Power of will, and the triumph of hard work

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 28, 2014 15:35 IST

Meet a sportsperson who has won a national award in painting, and he does not even have hands. He is just one of the achievers featured today as we celebrate the potential and success of young people overcoming all sorts of hurdles to make their mark.

‘Believe in your abilities’

Jagwinder Singh
23 Patran, Patiala
Para-cyclist, painter

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/8/JagwinderSingh_compressed.jpgFor Jagwinder, being physically challenged is certainly not an insurmountable hurdle. So much so, that it has not stopped him from becoming a top-rated cyclist. Born without arms below his elbow, Jagwinder learned to paint using his feet, which earned him a national award. He then learned to cycle and started taking part in races. Currently he is preparing for the upcoming national championship.

How do you define success?

For me, success is achieving what one desires most, in the face of hardships, with the help of constant efforts and a strong will.

Who inspires you, and why?

All those people who laid down their lives for the country, be it Guru Gobind Singh, Bhagat Singh or any soldier.

What has been your biggest achievement, and what is your ultimate goal?

My achievements, so far, have been winning the first place in an all-India painting competition, learning cycling, and teaching my students how to draw. My goal is to make the country and my state proud by winning a gold medal in the paralympics.

Three things that can make India an ideal nation.

Making some positive changes in the present Indian education system and ensuring that everyone is able to afford education; weeding out corruption; and controlling the menace of drug abuse.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?

First of all, the youth should understand their responsibility and duty towards the country. Instead of pointing out flaws in the system, or blaming the government and its policies, they need to questions themselves about what are they doing for the country. Also, youngsters should raise their voice against corruption.

What is your message for physically challenged people who want to pursue their passions despite limitations?

Even if you fail time and again, do not give up on efforts. Always tell yourself that you are the best. Others may try to dissuade you by saying negative things, but always try to have a positive outlook towards life. Believe in your abilities.

(By Kuldeep Panwar)

‘I believe in the adage: Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it’

Hargun Kaur
18, Amritsar Singer

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/8/Hargun_compressed.jpgThis teenager from the holy city made the most of the opportunity provided by TV reality show ‘India’s Got Talent’ and was the only singer in the finals. But it was no fluke. Now a BA student at BBK DAV College in Amritsar, Hargun had started singing at the age of three, with Gurbani. "Reciting kirtan definitely opens up one’s vocals, and also gives you knowledge of ragas," she says.

Her first performance was at the age of nine in New Delhi for a talent hunt, and next she was in ‘Voice of Punjab’, where she made it to the grand finale. She has done playback for some plays and recorded shabads for TV channel Zee-ETC Punjabi.

What is success to you?

They say, ‘Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.’ Success means fulfilling all my dreams, braving all the obstacles.

Who inspires you, and why?

Shankar Mahadevan, because he is a composer, singer and a performer par excellence.

What‘s your biggest achievement so far?

’India’s Got Talent’ was the turning point in my life. Ultimately I wish to become a successful playback singer, a composer and a performer too.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.

Bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots; combating corruption; and dealing effectively with religious fanaticism.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?

Youth is like fire — a spark at first, growing into a flame, then brightening into a blaze. Youth must take active part in politics.

What does music mean to you?

It is food for my soul. It is capable of expressing what words and gestures cannot as its communicative power is infinite.

Do you feel reality shows would help you grow faster?

It is definitely a stepping stone, because it was a learning experience and has also given me recognition.

(By Usmeet Kaur)

It’s simple: work hard

Sangram Singh
29 Madina, Rohtak, Actor, former wrestler


Before he became known as a model and actor, Sangram Singh won many medals for India in amateur wrestling. From a farmers’ clan, he was born premature and suffered from arthritis in childhood. But that he overcame. Belonging to a family of agriculturists, he has an MA in history from MDU, Rohtak, and first shot to fame via TV reality show ‘Bigg Boss’. Since then , eh has worked in many reality shows and serials on TV.

How do you define success?

It does not mean making money. It means being to take responsibility for those who were not blessed like us. In my personal life, I have dedicated a part of my resources for budding sportspersons.

Who inspires you and why?

First, my parents. Second, my wrestling mentor who believed in me when others made fun of my health. Them all those big names — from Lal Bahadur Shastri to Dhirubhai Ambani, who made it big in their life despite hailing from a humble background.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what is your ultimate goal?

The turning point was when I realised my childhood dream after being crowned as champion in the Senior World Amateur Wrestling Championship in 2005 at Hungary. I aspired to enter professional wrestling and ended up in Big Boss and now Bollywood.

Three things that can make India an ideal nation.

People should bring a change in attitude, think of contributing to the nation, not the other way around. Everyone should get an opportunity to study. Third, there must be a level-playing field in terms of opportunities for haves and have-nots.

In what way can youth participate in achieving that ideal India?

We are fortunate to have the world’s youngest population. Youth must focus in the right direction. That can be achieved by inculcating moral values.

How did you achieve all this despite being an outsider in showbiz?

It’s simple: Where there is a will, there is a way. Hard work pays off.

(By Sat Singh)

Making her mark in a business dominated by men

Shaheena Akhtar
29 Srinagar, Entrepreneur


Men have traditionally dominated Kashmir’s world-famous shawl business. Women have at best been weavers. But Shaheena Akhtar, a resident of Srinagar’s Nowshera area, the only literate family member among six siblings, not only charted a path of success for herself but her entire clan. Starting with one loom in 2004 and with a conscious decision, opposed by all except her elder brother Bashir Ahmad Rather, 35, this arts graduate became a shawl entrepreneur.

“Those who opposed my decision then have their children working with me now. More than a dozen relatives, mainly cousins, work at my 35 looms,” says Akhtar. She won the state’s Best Entrepreneur award last year and is the female face of the Kani shawl trade. She comes from humble origins. Daughter of a labourer, she took a loan of `8 lakh in 2011 from the Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) in south Kashmir’s Pampore, and has converted it into an annual turnover of Rs 80 lakh.

Her hand-woven shawls, particularly the ingenuity of creating the island of Char Chinari (the one inside the Dal lake) as an impression on shawls has been a runway hit, with very few artisans being able to replicate it. Her craft has already adorned markets of Europe. “I have buyers who have come from Malaysia and Italy,” beams Shaheena, who is a regular at art exhibitions outside the state too.

How do you define success?

Success for me was to stand up for the women of my area, who look up to me as inspiration. I have become a role model.

Who inspires you, and why?

My elder brother Bashir Ahmad Rather has been my inspiration and support. When nobody backed me, he had faith in me.

What has been the turning point, and what is your ultimate goal?

My first exhibition in Delhi changed my life. My goal is to directly deal with foreign buyers in markets like Europe.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.

Combat corruption; change the way people look at women and make them insecure; and give support to woman entrepreneurs.

In what way can youth participate in achieving that ideal?

The youth must fight corruption and make politicians accountable.

What is your dream for Kashmir’s art and artisans?

I aim to revive the art and craft to the level where younger generation is lured towards it. There is a need to revive state emporiums to display work of artisans. It has to become a dignified, lucrative trade.

(By Peerzada Ashiq)

Song and dance, and some serious acting prowess

Anjum Batra
29, Abohar, Actor

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/8/anjumbatra_compressed.jpgWith a childhood passion for singing and acting, Anjum dedicated eight years of his education to theatre and bhangra, and realised then that that is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. To pursue his dream further, he moved to Chandigarh and started learning music professionally from Varinder Bachchan, who inspired him further to become an actor and join the department of Indian theatre at Punjab University.

During his second year of MA there, while rehearsing for the play ‘Warren Hasting ka saand’, casting director Gautam Kishan Chandani noticed him and called him to audition for a character named Sunil in Dev D. That proved to be the turning point. While his father is a retired engineer, his mother is a homemaker. He has since appeared in several ads and also the Bollywood comedy ‘Luv Shuv tey Chicken Khurana’ besides Punjabi movies.

What is success to you?

Pursuing my dream of becoming a renowned and loved actor and singer.

Who inspires you and why?

Gurdaas Mann — be it his singing or acting skills or his stage persona, everything about his life’s journey, starting from a small town in Punjab to winning a million hearts all over the world, is a huge source of inspiration.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

I consider ‘Dev D’ as my first big achievement. Second, being able to make a comfortable space for me in showbiz

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.

Proper education, law-abiding people, and respect to foreigners who come to visit India.

How can youth participate to making that ideal India?

Today’s youth is mature and has the power to transform anything and everything.

Do you think acting courses are a big help in actually becoming an actor?

Actors are born, not made. But courses add a lot of value by giving aspirants a huge platform to discover what’s within them.

Are there enough chances in movies for good character actors now?

Yes, it’s much more than just glamour now. There are examples of talented actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irrfan Khan who, in spite of being outsiders with unconventional looks, have been able to impress people with their powerful roles.

What are your ultimate goals?
Becoming a much-loved actor and singer.

(By Nanki Singh)

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