My Education Journey

All that was not a smooth sailing.

Up until class IV I was not a very good student and hardly managed to pass all subjects.

My tuition teacher and my mother were in a fix; here was boy whose concepts were clear and who understood what was being taught, but for some reason was unable to translate the understanding into marks in exams (which I’m sad to note is the only thing that matters in the Indian Education System). Things took a fortunate turn while I was forced to take a leave of absence following an attack of small pox.


People all around me were shocked; and my own surprise gave way to the belief that I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it.


While convalescing in bed I spied that a neighbour had bought a new scooter. Scooters were rare during those days, and it immediately caught my fancy. I asked my mother how the young man had acquired one. She replied that he was an engineer hence he could afford it. And that became my earliest motivation to study hard and become an engineer- all so that I could buy myself a scooter!

Another rude wake-up call was in class IX when I failed my English exam. I was at the receiving end of mocking jibes of students and teachers and this steeled my resolve to work harder. When the results of matriculation were announced, I came out on the top- ranking 3rd in the school overall. People all around me were shocked; and my own surprise gave way to the belief that I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it.


And more than once I’ve taken the ambulance back to school to write an exam and then promptly gotten back to the hospital.


I had planned on joining a Polytechnic course after passing Intermediate exams, but when the admitting vice-principal saw my marksheet, he encouraged me to join the Engineering course instead. And so it was that I enrolled for the Chemical Engineering course in Andhra University. All this is must stress was without any coaching. Financial conditions at home were strained and all I could afford then was to borrow notes from a friend and study. The subsidized fees at Government College was the only reason I could complete my B.Tech (Thank you all diligent tax-payers!)

All was not smooth sailing from then on either. While my overall academic performance was now constantly good, my health failed me in the final years of college. So much so that, down with typhoid, I have had to answer my ‘Mass Transfer’ Lab exam from the hospital bed! And more than once I’ve taken the ambulance back to school to write an exam and then promptly gotten back to the hospital. It was only due to the support of the teachers, students and staff at college that I could make it through that tough period.


It would appear I’ve been extremely lucky… However, Luck must work hand-in-hand with Hardwork, Confidence and Focus to channel one’s intelligence, for optimum results.


The decision to go to Management School also happened by chance. After completing my Engineering studies, I worked for two years- first at Engineers India Limited (EIL), Delhi then at Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in Bokaro. It was in Bokaro that at the insistence of a friend, Syed Shabbir Ul Haq, I filled up the form and eventually appeared for the exam with no expectations that I would clear it.

When the call came from IIM- Calcutta I took 2 days leave from the company and appeared for the interview (with zero preparations, and in ordinary pant-shirt matched with slippers!). I answered the questions put to me in broken English having been out of touch with communicating in English (at the steel plant communication with workers largely took place in hindi or regional languages). However, all my night-shifts at work spent reading Financial Newspapers paid off rich dividends. I confidently fielded complex questions on Finance and was thus selected for the fellowship programme.

At first glance, it would appear I’ve been extremely lucky, and I’d be the first to accept that claim. However, Luck must work hand-in-hand with Hardwork, Confidence and Focus to channel one’s intelligence, for optimum results.