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Pune’s 30 Under 30 - Part 1: young achievers aiming for the stars

Real success and fulfilment comes from pursuing one’s passion. That’s the common thread binding the best and the brightest on Pune’s horizon. From bringing about changes in their own fields to helping the deprived and underprivileged, these young front-runners are dramatically altering the futurescape of the city, and beyond. On the occasion of HT’s first anniversary, meet Pune’s hottest ‘30 Under 30’ achievers.

pune Updated: Jun 24, 2018 17:29 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,30 Under 30,young achievers
On the occasion of HT Pune’s first anniversary, meet Pune’s hottest ‘30 Under 30’ achievers. (HT PHOTO)

ARCHING HER WAY TOWARDS SUCCESS AND GLORY

1. Divya Dhayal (17), archer

In the news because:

Her blazing victories at international archery championships have made

headlines: Bronze at the World Youth Archery championship in Rosario

Argentina; Silver and Bronze medals at the Asia Cup 2018, Philippines; Bronze at the Asia Cup 2018 Bangkok and Silver at the World Cup 2018, Turkey. She is now headed for Asia Cup in Taiwan in July.

Passionate about:

Divya is passionate about the field she has chosen and hopes to achieve much more in it. She is looking forward to reaching great heights through her game.

Making a difference:

Wants to see this world turn into a better place for women. Divya says, “I would like to change the prejudices people have against women. And, the first step in this direction is that women need to start respecting and supporting each other. We need to be there for each other. That is my sincere effort each day, I respect and support women.”

Hobbies and interests:

Music, trekking and adventure sports.

AIMS FOR GENDER EQUALITY AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

2. Amit Jain (25), social worker

In the news because:

Appointed as Global Youth Ambassador for India by the innovative international charity Theirworld which helps children fulfil their potential. Amit is also a member of the Commonwealth Students Welfare Group of India.

Passionate about:

Changing the world through gender and cultural diversity and working towards an inclusive society for widows and their children. “One day I want to wake up to find gender equality is real. I would like to see every girl feel safe about staying out late, wear what she pleases and above all be free to live by herself. All of this may sound ambitious, but I am hoping to bring about a change slowly and steadily,” he says.

Making a difference:

As the founder of the NGO, Mitti Ke Rang, Amit has been working for gender equality and widow empowerment through various initiatives. “I have lived in challenging situations. Having lost my dad at an early age, I saw my mom toil. As a young widow she could not find any information or get access to support groups to help her out. We often talk about issues women face, but have rarely spent time thinking about the well-being of widows in our society. In India alone, there are more than 42 million widows out of which 60% live in very dismal conditions. I come from a lower middle-class Indian family and have faced many hardships. My father did not live long enough to see me become something. I have lived in so many challenging situations that widows and their children have to face, often feeling frustrated and helpless. I couldn’t find any information or get access to support groups that could help widows. It was then that I made it my mission to fill the gap and start Mitti Ke Rang.”

Hobbies and interests:

Travelling as a backpacker. Has travelled to 25 states in India, and some countries. He sees travelling as a journey in personal exploration. He believes it gives him an opportunity to learn more about himself, his limitations and how to adapt in various situations and conditions. On the professional front, it helps him meet new people and a chance to interact with change makers.

AIMING FOR A TRANSPARENT, PEOPLE-CENTRIC ADMINISTRATION

3. Piyush Salunkhe (24), IAS OT

In the news because:

Of his achievement of All India Rank 63 in Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Examination, 2017 and fifth in Maharashtra which will make him an IAS officer/district magistrate/district collector.

Passionate about:

Creating a transparent, an accountable, responsive and people-centric administration by engaging and devising good governance practices.

Making a difference:

With small incremental positive steps tolerant and accommodating for its fallouts is the kind of change required in society. “Towards this, I would like to implement administrative reforms in form of quality and timely service delivery with grievance redressal mechanisms which initiates and increases public faith in administration and shapes public perception. Also, I will like to initiate change in the patriarchal mindset in society by giving emphasis to female education, health, safety and empowerment. I would also work towards protection and preservation of environment by balancing developmental needs and environmental concerns. Additionally, there are millions of people in the country that starve of hunger and at the same time there are millions of tonnes of food wastage daily. I would like to bridge this demand and supply gap.”

Hobbies and interests:

Piyush is inclined towards physical fitness through exercising, sports, parkour and trekking. “I also love travelling which makes me meet new people of different cultures and identities and accumulate a wealth of new amazing experiences. I like having conversations which expose me to new ideas, disciplines and chain of thoughts.” Piyush also likes to teach as it gives an opportunity to share the little knowledge one has accumulated of this world and shape the next generation. “Most importantly, teaching and learning go hand in hand, therefore it is a continuous learning opportunity from the students and fellow teachers.”

TOYING WITH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

4. Shivani Pethe (25), project assistant, IUCAA Science Toys

In the news because:

Her accomplishments as a Science Toy Maker will now see her revive the Science for Toys Centre at IUCAA (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics) which was lying dormant for the last few years.

Passionate about:

Science toys. “I love to travel to places mostly rural areas in the north east to spread the concept of science toys. It gives me joy to help them understand science and the logic behind science toys,” says Shivani.

Making a difference:

Wants teachers to increasingly use science toys as a teaching aid. “Each and every kid should be able to learn science through toys, without any fear of exams. Science is something that needs to be explored. Every school should have a science toys’ laboratory from the first grade. This will help boost creativity among the children, increase their concept clarity make learning science a fun activity. I have a dream of setting up a lab in each and every school of India.”

Hobbies and interests:

Make and play with toys. Shivani also enjoys travelling, “I pick areas that are unexplored by many as it gives you a new perspective to look at things.”

SWITCHING GEARS WISELY WITH EASE

5. Mrunmayee Deshpande (29), actor-director

In the news because:

Her roles in Marathi films Shikari and Farzand. Her directorial debut with the film Que Sera Sera is much anticipated.

Passionate about:

Everything that is creative and falls under the realm of entertainment. She says, “My true passionate lies in acting and I am fortunate enough to have pursued it as a profession. I thoroughly enjoy every aspect and nuance of films, be it directing, acting or simply watching.”

Making a difference:

Wants to embrace and change the environment through permaculture-sustainability and self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems. Mrunmayee says, “My husband and I recently visited a place that creates awareness and promotes permaculture. We soon want to incorporate it in our lifestyle.” She sees films as a medium for change too, “Cinema has the potential to tell stories and reach masses. I want to be associated with scripts that make a difference. My latest release Farzand told a brave tale of the Maratha warfare in an action-drama tale.”

Hobbies and interest:

Enjoys reading and travelling. She adds, “Trekking is in my blood. My father was one of the pioneers of trekking in the state. I enjoy trekking and travelling and hope to do more of it this year.”

BLEND OF BEAUTY AND BRAINS

6. Sonalee Kulkarni (30), actor

In the news because:

Sonalee completed a successful decade in the Marathi film industry in 2018 and won several awards for her films so far. She went under a complete look change for her film Hampi directed by Prakash Kunte and played the character of a tomboy for the first time on screen.

Passionate about:

Dance. She has many hit songs to her credit. She says, “I have always been passionate about dance. I enjoy traditional as well as contemporary dance forms. It is extremely close to my heart and I can dance all day long.”

Making a difference:

Wants to help achieve equal opportunities and equal pay for female talent in the industry. Sonalee says, “I hope that the exploitation for work by people in power ends soon. In society, would love to work for women, their independence and empowerment.”

Hobbies and interests:

Travel. Sonalee likes to exploring the unexplored.Was recently on a month-long trip to Europe. “I explored many places this year and did all of it alone. It was a year of solo trips and I am glad I did it. It is an experience that teaches you a lot. With so much of scrutiny, comfort and protective people around me all the time, I had to find a way to explore. I am glad travelling helped me,” says Sonalee.

ART’S THE WAY

7. Kshitija Sarda (22), artist and writer

In the news because:

She founded Pune’s Platform for Artists and initiated the idea ‘Art all Night’.

Passionate about:

Experiential and informal education. Through ‘Platform For Artists’ has met travel bloggers, belly dancers, calligraphy artists and others from whom she has learnt different art forms, varied lifestyles and insights into human behaviour.

Kshitija says, “Constant learning is the only thing that makes me what I am today. I strongly believe that experience is the richest form of knowledge one can acquire.”

Making a difference:

Wants to help promote a tolerance for thoughts and ideas. “Without any judgment, criteria or guidelines every individual should have the freedom to express his creative thoughts in front of people. That is when we all will be able to grow together and make this world a better place to live, by creating awareness and inspiring each other.” Kshitija also wants to bring about a change in the art scene for the youth. She says, “The night-long party initiated by PFA is a platform for various artistes to collaborate and create interesting initiatives. We hold meetings where artistes meet, create art and discuss possible collaborations. We believe art should be free from any barriers, language, monetary or any other. Our online platform will help artistes publish their works for free, which will give them exposure and accessibility.”

Hobbies and interests:

Her curiosity about science, politics, sports and cinema keeps her occupied most of the time.

BRIDGING MUSIC, COMMUNICATION AND MARKETING

8. Gandhaar Sangoram (30), music composer and social media specialist

In the news because:

Won awards for Best Background Score for the Marathi film Ringan, which also won the National Award for Best Marathi Film. Composed music for the films Baapjanma, which was widely appreciated and critically acclaimed.Composed music for the feature film Dhappa and short film Mayat, both of which won National Awards. He also runs social media campaigns for Marathi films and plays.

Passionate about:

Music. Gandhaar says, “Very few people can actually turn their passion into profession. Music is my hobby, passion and life. Communication and marketing is something that I just found along the way, exploring myself. People and music, two things that I can’t do without are my hobbies and interests.”

Making a difference:

Wants to see greater experimentation with mainstream cinema and theatre. Music doesn’t necessarily have to be stereotypical- different for experimental theatre and different for commercial art forms. He says, “The audience needs to be more receptive towards various forms of music.This freedom of expression will liberate us as composers to be more bold and more creative.” On social media, he feels it has, and will have even more power in the future to influence the mindset of generations together, which we don’t realise now.

Hobbies and interests:

Music and music alone.

REACHING OUT WITH LEGAL AND HEALTH ASSISTANCE

9. Manasa Rao (25), legal assistance startup entrepreneur

In the news because:

Founded Reach Out, a voluntary group, provides legal and health assistance to women in oppressed communities and imparts education to children. Her latest project is Women’s Health and Employment Programme which aims to scale opportunities for underprivileged women in Maharashtra.

Passionate about:

Quality education and gender equality. Manasa says, “Increasing access to quality education and empowerment of women has been my sole aim since the inception of Reach Out. We have been diligently working towards spreading awareness on legal and health issues for women in oppressed communities. We also help impart education to children from similar areas and help them with a better future. ”

Making a difference:

Wants to involve the youth, inspire and motivate them to take up the cause of nation building. She says, “I would like to push them to see the world as it can be- a world that has achieved education for all, a world that isn’t crippled with poverty, and a world where women are treated as equals.”

Hobbies and interests:

A Brown Belt in karate, Manasa loves horse riding . She admits to being a voracious reader and also dreams of becoming a pilot.

THE WORLD’S HER STAGE

10. Dhanashree Heblikar (27), theatre actor and musician

In the news because:

Her role as a creative director in the only Hindi Theatre Group, Swatantra Theatre in Pune has been noteworthy. She has been taking care of five wings: theatre plays (based on various social issues), children’s theatre, theatre for society, training programmes and film productions.

Passionate about:

Working for Hindi literature, connecting youth to literature and creating ethical sensitivities through a creative process.

Making a difference:

Firmly believes in the arts as an effective medium of communication. “Every artist as a reason is the master of observation, courage and compassion. Be it through street theatre, playback theatre, community theatre or our regular proscenium plays, Abhijeet Choudhary (co-founder), Yuwaraj Shah (producer) and I, we have tried to touch people’s hearts,” she says. She would like to see the pinnacle of value creation in society. “Cut-throat competition which we now witness everywhere can help us just earn conspicuous benefits. But the inconspicuous benefits become the treasure of our heart which help us lead a life without regrets. Our children theatre programme also aims at developing the same values of co-working, team spirit, understanding History and exploring the greatest literature.”

Hobbies and interests:

Enjoys listening to and composing music, reading and painting.

EMBARKING TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE JOURNEY

11. Ankita Shroff (27), startup entrepreneur

In the news because:

She co-founded SAV Chemicals which manufactures instant adhesives.

Passionate about:

Sustainability, startups, travelling and exploring.

Making a difference:

Wants to work towards empowering women to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey and create sustainable businesses. Ankita says, “I would like to look at integrating sustainability in our lifestyle along with responsible leadership and focus on FIKA (Female Financial Investments and Knowledge Awareness).”

Hobbies and interests:

Badminton, playing the piano and yoga.

HELPING ORPHANS AND DEPRIVED CHILDREN

Amruta Karwande (23), social worker

In the news because:

For working for the rights and betterment of orphans. Because of her struggle, the Maharashtra government gave a 1% reservation for orphans in education and employment.

Passionate about:

Helping orphans and the underprivileged. She says, “I want to become an idol for orphans and the deprived children, who are struggling. I am helping them to stand on their feet. I want to be able to provide them with assistance for their lives forward.”

Making a difference:

By bringing about an equal society. “Where we have equal rights to live a life. A proper education, opportunity, good standard of living, job, and a respectful life for everyone,” adds Amruta.

Hobbies and interests:

Warli painting and travelling.

SINGING SOULFUL SONGS OF SUCCESS

13. Arya Samir Ambekar (23), singer and actor

In the news because:

Completed Sangeet Visharad and came second all over India.Won awards for her debut film ‘Ti Saddhya Kay Karte’ opposite late actor Laximant Berde’s son Abhinay Berde and playback singing awards for her song ‘Hridayat Waje something’.

Passionate about:

Singing. She is working on a video single after almost a year, seeing the huge response people have given to her Marathi single ‘Alawar’ and Hindi single ‘Kaare Se’. Arya says, “It is going to be a complete surprise for my fans and audiences.”

Making a difference:

In the field of music. Arya says, “People are seen being biased about specific genres of music. So I think, be it Hindustani classical music or light music or western, each genre has its own identity and uniqueness and needs equal hard work and efforts by the artist to pursue till perfection and it should be honoured.” She adds that music is universal and everyone should have a chance to present what he or she wants to. “Music should not be judged on the basis of language or region.”

Hobbies and interests:

Reading, listening to music, watching English series, reading and learning about new inventions in the field of medicine. Arya says, “My father is a doctor and I have always had a keen interest in the field of medicine. So, I try to keep myself updated on new researches and other important things happening in the field.”

TURNED HIS PASSION INTO PROFESSION SUCCESSFULLY 

14. Amey Wagh (29), actor

In the news because:

Outstanding portrayal of a young detective in award-winning Marathi film Faster Fene and as a young lovelorn boy in Muramba.

Passionate about:

Acting, be it theatre, television or films. “I turned my hobby of acting into my profession. So, I am not passionate about anything except for acting. Acting is something I thoroughly enjoy doing,” he says.

Making a difference:

Wants to see television turn into a smart medium and not remain an idiot box. “We need to stop underestimating the audience and assume their choices. We need to have more experiments,” he says. Wants to see more expertise and professionalism in promoting and packaging a film. Amey adds, “No matter how great your film is, if it doesn’t reach the right audience then it won’t make any difference. We need to look at streamlining the process of movie promotions and the way a film is presented. We need to see innovative and experimentative techniques being encouraged.”

Hobbies and interests:

Enjoy watching films and listening to music. Amey adds, “Honestly, I do all of the above only because it is related to my profession. I am not particularly interested in anything as such.”

HOPING FOR A CLEAN, GREEN AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

15. Arjun Kadhe (24), professional tennis player

In the news because:

Professional tennis player who played all four junior grand slams. Was number one in juniors and is now at number five at Davis cupper in men’s.

Passionate about:

Tennis. “I love the life on the professional tour, where you get to travel all around the world to represent your country and also to take part in some of the historic tennis events in the world,” says Arjun.

Making a difference:

Wants to help protect the environment by keeping it clean and green. He adds, “I would really like to encourage people to keep their backyard and society green by planting more trees and taking care of them. I’m also keen on encouraging people to change and include a sport or any physical activity in their daily life.”

Hobbies and interests:

Listening to music, watching movies and trying to cook.

(Inputs by Ananya Barua, Ashish Phadnis and Prachi Bari)

(HT Photos by Pratham Gokhale, Rahul Raut, Sanket Wankhade and Shankar Narayan)

First Published: Jun 24, 2018 17:28 IST