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Tinkering with robotics, I have built some projects which have been helpful in solving real-world problems

Harshil AnandI started my journey at the age of 14 when I was eagerly interested to dig deeper into the field of robotics science. Currently I’m 17, pursuing my 12th grade with PCM+CS. I have  co-founded a deeptech company focused on B2B aswell as B2C model. We have been into the R&D sector as well as providing web & AI services contributing our part in automating businesses of this era. We have a roadmap to launch series of ventures under Vicube and SmarTee(building the next generation of healthtech wearables) is the first subsidiary part of it with another automated web dev. firm under process.

It’s been almost 3 years tinkering with robotics stuff and drones and I have built some amazing projects which have been helpful in solving real-world problems – a natural disaster rescue drone which took me to the finals of YOUNG SCIENTIST INDIA 2017, AI enabled edu chatbots, home cleaning robots etc. I started freelancing when I was 15 to fund my own projects which has taught me some important money valuation aspects at a younger age. I’m currently researching on wearable technologies in the health domain under SmarTee and our first product will be reaching market by this year.

Always curious and interested into computing applications and my brother was as a source of inspiration for me as he was a kind of tech savvy guy and loved doing electronics projects. On my first visit to IIT Delhi I developed a spark to build robots. I teamed up with 3 of my friends and  participated in their annual tech-fest. I saw drones there for the very first time in my life which made me to tinker with drones and UAV’s in the future years.

Yes, I was so fascinated by these flying robots that made me to learn about the different aspects of it. I met a guy who was running a robotics school in my city who helped me so much in my journey by providing me with costly drones to learn, and other stuff to help me out. My project Medibot got selected for the finale of Young Scientist India 2017 in the aeromodelling category. This was a drone to help out trapped refugees at the time of natural disasters to provide medical supplies, ultimately make a huge cost cut as it was done by helicopters.

Before all this I was a kind of guy who used to be involved into some unwanted bad habits during my 6th-7th class period, used abusing languages in school, not a good scorer and had a toxic kind of life.

Instantly after being one of the winners at Bihar startup conclave, we got a huge media attention and featured in renowned media newspapers in various cities pan india, social blogs, writeups and got invited to radioshows. This was the time when I could tell that I actually made my parents proud. My father was sharing all those articles to their groups and mom was being called up by my name.

Harshil Anand
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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You’re not alone! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to reach out.

Raashi Thakran

Raashi Thakran

My name is Raashi Thakran and I am currently based in Pune.

I was born in Dehradun into a military home. So, we were moving a lot due to my father’s profession. I’ve always loved meeting new people and experiencing new places. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my family and especially my little brother. We’ve had our fights and differences but they’ve made me who I am.

This year, on 6th January I lost my little brother to suicide.

He was only 18 years old.

It was very sudden, shocking and happened when we least expected it. It was the darkest phase of my life. I was lost and scared. Confused, angry and lonely. I spent months trying to get an answer to this one question – Why? I was suffering from crippling anxiety and insomnia.

One day, I stumbled upon an email from Change.org regarding a one-year long fellowship. I decided to apply and got selected. This was the beginning of my journey as a mental health advocate. I finally found a purpose and at the same time, I decided to get professional help for myself because there is no shame in it.

I have started a petition on Change.org asking the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to launch a national helpline number for suicide prevention in India. It has received more than 1.8 lac signatures till date and there has been an out pour of support.
We had a meeting with the Health Advisor of Niti Aayog regarding my campaign and they are very interested in taking this forward.
I have collaborated with various organisations i.e NNDC-IF, SPIF, Teach For India and I am also using social media to talk openly about these issues and to let people know that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

You can sign Raashi’s petition on change.org here

Raashi Thakran
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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Ankit’s Journey and Young India Challenge

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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’.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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Life is beyond uncertainties – The spark of Doing What You Love!

Every day, at around 5:00 AM, I’d be rushing down the flight of steps to board the Churchgate local transiting through Vasai Road (a small town in the outskirts of Mumbai) to kick-start my day as a University student. In about 90 minutes I’d be at the Churchgate station at an hour of the day where Bombay still seemed to be dressed in the freshness of a golden morn. Treasuring the silence, I’d be happily strolling down the heritage lanes of South Bombay, or stop by the bay and relish the beauty of the morning calm. With the rise of the Sun, my hours would soon be devoted to attending Sociology lectures followed by French lessons until late afternoons.  Towards the start of a pleasant evening, I’d slip into the shanty slums of Dharavi and transition my role from a student to a part-time English and French teacher at a non-profit. This was what had got me productive during the weekdays. The weekends, however, were quite rigorously meant for short day trips and a volunteer project that identified me as an online English tutor for the orphans of rural West Bengal. Occasionally I’d also be gladly working part-time as a city guide, showing around hidden nooks of Bombay to guests from Sri Lanka, Turkey, West Indies, Canada, Australia, just to name a few! 

Bundi, Rajasthan

Right from my hours spent studying culture, norms, and society to exploring the diverse vividity of this globe as a Sociology and a French student, I’ve always loved the idea of materializing my learnings; in an environment that would allow me to share my skills and take it to the ones in need. Certainly, that was what led me to start working in Dharavi and eventually handed me a fellowship in rural Rajasthan. Simultaneously, my love for traveling to foreign lands and connecting with people from across the globe also motivated me to come up with my travel blog – ‘Steps and Streets‘ to share my travel stories. 

My work in Rajasthan was that of an English teacher at a rural school which parallelly also allowed me to travel and write stories during school vacations and long holidays. However, a few months down the line, a prolonged illness dropped me at the crossroads of quitting the fellowship and looking for another job in the development sector or diving into a less-promising career option of being a full-time travel writer. I chose the second one. The one that I’ve always had connected with. 

With my students in Tilonia

Tanisha with her students in Tilonia, Rajasthan

Since then, my travel-writing career has taken me to the remote villages of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to lesser-known heritage nooks in Rajasthan, and several other parts of West Bengal, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. 

But none of this was a bed of roses. There still are days where I think of opting for a full-time job. But every time I think such, I’m turned down by a virtual loop of all the adventures I’ve had on the road ever since I got into travel blogging. Despite the pain and the instability of financially sustaining my life as a digital nomad, I’d never trade this life of pure bliss and pure struggle for anything that is less exciting than the one that I’m in. 

At an unmapped village, Uttarakhand

Ever since I was 17 till today that I’m 21, I’ve never thought of rewinding or living my life differently! As a less-experienced teenager to an ever-evolving adult, I’ve always chosen what rang with my passion. 

By the verandah, as I sip my coffee overlooking the fresh paddy fields of Bengal, once again, I ask myself, ‘how do I manage to stick to the drama of having a life with all sort of uncertainties?’, my gut simply murmurs, ‘That’s the spark of doing what you love!’

Tanisha Guin
(YIC Mumbai 2017)

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Footprints of YIC Impact Edition – 2017

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Everyone has a turning point in their life. Some might have experienced, some might be experiencing, while some would experience it. In my case, it was during the 4th and 5th March of 2017, when the 8th Young India Challenge happened in my life. I remember, one of my friend, Mahadevan, who also closely works with the YIC Team, telling me, ‘You must attend YIC, at least once, no matter what’! I filled up the application form and soon I got an email stating that I was shortlisted for a telephonic interview. Later, I qualified and got the chance to attend the 8th YIC at IIT Delhi! I was thrilled to get such an opportunity; which also meant that I could actually experience something new for the first time in Delhi. Yes, I could never explore Delhi before YIC with reasons given that I was an alien to that place!

Did I tell you that I was in Delhi for my post-grad? The reason to mention it is, I knew, I only had a few months to explore Delhi and I will be returning back to my place in Gujarat. So, YIC played a major role in taking the steps towards moving out of my comfort zone. Coming back to my experience, I recall, all the delegates were welcomed with a cheerful hi-5 from volunteers standing along the doorways of the entrance. Being an ambivert (more inclined towards being an introvert), my heart felt lighter. I was spellbound by looking at the number of students who were attending the event. From compelling real-life success stories to mind-challenging activities, every minute in YIC was a captivating moment. 

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YIC is meant for people who:

  • Want to do what they love
  • Want to become a youth influencer 
  • Want to create an impact
  • Are an active learner
  • Are social media savvy
  • Are committed to excellence
  • Have a global mindset

I belonged to the first group, I wanted to pursue arts, but fortunately or unfortunately, I was pursuing my M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Gurgaon. Although I never belonged to the 1% of the population who could actualize a change, I knew, YIC had influenced my mind in some way. From writing poems when alone to writing for a publishing house and a fashion magazine, I evolved to be a writer in its true sense. I couldn’t make friends during YIC due to my phobia in initiating talks (as I define it). However, I try to follow every person I met there and get inspired by their amazing works. I recall a few mentors and friends of YIC at IITD such as Onkar Sir, Durgesh Sir, Deep Shikha Ma’am, Pankhuri, Tanvi, Ishani, Vagisha, Nikhil, Mahadevan, and most importantly, Kamal Sir and Wioleta Ma’am; everyone inspired me to transform my passion into profession. 

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YIC was the foundation of my writing career. I could gather my courage to not work in the field I educated from and switched my career from a Microbiologist/ Biotechnologist to a full-time Content Writer. It’s been more than a year since I have followed my passion and guess what – No Regrets! The #DoWhatYouLove movement not only helped me step out but also gave me wings to fly and actualize my dreams. I always felt guilty for not being able to contribute to the platform that completely changed my life. However, the only way to cross these geographical barriers was writing! I was overjoyed when I was asked to be a part of the contributors’ network and I am elated to contribute my YIC experience through this blog. To everyone who contributed to enhancing my life, here is a virtual hug and a Big Thank You! You all have carved a special place in my heart. I am obliged to have met you. Kamal Sir and Wioleta Ma’am, you both are creating tremendous impacts on humanity and your contribution to Sustainable Development is unparalleled. The world needs people like you, thank you for inspiring every human you come across! YIC is and will always be cherished.

Justina Jose
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)

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THE POWER OF IKIGAI AND THE POTENTIAL OF DREAMS

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When you have the spark in your eyes and the fire in your belly, no challenge remains big enough to stop.

Hi, this is Rashmi Subramanian, a 22-year old Social entrepreneur. I wake up every single day with a passion to improve the quality of education in India. 

It’s not an easy task to convert your passion into your profession and picking subjects like Ancient Indian Culture at the graduate and Philosophy, Religion and Culture at the postgraduate level, when there are thousands of engineers, MBAs, CAs in this world, makes this journey unconventional and lonely. 

My journey to do something for the education landscape in this country ignited in my mind as a school going kid. I had a natural inclination and a never-ending passion for history and political science. At an early stage from Grade 6- Grade 10, the negligence of these subjects and the step-motherly treatment it received. It was hard to break the herd mentality for me. To be the only student in the class of 56 to select humanities was a tough path to choose. To declare your love for history and political science 

This actually made me realise that the negligence of these subjects and the rampant rote-learning is something that seriously needs to tackled and eliminated systematically in our country. 

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I consider myself lucky to have college professors and mentors who have given their unconditional love and unlimited support to my ‘craziness ’. And learning from them gave me an idea to start an education organization that will remove boredom and dull content of social studies and replace it with creative learning keeping the historical and constitutional values intact. 

My internship stints with different NGOs and interaction with many people who work in the education domain fuelled my passion to be an entrepreneur. Somebody who wakes up every single day with zeal and enthusiasm.

When I see students question about history and political science in the classroom, I receive the motivation for my work. When I give teachers guidelines and content, equip them with knowledge, I am satisfied that I am creating change-makers. 

To work in this domain is actually similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle. Hence, I realised that PAHELI would be the best name for this. And PAHELI is also an acronym for Political And Historical Engagement for Learners of India. Currently, PAHELI is working on the empowerment of teachers and students to create politically aware and historically active students who will shape the India of tomorrow. 

With PAHELI, there are so many opportunities to explore and the schools today understand the need for strengthening social studies. How can we tackle social problems in this country if we cannot teach social studies effectively? This has been the central question that I try to bring to limelight through my work in PAHELI. 

I believe it is the power of the dreams that helped me get the vision to work for my country. Whenever you face problems, convert them into solutions and you will eventually find the purpose to live an enriching life. 

Remember self-created barriers and restrictions can be toxic in your life. These convert to regret when you turn old. Do not let these come in your way! 

Live a meaningful life and leave a footprint when you die for others to take inspiration from!

Rashmi Subramanian
(YIC RGIT Mumbai 2017)

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Don’t define Diabetic desserts

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Harsh Kedia, a 21 year old from Mumbai, is a passionate Diabetic Chef.  He was told at the age of 15 that he had diabetes. The doctors gave him a long list of things which he couldn’t eat. This meant no carbs, no sugar, no fats and no desserts. After getting irritated with people treating him as i he had a life threatening disease, he decided to take a step and change all this. He did his homework and started crafting delicious delicacies that were specially for diabetics and that gave birth to his Facebook page – ‘A diabetic Chef.’

With ‘A diabetic Chef’, Harsh aims help other diabetic who he knows would go through the same dilemma he went through. We got a chance to chat with him and he happily answered a few questions for us.

Here’s a snippet of our chat with Harsh.

Q1. When and how did you discover your passion for cooking and baking?

Ans. I fell in love with cooking since 3rd grade. Kitchen was my ‘play-ground’. Well my heart was broken when at the age of 15 doctors discovered that I had diabetes hence “do not eat this do not eat that” and so on. That is when I decided he had to change this. I took a list of things I could eat and based on that I did my homework and started crafting delicious delicacies that were specially for diabetics and that gave birth to my Facebook page – ‘A diabetic Chef.’

Q2. How difficult was it to convince your parents about your passion for cooking? How have they taken it?

Ans. Family initially didn’t get the idea of it and weren’t comfortable but now they’ve come to terms with it.

Q3. What is other people’s reaction to ‘A diabetic Chef’? How did you come up with the idea for this?

Ans. People reacted very variably. It wasn’t all that easy initially, insults, demeaning and hate messages all came in. But well who cares right? It didn’t exactly bring me down it just gave me motivation to work harder each day.

Diabetic Chef came up when I was 16 and was told I wasn’t allowed to eat sweets and food outside my house, I took my passion and setbacks as a push to start something against the idea that diabetics can’t do everything. This includes eating what they want!

The concept of a diabetic chef came up as an insult when I was baking brownies at home and a friend asked me you’re baking desserts who are you a diabetic chef?

Q4. How has your experience been, being associated with the DoWhatYouLove Movement?

Ans. Being associated with YIC has been a wonderful journey for me. I’ve met one of the most talented people I know, I have interacted with ever. I met Wioleta and Kamal who are fantastic poeple who motivate young entrepreneurs’ like me and help us grow. I’ve come to terms with myself greatly after YIC and well, I do what I love now. The sticker given to us by YIC of the #DoWhatYouLove is stuck on my laptop ever since. Keeps reminding me to go harder every day!

Q5. What inspires you to DoWhatYouLove?

Ans.  A lot of struggles actually. Body shaming, fat shaming, colour shaming, effeminate behavior shamed. NOT BEING ABLE TO EAT OUTSIDE! Not being able to talk to people. Getting pittied by these lame relatives has always and will always help me do what I love.

The push back has been the push through of this.

“Life is and always will be a beautiful struggle!”

(Interviewed by Nikhil Kamath)