Born in a middle-class family, 21-year-old Abhishek Agrahari is aiming high for Fields Medal and Nobel for India. Currently pursuing Mechanical Engineering at TIET, Patiala, he takes inspiration from “his mentor, guide and philosopher” tech tycoon Elon Musk for his farsightedness and futuristic vision and aspires to work with him in future.
Q 1) Why did you choose mechanical engineering?
I think Mechanical Engineering is the mother of all core branches. It is a way to study and enhance the technologies that can reduce the human effort and give maximum output in minimum input keeping in mind what good and bad effects it will cause to the environment. Concerned with the principles of force, energy and motion, mechanical engineers use their knowledge of design, manufacture, and operational processes to advance the world around us — enhancing safety and economic vitality.
Q 2) What gave you the idea to apply to international universities for an internship?
After working with premier organizations like DRDO and IITs, I thought about exploring international exposure. The foreign universities are slightly advanced in terms of infrastructure, quality of research as compared to what we are performing.
Q 3) What differences do you between the Indian Engineering Institutes and Foreign Institutes?
There is a huge difference between the Indian institutes and foreign institutes in terms of research funding, research infrastructure (laboratories) and imparting knowledge. In India, the focus is more towards theoretical learning and the research environment is not apt for the research along with limited funding and lack of interdisciplinary research makes it less interesting.
Q 4) What should be done more for the betterment of research infrastructure in India?
As far as the betterment of research infrastructure is concerned, our technical institutes should focus more on experimental research which can be realized with the assistance of highly equipped world class laboratories in our country and focusing more on skill development technical courses not just mere verbatim reproduction of bookish knowledge.
Q 5) The Indian government has proposed a national research foundation. How do you see this and what long-term benefits it will give?
National Research Foundation is being instituted for the first time in the country and an initial $ 683.6 million have been allocated to it, but a lot more has to be done and being a student, I am not sure how this scheme will benefit research at the ground level and how this will strengthen research related institutions and its link with R&D, academia and industry. It might prove beneficial in the long run but a real-time execution system is the need of the hour.
Q 6) What are the reasons behind increasing unemployability in India despite having great talent?
Not only unemployability but under-employability is also a major problem in the country. To cater this we need a well formed mind not a well filled mind and this can be realized by placing experimental and skill development courses where student can learn by doing things and hence can be a job giver not a job seeker.
Q 6) Do you think entry of foreign varsities in India is necessary and will be beneficial?
It is extremely crucial and necessary because when these foreign varsities enter India there will be a great exposure for budding young minds to apply and learn in an altogether different environment as well as tech transfer will take place which will boost technical maneuvers in India along with generating employment at the same time. Exchange of ideas and tech transfer coupled with state of the art laboratories will surely help students to fulfill their aspirations and will also assist a great deal for the country to become self-reliant.
Q 7) What do you think are your biggest achievements till now?
The first taste of success always whets the appetite to achieve more. It’s you the media persons who minutely scrutinize one’s ‘‘achievements’’. As far as my achievements are concerned, I’d rather say: this is just the beginning. So what if I have bagged so many research offers from several renowned universities across the globe, I’ve still miles to go. I’d like to quote Robert Frost here: “Woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep; And miles to go before I sleep.”
Q 8) How did you overcome the obstacles in your life?
Whatever I’m today is because of my father. My upbringing has been such that no difficulty can deter my determination. My father has always infused positive thoughts in my mind. He has taught me that you can achieve whatever you want, provided you are armed with tremendous nerve, sheer patience, robust optimism and iron determination.
Q 9) What are your goals and what advice would you give other students with regards to achieving their goals?
For me the list is endless because goals do not stand for saturation, but they propel us to keep going. I’m gunning for Fields Medal and Nobel for my country. No one in the entire history of science and mathematics has ever got Nobel and Fields Medal both. I’m confident that my areas of research and foundation work will pave the way for Fields Medal and Nobel Prize few years from now.I’m too small to give advice to anybody. However, I can only suggest other students that always aim high with never-say-die spirit and don’t be complacent as hard work and perseverance always pay.
Q 10) From who all you take the inspiration and what keeps you motivated?
I take inspiration from Elon Musk, a centibillionaire, business magnate, industrial designer, and sui generis engineer for his farsightedness, futuristic vision and barrier-free thinking. I consider Elon as my mentor, guide and philosopher as I believe that my multidisciplinary and multidimensional thinking towards academics and life in general is drawn by following Elon Musk. I aspire to work with him in the near future.