Agnishwar J (27), social entrepreneur
I am someone who is always interested in science. In 2007, we received a visit from the then President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. He saw my project and was very interested in it. Later, he decided to take me under his wing and offered to be my mentor. At that time, since he was still the President of the country, he was not easily accessible. However, we would talk, every four months or so, and he would guide me. He always believed that India would be a superpower if they tapped their most important resource – the younger generation. In 2014, I started the Agni Foundation to realise this dream of our late ex-President. Through Ignite India, we work with 40,000 schools in the State and nearly one crore children. We encourage them to think of their own companies and act as entrepreneurs. We offer them a supportive educational system to give them the right skills they need to grow. For my work, I was invited by the United Nations and won the Youth Delegate Award. I was the only Indian to have won the award. I stood on a stage which was shared by global world leaders. I had the opportunity to speak to a room full of young entrepreneurs. Our education system is flawed. It is still something feudal and set in the past. When the world is developing so quickly every day, why should our education still be in the past? I cannot hope of changing the educational system unless I get a prominent position in the Education Department. But I can, in my own way, do my bit.