Raising the bar of brilliance | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Raising the bar of brilliance

High flyers In the second of our six-part series celebrating achievers from the northern region, Hindustan Times features six youngsters from the fields of media, entertainment, sports and social service who have broken the age convention and redefined excellence in their respective fields.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 06, 2013 09:22 IST

Navneet Kaur Dhillon
20, Miss India World 2013, Patiala

A student of Television, Film Production and Media at Punjabi University, Patiala, Navneet went on to wear the Miss India World crown at the pageant this year. With an aim to make a difference in the society, Navneet has acted in a few short films that target social issues. Films have been an active medium for her to communicate her message to the audience. Navneet will now be seen representing the country in the Miss World pageant, being held in Indonesia on September 28, hoping to get the crown home after 12 long years.



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Q. Who is your youth icon and why?



A. It’s difficult to pinpoint one icon. A lot of people inspire me in many different ways. So far, boxer Mary Kom tops the list.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. I’d like to see everyone in the society get equal opportunities. Gender inequality is the biggest hindrance in our growth as a nation. To eradicate the same, we need to raise the level of education being received at the grass-root level. Another major concern for our country is the security of women.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. The enthusiasm and the power and will to change. We want a new India and we are working towards it in our own ways. We have the strength to stand up for what we believe in, which will eventually lead us to a better tomorrow.


Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. Self-belief and love for the nation are a must if the youth wants to see India develop. The youth should actively participate in social activities and help the government run policies that help the common man. Sitting idle and waiting for the government to make changes will not help.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. Proper execution of right to education and welfare programmes such as NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). Over the next decade, India should be a nation where no one goes to bed hungry. Our nation already has its laws in place, we only need to plug the loopholes and follow them strictly.

Geeta Phogat
24, wrestler (freestyle), Bhiwani

Hailing from the conservative state of Haryana, Geeta not only took up wrestling, but also became the first-ever Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics. She is also the first female wrestler from India who won a gold medal in the 55-kg freestyle category in women’s wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In 2009, she also won the gold at Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, Jalandhar. Her inspiration to wrestle came from her father and coach, Mahavir Singh. Geeta also trains under wrestling chief, coach OP Yadav and foreign expert Ryan Dobo and has won three consecutive medals in the Asian Cadet Championships.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?

A. Former Indian weightlifter, Karnam Malleswari. She won a bronze for the country in 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. I would like to see Indian women excel in all spheres of life. I want India to be a country where women are not only granted equal opportunity, but are also allowed to follow their convictions without the society’s interference.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. ‘Freedom to follow one’s dream’ is what defines young India. Though India has progressed a lot, we still have miles to go.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. Providing the youth with a conducive environment would drive them to bring about change.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?



A. Education, women empowerment and eradication of poverty.



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Babita Phogat
22, wrestler (freestyle), Bhiwani

She is the other half of the dangerous duo of Haryana’s poster girls — Geeta and Babita. Following in the footsteps of Geeta, Babita too took inspiration from father Mahavir Singh, a former wrestler. Her hard work paid off when she won the silver medal in Delhi Commonwealth Games (51-kg category) in 2010. With her never-say-die attitude, Babita wants to emulate elder sister, Geeta.

Q. Who is your youth icon and why?

A. My elder sister Geeta Phogat and my father, because I have learnt everything I know from them.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. Equality and security for women. When we started our career in wrestling, we faced a lot of ridicule; the same people praise us now. I believe women have the same rights as men to follow their dreams.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. Determination and ambition — that is all that one requires to succeed today, and we, the Indian youth, have that.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. What we need today is a dynamic leader, who not only understands the masses’ problems, but also has the potential to solve them. If such a leader can bring the youth together, there’s no social evil we cannot eradicate.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. Good education, healthcare and eradicating poverty.

Gurpreet Saini
25, actor, Chandigarh

Chandigarh-born and bred youngster Gurpreet Saini did his schooling from St Stephen’s and was a student of DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. It was around this time that he started doing theatre and pursued it for seven years as an actor, writer, producer and lyrics writer. Gurpreet finally got a break when satirist Jaspal Bhatti cast him in one of his short films. He shifted base to Mumbai soon after and made his movie debut in Ashwini Chaudhary’s Jodi Breakers. Mumbai helped Gurpreet bag several ads with renowned brands. Recently, he played the lead in MTV’s first fiction comedy TV series, MTV Reality Stars and debuted as a lyricist with Saadi Galli from Nautanki Saala.



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Q. Who is your youth icon and why?

A. I can’t single out one icon. I look up to different people for different things. For living a righteous and a disciplined life, Ayushmann Khurrana; Shiv Thapa, the young Indian boxer, is a perfect example of going after what you want with all your heart.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. A major change is required to rid a common man of his everyday fears — the fear of injustice, of bureaucracy, red-tapism and of course, corrupt politicians.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. Indian youth is aware, that’s our positive, but the awareness comes with a sense of indifference and acute impatience. But, Indian youth’s biggest problem is the fact that we are pretty confused. On one side we want to change the world, make it better, and on the other, we are bothered about only ourselves. A small example is when our patriotism emerges for the 52 seconds of the National Anthem in movie theatres, and dies down by the time the movie begins. What we lack is passion.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. The youth of our country needs to change its attitude and deal with our country’s issues responsibly. Earning money and getting settled shouldn’t be our ultimate goal. When we expect a better quality of life, we must work towards it. Change gets ignited at the very basic level — if you know the law, follow the law — everything else will fall in place.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. India will progress only if people’s mindsets progress too. We have to come out of our dogmatic beliefs and strive to find a balance between traditions and pragmatism, which is possible only through education. Educating one and all should be our country’s top priority over the next decade.

Paul Singh
29, co-founder & creative head of H Degree, Chandigarh

What started off as a pending college promise turned into H degree — a brand consultancy and brand management firm. After completing his post-graduation in Advertising Media & Communications, and working as a copywriter in Mumbai, Paul returned home to team up with business partner, Harkirat, and start H Degree on a shoe-string budget, from the basement of his house. Over the course of three years, H Degree stands proud of its association with renowned brands and firms such as Wrapville, Kava, Basil & Bean, Purple Rice, Jagat Singh & Sons. Known for his witty remarks, Paul is famous for his blog, cockybox.com and also writes for GQ India.

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Q. Who is your youth icon and why?



A. The men behind Flipkart — Sachin and Binny. They best define the energy, entrepreneurial skills and opportunity-led destiny of the youngsters of today.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. I think what we’re missing in India is nationalism, because everyone — businessmen, bureaucrats, professionals — is busy squandering for the pot of gold. Blurred by this very idea, they are building an ecosystem on grenades. For instance, we are building schools not to educate, but to create a mass mechanical drone assembly line; with the cash register underlying the institutes’ mission statement. In short, unless we look at ourselves and our surroundings — the way we would if we were to land in a foreign country — there would only be ruble left to gather. The best way to approach this is to re-map our
education model.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. I think the Indian youth has the resilience, brains and stamina needed to pull a nation forward.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. There is immense potential in our country and the best way to accelerate change is by putting in practice a newly designed education system; one that instills pride and lends a sense of belonging.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. Putting a full stop to corruption, re-designing the education system and having a family-planning model, maybe like China.


Suman
27, vice-president of Gramin Yuva Vikas Mandal, Kaithal, Haryana

Associated with about a dozen NGOs in her home district, Suman has helped women in constituting about 45 self-help groups (SHGs). Despite being honoured at the national and state level, Suman still rues the fact that her family never appreciated her role as a social activist. Recently, she was honoured with the National Youth Award 2011-12 by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.



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Q. Who is your youth icon & why?



A. I take Raj Kumar Gaur, the accountant of Nehru Yuva Kendra in Kaithal, as my guru; he motivated me to join the social sector. Himself a committed social activist, Gaur has encouraged several youngsters to work for the betterment of the society.

Q. What revolutionary change(s) would you like to see in the nation by 2020?

A. Corruption is a major hindrance in our country’s development. Each member of the society should take responsibility for the eradication of corruption, beginning at the grass-root level.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. Despite having the world’s largest population of youngsters, India is yet to see the youth’s presence in the social sector. The size of our population, our biggest strength, can work to our advantage, if only we let it.

Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. Children should be guided towards making efforts to bring about a positive change in the society. We desperately need a youth icon who has the potential to become a source of inspiration for others.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. Scientific food grain management should be developed to ensure no wastage. While India is among the largest producer of food grains of the world, each year tonnes of wheat gets rotten.
A. I’d like to see everyone in the society get equal opportunities. Gender inequality is the biggest hindrance in our growth as a nation. To eradicate the same, we need to raise the level of education being received at the grass-root level. Another major concern for our country is the security of women.

Q. What in your view best defines the young spirit of India?

A. The enthusiasm and the power and will to change. We want a new India and we are working towards it in our own ways. We have the strength to stand up for what we believe in, which will eventually lead us to a better tomorrow.


Q. What would drive the youth to become the change-makers of today?

A. Self-belief and love for the nation are a must if the youth wants to see India develop. The youth should actively participate in social activities and help the government run policies that help the common man. Sitting idle and waiting for the government to make changes will not help.

Q. What should India’s priorities be over the next ten years?

A. Proper execution of right to education and welfare programmes such as NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). Over the next decade, India should be a nation where no one goes to bed hungry. Our nation already has its laws in place, we only need to plug the loopholes and follow them strictly.