“I started with BTech from NIT Nagpur in 2009, a period when engineering was the most sought-after degree. I personally didn’t want to be an engineer, so the moment I stepped into NIT, I started looking for an escape.
In my third year, I got introduced to a distance learning public policy course by a senior which built my inclination towards the field. I was young and had the youth aspiration of making a difference in the country, I felt public policy was one such platform where I could do so. Then in my final year, I did a Social Leadership Project, which we named as “Samagrashala” for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, along with my friend, where we had to conduct workshops for sensitization of teachers in around twenty-eight middle level schools. That exposed me to some basic problems faced by these schools, like having toilets with sliding doors which prevented female children from using them; it raised questions in my mind as to what we can do to change the scenario for the better.
I went for a core engineering job after my BTech followed by an MTech in Water Science and Governance from TERI which was an intersection between technology and policy making. I had the notion earlier that public policy was only about doing good but as I received the academic exposure to it through courses and conferences, I realized it was much more than just that. It helped me develop a deeper and wider understanding of the field.
I did two projects during my Master’s, one involving Delhi’s Water Urban Policy and the other with GE on water mapping in coal based thermal power plants. Interacting with the industry and understanding their challenges made my notion about “people are wrong” diluted. I realized there are complexities to every problem and it is not only about using technology to solve it, but also the affordability and usefulness of it.
I worked for GE for another six months after my MTech and then joined Samaj Pragati Sahyog, an NGO that worked on the Central India tribal belt. It had its headquarters near my hometown and during that period was trying to establish a water policy network. It worked in my favor. However, I developed some health issues after a few months and had to return home. While at home, I contemplated doing a PhD and eventually started looking for positions.