As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a space scientist. An astrophysicist to be precise.
My immediate and extended world knew of my dreams. That of doing my PhD from the US and working at NASA.
And in 2002 I left for the US. To pursue my PhD. From Michigan State University – whose program was a top one in the country. They had a cyclotron (a real one, yes!) and we’re to commission a radio telescope later that year. I was given a 100% tuition fee waiver and an extremely generous stipend to cover my expenses.
A year into the program I was on top of my class. Was working with one of the smartest and driven professors in the team. My peers were fun, intelligent, accommodating.
Life was good.
Just that, it wasn’t.
I was good at what I was doing. But I wasn’t happy.
I figured that a PhD in astrophysics would mean staying in the US for the rest of my life.
Coming back to India would not be an option.
Because India would never have meaningful work for an ambitious, hardworking, diligent Ankur Warikoo.
Back in 2003, I predicted that for the REST OF MY LIFE, India would not have anything meaningful for me.
And I came back (undoubtedly the best decision of my life – but that’s another story)
In the past few years, I have been (secretly) tracking the work that ISRO is doing.
Last week they sent 104 mini satellites into orbit in a single launch – a world record.
Two years back they accomplished the Mangalyaan.
And I love how each time they do awesome work, and I read about it in the press, all I can see is this
Don’t ever say that the world is not ready for what you wish to do.
That the world needs to change
Because The one that needs to change is the man in the mirror.
Thank you ISRO for showing me how wrong I was, through the best manner possible – your success.
Note to self: The world doesn’t need our stamp of approval. It needs our participation.