YOUNG AND INSPIRING, MEET THE ACHIEVERS
THE D-DAY IS HERE From across the social spectrum, across the northern region, and across fields, here is the list of achievers under the age of 30 to be honoured at the Fourth Annual HT Youth Forum to be held today. Some of them are clubbed as per their
Today is the day when we award achievers at the fourth annual edition of ‘HT Youth Forum: Top 30 Under 30’, an initiative that celebrates youth and excellence. As we present to you the whole set for 2014 on these pages, the diversity and variety are apparent. From sportspersons with tangible achievements to social workers whose work goes beyond statistics, we also feature young armymen who have emerged on top of their batch and are set to be military leaders of tomorrow.
There are, of course, some familiar faces from the world of showbiz and glamour, and they rub shoulders at the Forum with some quiet heroes, like the cyclist-painter who has not let physical disability actually prove disabling in any manner. It is this eclectic mix of personalities that defines the spirit of the Forum. There are also entrepreneurs of varied hues — a young man from Chandigarh who has dared to look beyond the globalchain model; and a Kashmiri woman who has broken through the social constraints and is now a shining example for her state and beyond.
In all these stories, you will also find rare determination to go beyond the clichés and an unmatched zest for life. 1a LT VISHAL DAHIYA 21, Jharoth, Sonepat, gold medallist from Indian Military Academy: From a farmer family in Jharoth village of Sonepat, studied at Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, Sonepat, and later got his BSc during training at NDA. From a batch of 700 cadets, he got the gold medal during his commissioning from IMA, Dehradun. He is now posted at Jammu.
1b LT VIKAS KALKAL 22, Imlota, Bhiwani, silver medallist from Indian Military Academy: Vikas Kalkal is the son of an army major, Tejveer Singh, and had decided to join the services after choosing to study in a military school at Bangalore from Class 6. He had studied at his native village’s school in Bhiwani district before that. Got into National Defence Academy and got a BSc during the four-year training at NDA, Khadakwasla. From the IMA, he got the President’s Silver Medal. He also played under-17 cricket and hockey for Karnataka. He is now posted at Samba, near Jammu.
2a MANAN VOHRA 21, Chandigarh, cricketer: The aggressive opener was one of the two players retained by Kings XI Punjab for the 2014 IPL season. And he proved them right when he won a key Man of the Match award against Delhi Daredevils. A child prodigy, he hails from a sporting family, the grandson of former hockey player YP Vohra. Manan has opened the innings also for India under-19, but was unlucky to miss the U-19 World Cup due to injury. He made his first-class debut in 2011-12 and scored his first-class highest of 187 against Jharkhand in Ranji Trophy a week before he was retained by Kings XI. He has also represented India-A.
2b SANDEEP SHARMA 21, Patiala, cricketer: He started out as a batsman. But a switch has so far worked for the medium pacer who is now known for his accuracy and economical spells. Sandeep was bought back by IPL squad KXIP in the 2014 season for ` 85 lakh. He rose to prominence in the IPL with his incisive bowling earning him three Man of the Match awards. His first brush with success came during the 2012 under-19 World Cup when he took four wickets in the final to propel India to the title. He made
his first-class debut in 2011. During the 2013-14 domestic season, he was the highest wickettaker for Punjab with 36 scalps.
3 QURAT-UL-AIN MASOODI 29, Srinagar,
chairperson, Aash, NGO for orphans: She left the lucrative world of engineering to brighten the lives of destitute orphans, whose number is multiplying fast in conflict-hit Kashmir. A chance visit to an orphanage and conversation with kids there in 2010 changed the course of Masoodi’s life and she decided to be a full-time activist. She started voluntary organisation Aash (‘hope’) that carried out a survey on mental health of orphans and knocked at the doors of the state human rights commission to close down an orphanage exploiting inmates. She opposes the idea of stereotypical orphanages and pushes for community adoption. Daughter of teachers, she visits orphanages to know the inmates’ requirements and accordingly works with them. “Some orphans are underfed. There are girls who need special health facilities and cannot speak freely. I talk to them to know their needs,” says Masoodi, who passed out of Srinagar’s SSM College of Engineering. She raises funds from friends and philanthropists and seeks psychiatrist friends’ help for the kids. “I frequently organise painting competitions to know the mental state of these children.”
4 MANREET KAUR 24, Hoshiarpur, actor: Manreet’s real name is Simpy Singh and she comes from a doctors’ family. While her father is an eye surgeon, her mother is a gynaecologist. She herself wanted to become a journalist, but life had other plans for her. While pursuing her graduation from MCM DAV College in Chandigarh, she joined the Theatre Army Group and was bitten by the acting bug. After finishing her graduation, she got into anchoring following which she got a call to appear in a 2010 Hollywood movie, ‘West is West’, starring veteran actor Om Puri. This was followed by a couple of advertising assignments, a Marathi movie and Punjabi films, most recently ‘Yaaran da Katchup’. Her upcoming projects include ‘White Lies’, an international production directed by Danis Tanovic, starring Emraan Hashmi, and an Ameesha Patel production titled ‘Desi Magic’. 5 VARUN SHARMA 24, Jalandhar, actor: Making his debut as the irrepressible 'Choocha' in Bollywood comedy ‘Fukrey', Jalandhar's Varun Sharma won many hearts and also got awards, An alumnus of The Lawrence School, Sanawar, and Apeejay School, Jalandhar, he has a bachelor’s degree in media, entertainment and film technology from FTII, Chandigarh
6 LOVEDEEP SINGH DHiingra 18, Jalandhar,
AIPMT topper: Lovedeep, now studying to become a doctor at AIIMS in Delhi, got the second rank in the All-India Pre-Medical Test and thus topped Punjab. An alumnus of MGN Public School in Jalandhar, he was third in the medical stream in the district in Class 12. An aspiring eye surgeon from a family of doctors, Lovedeep also likes to do magic tricks and slove puzzles
7 Dr RAVJOT GREWAL 27, Patiala, PCS exam
topper: A qualified dentist Dr Ravjot Grewal has now entered the civil services in style - securing the first rank in the Punjab Civil Services (PCS) examination. Daughter of colonel father and a teacher mother, she finished first in her second attempt, after getting a respectable 47th position in her first attempt. She is posted as assistant commissioner, grievances, at Fatehgarh Sahib.
8 SAJID ALI DHAR 29, Sringar, fashion
designer: Sajid had to fight the parochial understanding of fashion back home. Hailing from a family that has shawl businesses, he did his bachelors in fashion and business studies, and followed it up masters in international management from Kingston University, London This March, he established himslef when he showcased his line of clothing during the Lakme Fashion Week in Delhi, making him the first Kashmiri to do so. 9 SAHIL VEDOLIYAA 27 Moga, ancher-actor: Sahil’s foray on the stage started with mimicry in college. Wanting to be independent and earn a living on his own, he decided to give anchoring a shot. With a friend who was already an established name in the profession, Sahil decided to follow her encouraging words and got his big break hosting live music show. He has also appeared in Punjabi films. 10 TANYA ABROL 28, Abohar, actor: She had burst into the limelight with 'Chalk De India’ in 2007. Tanya has appeared in several TV shows since; hosted awards ceremony for Star Plus, and worked in theatre. She has most recently appeared in Punjab Movie 'Love you Soniye’ and is currently working on a Bollywood film besides continuing with theatre. A sportsperson from the beginning, she is the daughter of a farmer father, while her mother runs a beauty parlour in Abohar in Fazilka district.
11 FEROZ SINGH GARE 17, Chandigarh,
golfer: The teenaged golf champion is all geared up for a host of international tournaments that will keep him busy for the next couple of months. The most prominent of these will be the Asian Games to be will be held in Incheonm South Korea, from September 19 to October 4. Prior to the Asian Games, Garewal will compete in three back-to-back international tournaments, starting with Asian Junior Team Championship to be held in Gunsan, South Korea. In 2013, Garewal was part of Indian team and attained fifth position in the Asian Junior Golf Championship in South Korea.
12 MALAIKA GOEL 16, Ludhina, shooter: Malaika got into the limelight with a silver in 10m air pistol event during the recently-held Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Such has been her endeavour to achieve excellence that she has taken a break from regular schooling to concentrate on shooting. Home-schooled freed her for putting in necessary long hours at the shooting range which is at Narangwal, near Ludhiana. Her father is a Punjab police officer. Malaika reaches the range at 6am for her three-hour practice session and then in the evening she heads back to the range for another round.
13 VIKAS THAKUR 20, Hamirpur/Ludhiana,
weightlifter: Vikas bagged silver medal in the 85kg category of weightlifting at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The lifter is a junior warrant officer in the Indian Air Force. He and his family live in Ludhiana in Punjab but hail from Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh. Son of railway man Brij Lal Thakur, Vikas got into weightlifting at the age of nine. He says the proudest moment for him so far has been when he returned from Glasgow and his mother walked to him and hugged him as tears rolled down her cheeks.
14 VINESH PHOGAT 20, Bhiwani, wrestler: Along with her cousins Geeta and Babita Phogat, she managed to break the glass ceiling for women in a conservative state like Haryana. Her gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 48kg category has cemented her reputation as the future of woman wrestling in the country. She hails from Balali in Bhiwani, Haryana, and is coached by Geeta’s father Mahavir Singh, a former wrestler. She is currently preparing for the World Championship and Asian Games.
15 JAGWINDER SINGH 23, Patran, Patiala,
para-cyclist, painter: For Jagwinder, being physically challenged is certainly not an insurmountable hurdle. So much so, that it has not stopped him from becoming a competitive 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.
16 SARGUN MEHTA 25, Chandigarh, actor: Sargun is known a model, comedian, dancer, presenter and television actor. Her best known shows are ‘Apno Ke Liye Geeta Ka Dharmayudh’, ‘Phulwa’ and ‘12/24 Karol Bagh’. Currently, she is playing the role of Ganga in ‘Balika Vadhu’. Born in City Beautiful, she is the daughter of businessman and wanted to be a biz honcho herself. But acting happened after she got into dance and joined a college in Delhi. She is married to fellow actor Ravi Dubey. She remains modest in her goals. Her popularity, however, is rising by the day.
17 SANDEEP KAUR 24, Matoi, Sangrur: “If you want to understand the curse and pain of poverty and being a Dalit, you have to spend years with us,” says Sandeep Kaur, sitting with 10 other young women who are part of the Ekta Club, formed by Sandeep in 2012 after the Delhi gangrape-murder. The club is working to bring together all 70 families of her community to fight discrimination that their forefathers suffered, and also to force the government to provide reserved panchayat land to Dalit families.
18 RANI RAMPAL 19, Shahbad Markanda,
Kurukshetra; hockey player: Daughter of a cart-puller, Rani Rampal’s hard work paid off, as at the age of 15 she became the youngest player in the national team in the 2010 World Cup. As Rani’s talent became evident, she went from success to success, and supported her family with the cash awards too. As a forward, she has 116 caps till now and 64 international goals.
19a ARPINDER SINGH 21, Amritsar, athlete: The triple jumper currently holds the national record (17.17m) that he set in Lucknow. He was in the news after his coach Sukhdev Singh Pannu was not allowed to accompany him to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where he won bronze. He had started out as a long jumper before shifting to triple jump.
19b NAVJEET KAUR DHILLON 19, Amritsar,
athlete: Discus thrower Navjeet became the country’s second-ever athlete to win a medal in the junior world championship. She won bronze at the IAAF Junior World Championship held in
20 KETAN KALRA 24, Chandigarh,
entrepreneur: Ketan started his business, of a donut shop (‘Super Donuts’), while pursuing his graduation in economics from Panjab University. Rather than going for a franchise of an alreadyestablished donut brand, he decided to create his own brand from scratch. He got the money for his first outlet from his father. Flagship in Sector 8, he has an outlet in Sector 35 too.
21 SHUBHREET KAUR GHUMAN 28, Sangrur,
dancer, make-up artist: On October 21, 2009, Shubhreet met with an accident and fractured her leg. A botched operation resulted in her losing her left leg and eventually getting a prosthetic limb six months later. As she was fond of dancing since her childhood, her mom did her best in motivating her. She was back on the dance floor in less than a year. Shubhreet became a celebrity and an inspiration for millions when she appeared on TV reality show ‘India’s Got Talent’. She says she feels blessed to have a brother and a sister as her best friends though she lost her father at the tender age of 13 She
and is also a make-up artist. Not one to pretend life is easy, through the love of her family and faith in God she has overcome adversities that include a marital break-up that played out as headlines recently. But she says that’s over, and her life is now filled with joy and purpose.
22 SHALINI AGNIHOTRI 25, Una, best IPS
trainee for the year: Daughter of a bus conductor, Shalini, hailing from Amb area of Una district in Himachal, cleared the civil services exam against all odds. She went into the Indian Police Service (IPS), and was adjudged the best all-round trainee of the 65th batch of IPS. She had secured 285th rank in the exam in 2011, and emerged on top of the batch of 148 at the end of their 46-week police training at the National Police Academy at Hyderabad. She won the Prime Minister’s Baton and the Home Ministry’s Revolver for being the best trainee. Shalini, who is currently posted at Shimla, has a BSc in agriculture. She also qualified the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Junior Research Fellowship exam during post graduation at
23 filmmaker: SIDDHARTH CHAUHAN 23, Rohru, Shimla,
An MBA from Himachal Pradesh University, Chauhan made a short film, ‘Boys Don’t Wear Nail Polish’, that won the Golden Halo Award at the International Film Festival in Kerala. The film is about a mother’s battle against gender stereotyping, and has been screened at Delhi International Film Festival 2013, Phoenix Film Festival, Kolkata, and International Documentary and Short Film Festival, VIBGYOR 2014. With no formal training, Chauhan has made five short films till date. At the age of 19, he made his first experimental film, ‘Zunei’, about regressive hypnosis, using his sister’s camera. He participated in Indian Film Festival 2011 in Shimla with ‘Dreams’ that featured local talent. He also served as festival director for the International Youth Film Festival 2013 held in Shimla. Now, he is assisting in Bollywood movies and also plans to continue making independent films.
MANOJ KUMAR 27, Kaithal, boxer:
Delhi 24a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, A 2010 he belongs in the light to Kaithal welterweight district class. of Haryana His father and competes is retired armyman wars. Manoj who gives served credit during of his the success 1965 and to his 1971 own dedication his elder brother and the Rajesh inspiration Kumar. that Rajesh he draws is a former from boxer and used to train young boxers in Kaithal. It was there that Manoj first learned the game. He has two bronze medals from Asian Championships held in 2007 and 2013. He also has a bronze medal from the Czech Grand Prix.
24b JAI BHAGWAN 29, Hisar, boxer: Jai Bhagwan, who got the job of a police inspector due to his sporting achievements, is currently posted as a station house officer (SHO) at Faridabad. The 2010 CWG bronze medallist and London Olympian boxer has been given the Arjuna Award for 2014. In 2011, he was part of a reality game show ‘Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout’ hosted by Shahrukh Khan. At the London Games, Jai Bhagwan’s best finish was pre-quarterfinals where he lost to Kazakh fighter Gani Zhailauov. He is a two-time medallist in the Asian Championships.
24c MANDEEP JANGRA 21, Kharian, Hisar;
boxer: He goes by the nickname ‘Kartoos’ (Bullet). Mentored by veteran boxer Akhil Kumar, Mandeep hails from Kharian in Hisar district of Haryana. He has a silver medal each from the 2013 Asian Championships and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was hard work and dedication of the boxer that forced Akhil to start his tutelage. Mandeep likes to watch movies and listen to “fast tracks” in both Hindi and English.
25 KULVINDER KAUR SIDHU 29, Bathinda,
actor-anchor: ‘Kul’ has graduated from a folk dancer in school to a prominent face in the indie and art movie scene besides working in Pollywood projects. Her debut was in 2011 in the national award-winning ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’. She also starred in the short movie ‘Nooran’ (2014) that was presented at the Cannes Film festival. Other movies she’s worked in include ‘Yaaran Naal Baharan-2’, ‘Ajj de Ranjhe’ and ‘Sutta Naag’.
26 HARGUN KAUR 18, Amritsar, singer: This 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 a TV channel.
27 ANJUM BATRA 29, Abohar, actor: With a childhood passion for singing and acting, Anjum dedicated eight years of his education to theatre and bhangra. He had moved to Chandigarh and started learning music professionally and then joined the department of Indian theatre at Punjab University. While rehearsing for a play, a casting director noticed him and called him to audition for a character named Sunil in ‘Dev D’. That proved to be the turning point. He has since appeared in several films and ads, including the Bollywood comedy ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’.
28 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 a loan, she won the state’s Best Entrepreneur award last year and is the female face of the Kani shawl trade. Daughter of a labourer, she now has annual turnover of ` 80 lakh.
29 SANGRAM SINGH 29, Madina, Rohtak; actor: 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, he has worked in many reality shows and serials on TV. Now he is shooting for a movie.
30 HEENA SIDHU 25, Patiala, shooter: She became India’s first woman pistol shooter to rank world number one. After her spectacular performances in the world cup this year she was ranked world number one in 10m air pistol. A graduate in dentistry, Heena took to shooting only to get admission in a dental college under sports quota. But she got the seat on merit and a pastime became her passion.