Saira Shah Halim is an Indian politician, social and political activist, theatre artist, educator, and corporate trainer. She is known for being the niece of the Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah. In April 2022, she contested the Ballygunge Assembly bypolls as a candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Saira Shah was born on Monday, 27 February 1978 (age 44 years; as of 2022) at Command Hospital in Kolkata. Her zodiac sign is Pisces.
Born into a family with an army background, Saira was raised in different cities across India. She did her primary schooling at International Indian School, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and then went to Lawrence School, Lovedale, Tamil Nadu, to pursue her secondary education. Saira pursued her graduation from Sophia Girls’ College, Ajmer.
Thereafter, she pursued an M.A. in English from the Faculty of Arts, Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Brown
Eye Colour: Brown
Saira Shah hails from a family of the Nawabs of Sardhana.
Parents & Siblings
Saira’s father, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, is a former Deputy Chief of the Indian Army. As of 2022, he is serving as the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh. Her mother’s name is Sabiha Simi Shah. She has two brothers. Her elder brother, Major (retd) Mohommed Ali Shah, is an actor. Her younger brother, Omar Shah, is a training lead at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). She also has a sister named Naazli Shah.
Husband & Children
Saira Shah Halim is married to Dr Fuad Halim, a politician and medical professional. Her husband runs an NGO (clinic) named Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp which aims to cater for the poor classes. He founded Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp along with Saira in 2006. The couple has two daughters Nura Halim and Farishta Halim.
Saira Shah is the niece of the popular Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah. Naseeruddin is the younger brother of her father, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah. Her aunt Ratna Pathak Shah (wife of Naseeruddin Shah) is an Indian theatre and television actress.
She is the daughter-in-law of Hashim Abdul Halim, former speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
Saira started her corporate career in 2006 with Wipro. She worked there for around two years and then resigned from the company. Subsequently, she worked with top MNCs and corporate houses in training, learning, and developmental roles.
Saira Shah started her political career in March 2022 as a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). On 29 March 2022, she was announced as the candidate of the CPI(M) for the 2022 Ballygunge Assembly bypolls.
In an interview, recalling the day her candidature was announced, Saira said,
We were leaving for a trip to Assam when I got a call from the senior leadership asking me if I could fight this battle. I was surprised but I was ready.”
The Ballygunge by-election was held on 12 April 2022 after the TMC stronghold seat became vacant with the death of veteran Trinamool leader and cabinet minister Subrata Mukherjee in November 2021. Contesting against singer-turned-politician and former Minister of State for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Babul Supriyo of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Saira actively campaigned for the election.
During an interview, Saira revealed that although she was contesting the polls for the first time, she was exactly not new to politics. She said,
I have been there, done that. Dinner table conversations have always been about politics in my home. Only this time, I am myself the candidate. The party which has been a part and parcel of my life for the last two decades offered me the challenge and I grabbed it.”
Saira has worked at Poetry Couture, a pro-bono initiative to revive poetry and prose reading culture. Saira has been invited as a speaker at Kolkata literary fest many times. She is one of the founding members of the Poetry Paradigm, a non-profit organisation based in Kolkata. The other members of the club include Joie Bose, Ashoke Viswanathan, Ananya Chatterjee, and Arthur Cardozo.
Saira also contributes to the Kolkata-based blog The Beacon Kolkata. Shah has curated several cultural and literary programmes in Kolkata. Halim has also participated in a Sampark Literary Evening. In 2016, Shah chaired two sessions of the prestigious tata steel Kolkata literary meet. She has appeared as a speaker at many TEDx events.
She is a social activist and has worked for many pertinent causes like gender equality and safeguarding democracy and secularism. In 2017, she acted in ‘Ek Khaas Aadmi,’ a short film based on a social cause. The film was screened on NDTV talkies.
Halim is a member of the West Bengal Federation of United Nations Association. She has also been a part of the Rotary Club of Ballygunge, a non-government organisation based in Kolkata that works for social causes.
Saira has been a part of many protests including the protests against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. She was also against the educational institutions in Karnataka banning the hijab in classrooms. In 2021, she conducted an independence day talk at Oakridge International School in Mohali.
12, Dr Md. Ishaque Road, Kolkata-700016
As of 2021, Saira’s net worth is estimated to be Rs. 4,94,11,900.
In the financial year 2020-2021, Saira earned an income of Rs. 4,98,940.
Assets & Properties
- Bank Deposits- Rs. 11,18,623
- Shares, Bonds, and Debentures- Rs. 90,000
- Insurance Policies- Rs. 1,00,000
- Residential Buildings- Rs. 19,00,000 (as of 2021)
- Restaurant(s): Flurys in Kolkata, Mocambo Restaurant and Bar in Kolkata
- Saira Shah loves to travel in her leisure time. She also loves listening to music, reading books, and acting in plays.
- She is also a motivational speaker, behavioural trainer, and theatre artist. She has conducted many reading, creative writing, and Poetry workshops at national and international levels.
- Saira follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- In 2021, on the eve of Independence, she was conferred the ‘Vocational Award’ by the Rotary Club of Ballygunge.
- In the same year, she was awarded the Grand Queens Leadership Award by the Rotary Club of Ballygunge for empowering women.
- During an interview, Saira revealed that her experiences growing up as an army kid made her a tough person. She said,
I’ve seen tough terrain at a very young age. My father was posted in Punjab during the 1990s when the insurgency was peaking, and from 1998-to 1999, he was the commanding officer in Manipur during the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) insurgency. I vividly remember going to school in large convoys, because there was always news of the Army being ambushed.”
- In 2021, when her husband, Dr Faud Halim contested the West Bengal assembly election from Ballygunge Assembly Constituency, it was Saira, who managed his political campaigns.
- In an interview, when asked if she could benefit from her husband’s political presence, Halim replied,
I have my own credentials. I have actively campaigned against the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in Bengal and Delhi. I have been outspoken on the rights of religious minorities, on the issue of the hijab ban and on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community on all platforms – TV debates, digital conclaves and public meetings. The local cadres proposed my name to the party because I have my own political identity. I am going from door to door and speaking to voters. I have my vision for the constituency.”
- During an interview, Saira revealed that she was very attached to her birthplace Kolkata. She said,
Due to my father’s postings, I have lived in many places, I studied at a boarding school in Ooty, did my college from Rajasthan. An Army family never really has an attachment to any one place — that’s how we’ve been brought up — but it’s Kolkata that has given me my identity. This is my city, and I am proud to serve the people of this state.”