Turning 18 with HT: ‘Youth should lead change they want to see’
Apala Mandal, head girl of Delhi Public School, Chandigarh believes her generation is intelligent but stifled by injustice, corruption and cut-throat competition in societypunjab Updated: Jan 08, 2018 16:49 IST
Born: September 22, 2000
Badge of honour: Head girl, Delhi Public School, Chandigarh
Taking the initiative: She believes her generation is intelligent but stifled by injustice, corruption and cut-throat competition in society; she hopes youngsters will overcome these challenges to steer India ahead for ‘we are capable of achieving far more with far less’
What turning 18 means to me
Eighteen is just another number for me. It’s a number that legally and socially confirms what our parents and teachers have been trying to instill in us: That our thoughts, ideas, actions and behaviour have repercussions and consequences. We have to be responsible for them.
What I want to be and why
I want to be a diplomat. I could be an Indian Foreign Service officer or India’s representative at the United Nations. I have a knack for resolving and preventing conflicts. Friends count on me as I’m good at peacemaking so why not play that role at the highest level where it matters the most?
My idea of India
The youth of India have brilliant, amazing minds but they are stifled by the injustice, corruption and cut-throat competition in our society. They are frontrunners when it comes to demanding change but when asked to be the agents of that change, India’s youth takes a collective step backward. That fear, that apathy, that lethargy, scares me.
What makes me happy
My family is super supportive. Conversations with my mother, who is a scientist, sharing stories with my dad, who is also a biologist, and cracking jokes with my 13-year-old sister make me happy. Music makes me happy and I’m fond of South Korean boy band BTS (the Bangtan Boys). I’m learning Korean through online apps to appreciate the lyrics better. I’m a humanities student and am fond of history and languages. I like reading historical fiction and The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple is a favourite.
What makes me angry
I’m level-headed and don’t lose my cool easily but if you insist I’d say when people fail to keep their promise, it is upsetting. I give my word with a lot of gravity and I expect others to do so too.
Fear and fantasy
I fear that I won’t be able to live up to the expectations of people and sometimes even myself.
It’s my fantasy that one day I will return to Delhi Public School, Chandigarh, as a chief guest. I also want to travel the world and see the places I’ve read so much about and already fallen in love with such as London, Athens, Seoul and Melbourne. Most people tend to skip Africa but I want to go there and discover Ghana.
Am I happy where I am?
I’m happy now with my family but I know that following my dreams will take me to someplace happier. I’m looking to take up a course in political science and international relations in Singapore. I’ll return to India for sure because I want to take the civil services and opt for the Indian Foreign Service. To me, happiness is not something you have to achieve. You can feel happy during the process of achieving something.
What money means to me
Anyone who says that money is not important is living in denial. Money helps in fulfilling dreams and also filling the stomach. But there are some things more important than money. When it comes to choosing a job, I’d rank satisfaction and security over the package I’m offered.
What makes me proud of India
I’m proud of how innovative, intelligent and resourceful Indians are. Once the Mars Orbiter Mission succeeded, we proved to the world that in science, like in every other field, Indians are capable of achieving far more with far less.
What I can’t live without
I can’t do without my friends and family. In this crazy, confused and occasionally terrifying world, they provide me confidence, clarity and support.
What social media means to me
Social media is a tool that can be used to achieve miracles. Crowdfunding is an example. Social media was created to facilitate human conversation not replace it. If used judiciously, it is a vital link.
The change you’d like to see in your city
Chandigarh SSP (Traffic) Shashank Anand was at my school recently as a chief guest. I would urge our representatives in positions of power to be more open to meeting and interacting with the aam aadmi. It gives us the feeling that they are there for us and willing to help. I would also want Korean language lessons to be taught in Chandigarh and a restaurant that serves Korean cuisine.
What religion means to me
Religion is the path one chooses to be closer to one’s God. It’s a personal choice and should be respected as such. Different religions are like different paths to the same goal, that of inner peace. Religious chauvinism makes no sense. The idea that one path is better than the other is baseless. Even not having faith in any religion is a choice.
My role model and why
My mom Lolitika Mandal, an associate professor of biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali, is my role model. As a scientist, she has one of the toughest and most demanding jobs but she never fails to balance home and work. She is always in the mood for a quick smile or a silly joke. I value what she once told me: If you want to get something done, you’ll find a way. But if you don’t want to do something, you’ll find an excuse.
Change I want to see in India
I want the youth of India to shake off the lethargy and fatalistic approach towards changing the system. I want us to become the change we demand so vigorously. There’s a dearth of effective young leaders. Today, the leaders focus on economic minorities, caste, religion rather than the demands of the youth.