Change never happens in isolation and once it starts happening, it cannot be confined or controlled. I have experienced it in my journey of bringing change.
Hi, I am Ankit Raj, and I belong to a small remote village of western Bihar. From the very beginning, like most of the families who aspire to fix the financial insecurities by getting a government job, my family was also very ambitious and wanted me to be an officer in Indian Army and carry forward the legacy of my previous generation dominated by officers of Indian Army. After several failures to get into military schools, the memorable successes during my NCC Career brought me the opportunity to go through Officers Training and also the title ‘Pride of the Battalion’. Henceforth, rather than choosing to secure the nation from external threats, I chose to eradicate the bigger threat to internal security and prosperity of the nation that is ‘poverty’.
With 93.8 percentile at national level in AIMA-UGAT 2012, instead of pursuing business studies, I chose to go for B.A. Honours in my English Literature and remain close to my villagers and apply my whatever little knowledge I had for their welfare. That drove me to student politics, RTI activism and citizen journalism. I successfully solved some problems also and that ignited to work for impact at scale. After completion of B.A English Honours, I was chosen for in Gandhi Fellowship and got placed in the tribal block of Surat Gujarat. While working with tribal communities in remote areas, I used to come across several issues and used to feel an urge inside to solve all the problems. I tried my hands in some of the problems and tasted partial success. It made me think about the process I followed and It brought me a realization that I didn’t use the perspectives of my collegues for the solution. That led me to the realization that to solve the traditional issues of the community, we need to bring creative, holistic and comprehensive ways. There starts the search for opportunities where I may meet ‘creative-problem-solvers’ and the nature conspired to bring Young India Challenge 2017 in my way. I just grabbed it and made myself available for a life changing opportunity.
YIC may be several things for several people, but for me, it was a platform which expanded the framework of my thought process which made my outlook more spacious for knowledge, aspiration and vision. It stretched my outlook from local to global; and due to that along with my interest in local governance and rural development, I started getting interested in international developments and challenges. The challenge of finding solutions to global problems in few hours was like shaking your brain like anything, but with the enthusiastic team members, we could find a solution, propose a business plan and appeared replicable. This brought me a learning that solution will be in our hand as and when we want it.
The habit of visualizing problems in global framework and local resources made me realize the importance of even a small positive step anywhere in the world. It increased my interconnectedness, expanded my knowledge base, my network, capability and opportunities. Today, I am a person whose interest lies in foreign relations along with local governance of India.
In 2019, I am working with the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to implement a national project which aims to bring youngsters in Panchayats to increase the capacity of Panchayat Elected representatives and government employees and ensure that participatory, planned and sustainable development is taking place. Now, when I apply the global lens and find myself solving several of UN – SDGs. This makes me visionary and makes me ahead of the average thought leaders.
I will always be grateful to YIC and will keep being a problem solver for the community. I think this is the best way to build the nation and self.