Four years ago, Anant Vashistha was a first year student of Production and Industrial Engineering at IIT Roorkee.
Like many of his fellow batchmates, he would eagerly look forward to the weekend, although not for the usual reasons, that is, waking up late, completing a movie marathon, or hanging out with friends. For the 17-year-old, the weekend was about making a substantial difference in the lives and creating an inspiring legacy.
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Now, this might seem quite unusual, but Anant was different from others.
Every Saturday and Sunday, he would travel 8 kilometres away from his college to a small village named Kaliyar, with a bag full of books, some chalk and a sense of purpose. There he would set up a small tent with blackboard and chairs and begin his class for some 20-odd children, all for free.
This was his routine till the end of 2015. After him, his classmates continued the work till 2019.
His love for teaching and the resolve to make a better world would drive him to the village, every single week, without fail. Slowly, many of his friends followed suit and joined his initiative.
“We were not part of any NGO. We were just individuals trying to do whatever best we can to make our education beneficial not just for us, but also our society,” says Anant, who was teaching a mixed batch of Class 3,4 and 5 students.
At first, breaking the ice and gaining the trust of the villagers was a big challenge. But, this was just a hiccup for Anant, who continued to pursue the people, going door to door explaining his intention to parents and the more significant benefit the kids would gain from the classes.
Gradually, they began to trust him, and from 5 students, his classes finally had a strength of 20 in a matter of months. Anant mentions that he used to enjoy teaching his favourite subject, Mathematics, to the eager children.
Today, Anant works at Mastercard in Gurugram but recalls those days with a fond smile. “Teaching has always been my passion and teaching those kids made me happy,” he quips.
Owing to his brilliant efforts, Anant was recently awarded a gold medal at the hands of President Ram Nath Kovind at the 19th annual convocation of IIT Roorkee.
For his contribution in the field of youth leadership amongst students admitted through JEE, he won the prestigious Jai Krishna Gold medal, along with eight more.
Although with his job in place, he is unable to teach anymore, he soon hopes to go back to it and start something in Gurugram itself, or dedicate his weekends to work in an NGO.
“It was fun teaching the children for four years. Although I am unable to take classes now as I have shifted my base in Gurgaon where I work, they all are in touch with me, and I would be more than happy to assist them in their future endeavours,” he said to PTI.
Meanwhile, he is also planning further studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, and his ultimate goal is to give back to the nation.
“While many students turn all their focus on getting into IIT, its also important to understand and visualize life beyond it. The institute is only the launchpad. So while working hard academically, you also need to ensure that you use your skills for a cause larger than you—
the society. No success comes in isolation,” concludes the inspiring young man.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)