I had always been fond of computers. I started programming in class 8th. My school teachers taught me only the stuff that was to be asked in school exams, nothing of the box so I used to read books to gain knowledge. My doubts were always doubts as I had no mentors to guide me. I kept going, I developed my first website at the end of class 8th.Then I was introduced to the INTERNET, which then changed everything. It was like I had found a mentor who can now clear all my doubts. I published my first website in the summer holidays of class 9th. Subsequently, I started learning more programming languages as my interest was in it.
Once I went to our district Govt. Engineering College, where I met the professor of Computer Science. I asked him to teach me programming. He first interviewed me and hence agreed to teach me C++. I learned the language in the college, despite being a school student.
After class 10th, everybody started telling me that what I was doing is non-sense and at this age I am supposed to be focusing on my school like every other child of my age and stop this programming. I resisted this fact, not because I hated school studies, but because I didn’t wanted to be like everyone else around me, I wanted a separate identity for myself which could differentiate me from other children of my age group. I have always wanted to work on waste management systems. I met people who could partially guide me but no was able to completely guide me in my programming field.
Not having any mentor, I continued studying on my own, but now I was powered by the internet. Then I opted for further study in web development field, bought some online courses, referred to documentations and learnt all the languages of full stack.
Currently I am a full-stack web developer. I have contributed to the Google Assistant code and got shortlisted as the only ‘school-kid’ from all over India to participate in the final round of Hack-a-Bit, held at BIT, Ranchi.
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019
I 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.
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is a think tank focused on helping businesses integrate sustainability into their core functions. One of the ways in which we engage businesses is through organizing multi-stakeholder dialogues such as our annual flagpship Conference “India & Sustainability Standards”. We work across different sectors namely Apparel and textiles, Agro-based industries, ICT and Electronics, Mining and Minerals. Most of our work on promoting business sustainability may be catergorized under the following themes such as Circular Economy, Business and Human Rights, Private Sector and SDGs, Voluntary Sustainability Standards and MSMEs and Sustainability.
At CRB we adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as one of the conceptual frameworks for it’s work on sustainability. In the past few decades, Circular Economy has emerged as an important lever to support sustainable development. As defined by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, circular economy serves as a regenerative economic system which is powered by renewable energy, where the concept of “waste” is designed out, and materials and energy circulate in closed loops for long periods of time. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Repair, Refurbish and Remanufacture (known as the 7 Rs’)are the basic tenets of circular economy. Circular economy helps us to look at entire production and consumption value chains from a macro, or systems perspective, and design ways to make them sustainable. Given its focus on resource efficiency, systems and design thinking, the concept of circular economy is especially useful towards advancement on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Designing products and services in a way that the by-products and end-of-life products (post-consumer goods) can be disassembled and/or recycled/reused, will make sure that the stress on earth’s limited resources is reduced.
Through it’s project on Promoting Responsible Value Chains in India for an Effective Contribution of the Private Sector to the SDGs (PROGRESS) ,CRB is currently working with the textile and apparel industry to create strategies to enable a transition to a circular economy. Due to high demand for fashion goods and their rapid obsolescence, millions of tonnes of apparel-related waste end up in landfills every year. After oil and gas, the textile and apparel sectors are considered as the second most polluting industry globally. Cotton, the primary raw material for textiles, requires enormous amounts of fertilizers, water and pesticides, while the manufacturing process is chemical-intensive. Man-made fibres like polyester are created from by-products of the petrochemical industry, which has a large footprint; polyester also leads to microplastics pollution of soil and water bodies.
CRB’s initiative focuses on interactions within global value chains of the textile industry, i.e. how global fashion brands like H&M, C&A, Marks and Spencer, etc. interact with their suppliers, manufacturers and other associates on sustainability issues. As consumers become more aware about the environmental footprint and social impacts of their buying choices, international brands are striving towards making their businesses circular. CRB believes that this can be a huge economic opportunity for Indian garment manufacturers and raw material producers, who can adopt circular economy and fulfil the demand criteria of brands and consumers around the world. This, is turn, will contribute to SDG 12 in India.
But if circular economy or any other sustainability paradigm is to succeed, the consumers, especially the youth must start making conscious lifestyle choices and act as change agents. Once they start demanding sustainable products and services, businesses and governments will align their goals to the SDGs.
Ramanuj Mitra, Programme Officer, CRB
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) – http://c4rb.org/
India Sustainability Standards – http://www.sustainabilitystandards.in/
United Nation Sustainable Development Goals – https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
Ellen Macarthur Foundation – https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept
Golden Plains Shire 7R’s- https://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au/residents/my-home/recycling-and-rubbish/7-rs-recycling
PROGRESS overview- http://c4rb.org/progress
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!’
(YIC Mumbai 2017)
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.
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.
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.
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)