Why I'm Going to India

I want to be someone. I craft versions of myself to make myself believe I am going somewhere. The uncertainty of the future is as certain as I make it to be yet still not entirely controllable by me. Who am I to be in this world I found myself in 21 odd years ago. What legacy did you want to impart?

College is a time to define yourself. I’ve called it multiple things; the most selfish time of your life, a place where kids come together to change the world, and an incubation phase before we leave the nest. I set a goal in the winter of 2015. I told myself one of my dreams amongst my larger dream was to go to India. Back then, I had no idea why. Some call it a calling. I wanted to logically explain it, to rationalize to myself why India before committing my energy, time, and focus towards it. I haven’t been able to do it articulately until now.

Two weeks ago, I was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to go to Jaipur, India to study Hindi for 12 weeks, by the US Department of State. My idea of going there is connected with my idea of the future, tumbling into this imaginative question, “What does the future look like?” We all have different conceptions of what the future and the most pressing concerns that inhabit it. An accurate prediction of the terrain of the future can greatly aid in a sense of vision at every step of the present.

I believe in the future, three countries will come out important: America, India, and China. The continent of Africa is also something to watch out for. Why do I say this? Pure economics. Which countries have the most amount of raw material, labor force, and economic potential? Human beings rely on raw materials for civilization. We owe our modern possibilities to the advancement or existence of materials: refinement of iron into steel, extraction of oil, and the configuration of silicon. Technological advancement is enabled by the raw material on which it is built off of.

Our society tends toward large corporations, mass production, and materialism because it makes a few people rich and money and trade are perceived powers in the ‘global culture’. As time continues, we must start thinking about the emergence of a global culture.

Now I don’t like thinking about this stuff. It’s depressing and saddening to see greed, lust for power, and the typical sins you read about in Dante’s Inferno manifest themselves in humanity time and time again. My mind opted for a simpler lifestyle, a simpler career, one that can allow me to focus on the beautiful aspects of life. I want my future work to be both simple and useful, and also help prevent our world from imploding due to our carbon emissions, material waste, and ethnic divide. I’m optimistic about a future where human beings come together to collectively reduce suffering and enable the pursuit of happiness for all. Is it ever possible to level the playing field? I don’t foresee that in my lifetime as paradigms are unattainable, yet we can try can’t we?

CLS Hindi marks the beginning of my transition toward my dream career; a career of helping people escape poverty, empowering them and giving opportunities and access to them to pursue their dreams. Whatever career I follow, I will want to work alongside people and to utilize my privilege of engineering school to improve people’s lives; after all, isn’t that what engineering is for? My goal is to be fully fluent in Hindi before 30, so that I can work in India, gain experience working with locals, and impart some impact.

If you look at the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN, we see that most of poverty is concentrated in India and Africa. 767 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. CP Snow perfectly articulates the poverty problem in his 1959 essay, The Two Cultures; how it exists in most of the back of our minds yet most of us continue our daily lives without a thought of it. What disheartens me is that all our technology is being focused to serve the top 10% of the world. Who’s designing for the other 90%; those living on less than $2, $5, and $10 a day? There’s an entirely underserved market that I want to design, engineer, and dedicate my life towards.

This will be the first summer where I dedicate entirely to language learning. I am excited to see how far I can push myself and the fluency I will gain. To document this journey, I want to include that I applied last year to this same scholarship but was rejected. This year I applied again with all my heart and the support of my mentors and got it. Thank you Monique yet again and Sarah and Kono-sensei. To Armaan and Praveen who encouraged me. To my parents, especially my mom who finally gave me the green light to go to India. She worries incessantly about my health. She’s the best. And most of all, thank you to Master who has always been there since day one and is a large reason I am the person I am today.