is a perfect example of how small changes can make a huge difference to society.  Here’s wishing that Mumbai sees many more such positive changes that make this city a better place to live.

Reach out to Shishir:
His blog:
Twitter: @joshishishir
HSHS video:

Reach out to Shishir if you want to be part of the Mumbai First movement.

Did HUMARA STATION, HUMARI SHAAN impact the lives of a Mumbaikar? Well, it did impact someone I know…

Me: “Yadavji, aapko Mumbai ke railway station pe kuch farak maloom padh raha hai kya?”
My driver: “Safai dikti hai madam.”
“Haan, udhar bada bada painting kiya hai, issiliye log kam thukte hai”

– As told to Mayura Amarkant

Let me know whether you noticed that the railway stations of Mumbai have turned colorful. Do take a moment to salute the 25 K volunteers of HAMARA STATION HUMARI SHAAN heir untiring efforts.

If you have a message for Team HSHS or Shishir Joshi, do let me know in the comments section, I will convey it to them. Don’t forget to like and share the post if it touched your heart.

This is the 13th interview in the #StayInspired series. Here are the rest:

  1. #StayInspired – 1: Dreams keep people alive
  2. #StayInspired: Marriage is a warm & intimate cocoon
  3. #StayInspired: Born today, 4 Inspiring people
  4. #StayInspired: When I was 13, my grandma wanted to marry me off
  5. #StayInspired: God rejected my death
  6. #StayInspired: Meet the Dhoni of Indian Corp Comm & PR
  7. #StayInspired: He is the original TaxiMan of India.
  8. #StayInspired: The ‘Vamana’ of Alternative Medicine
  9. #StayInspired: Making Indian education ‘student-friendly’: Meet the new-age Lord Macaulay
  10. #StayInspired: Meet the travel industry’s ‘Y factor’ – YusuF Poonawala

  11. #StayInspired: Crafting the Entertainment Industry – The Sonia Parasnis Way

  12. #StayInspired: Ram Kamal Mukherjee – Beyond Bollywood and Biographies.















  1. It’s such a great initiative of Mumbai First and various projects to make a huge difference. Shishir Sir is a journalist that makes me relate to the kind of work he has done and would love to learn from him. Mayura, you are being an agent of social change by bringing to the fore the work of such eminent people. Great going.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alas we don’t have someone like Shishir in Kolkata… some people are trying and some people are Tarnishing it from the same group…


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