Ahmad Hakimi: Proliferating Enigma Overseas
A man who packs in modesty and a scholarly look at life, Ahmad Hakimi, a final year undergraduate student pursuing Civil Engineering is a rare gem of an intellectual who was groomed to lead and serve selflessly. With his strong work ethics and brilliant interpersonal skills, he has been a true merited representative of his country and has been a successful ambassador in the amalgamation of his culture with globalisation. His skills, parallel to none, helped strengthen his knowledge of India and aided in the cultural exchange of ideologies and beliefs between various countries. Team MM caught up with him for a rendezvous to gain more insight into his life.
LIFE BEFORE NITR:
I was born in a well-educated family in the capital city of Kabul. I can say that I was inclined towards talking to different people, getting to know about them and learning from them from a young age. It has been my belief since a young age that all of us in the world have a social responsibility and a purpose. God has written a path for every one of us. Hence, our responsibility is to discover that path. So, serving society and country has been my integral value from childhood. Reading books was my escape from this world. I was interested in reading books about History, Politics, great personalities and other social topics. Apart from these, Chess and Snooker are my favourite pass times.
HURDLES IN ADAPTING:
“Even if we visit a new city or town, it feels very new and uncomfortable. So, when I shifted from one country to another, it was indeed a big cultural shock. New perspectives, new cultures and new people; I took some time to adjust to all these changes, but it did take time. Every human adapts to his surroundings, so it was natural for me to adjust to NITR. The main problems I faced were with the food and the accent of English spoken here. The food here is spicier than the food back home. So, it was tough getting used to it initially, but day by day, it got better. Back in Afghanistan, my encounter with English was always in the American accent. Also, English was not our primary language of teaching. So, I found it difficult to adapt to the Indian accent. But with time, things got better.
“One thing that helped me cope up with the changes in my life was friends. I have a habit of talking to as many people as I can. I believe that every person is like a book and has good and bad chapters. Talking to friends made me feel at home and comforted me in times when I felt low.
Coming to academics, the difference in syllabi was significant and took some time to get used to. At times, the professors used to skip some topics as the students had already learnt it in previous classes, but as foreigners, it was a totally new topic.
“So, I used to take the help of my Indian friends. I personally felt that the Academics is not tough, but the side pressures like Hostel, friends, Health, etc make it a difficult affair. All these small stresses combine and make it a big headache, so we are not able to concentrate.”
STORY BEHIND NITR:
“Just like how India has the JEE, we have our own Entrance exam which is also of 360 marks. But each city has its own cut-off. If the student scores above the cut-off, he/she will be nominated for scholarships in India, Turkey, Russia, etc. Most students chose India because of English as the medium of teaching. The best choices in India were IITs and NITs for engineering. IITs are very famous back home. We ourselves knew little about NITs, as it is thought that NITs are common colleges in India. But, after we joined, we realized how prestigious it was and started to spread awareness back in Afghanistan.”
LIFE IN NITR:
“I consider myself a very planned person and I write all my plans in my diary that I take around everywhere. After my first year, I started to think about how to balance all my goals, which are Academics, Interacting with people, cultural mixing, etc. So, I discovered that joining other activities was the right option. So, I joined Clarion and CEST with this in mind. Since my third semester, everything was going on smoothly; academics, cultural exchange; extracurricular activities were all on a good note. NITR has become synonymous to home and the moment I enter the institute from outside, a sense of gratitude and comfort engulfs me. This place has taught me innumerable things, from accepting the challenges in life to finding multiple ways to solve them. This place will always have a special place in my heart forever as it helped me become a real man.”
“Before joining NITR, I studied at Kabul University for a semester, then got admitted to NITR via scholarship. So, I am in touch with my friends back there and other friends from across the world like the US, Germany, Turkey, etc. This network of my friends who also pursue civil engineering helped me increase my knowledge in various sub-domains of this subject. This network also consisted of professors from Universities in Afghanistan. I started to develop a keen interest in research. Although I didn’t do groundbreaking research in my second year, this interest kept me going. I wanted to tackle real-life problems solving problems faced in Afghanistan. Their insights were vital in my research. Also, the research I did was in collaboration with all these people. They would collect the data and I would analyse it and write the papers. This collective effort is what made it possible to conduct the research. This research was in collaboration with Kabul Water Board. In the future, even if I may pursue my career in other fields, I will always try to be involved with this research area. I definitely have to wholeheartedly thank all the professors belonging to the civil engineering department of NITR and Kabul University and also my friends.”
On asking how and why he chose civil engineering, this is what he had to say:
Back in Afghanistan, Civil engineering is the most sought after course as there is a lot of scope for infrastructure development, unlike the booming software industry in India. Also, it is the course with the highest cut-off, so it was natural for me to take it. In Afghanistan, all industries like IT, Civil engineering, electrical engineering grow parallelly unlike India. Also, civil is the highest paid job back home. This department grew on me and I feel that I have become synonymous to “I Love Civil” as I put it up in my status a lot. But, my priority will always be social service and steps towards becoming a social activist.
INTERVIEWS AND CONFERENCES
“I have been invited to Interviews in Afghanistan regarding the Indian Educational System, specifically IITs and NITs. This was on Rah-e-Farda TVon the Sobh Farda program. Another interview was about the challenges faces by the Afghan students in India on Yak TV. Apart from these, I have also been invited to cultural exchange conferences. They are namely, Turkamaan Youth organization Conference on Indian Educational culture and behaviour with foreigners, New Generation organization Conference on “My experience in India considering all aspects”, WOSY (world organization of students and youths) in SOA university BBSR in presence of Odisha governor Ganeshi Lal which had Participants from 57 countries. This was on women shipping in the 21st century.
I was also invited by Afghan members of parliament and senators for discussion on various important topics such as the importance of Scholarship and Afghan student challenges in NITs, the increasing reservation of NITs, IITs and NLUs for Afghan ICCR scholars. placement and Scholarship for Afghan NITian, the importance of ICCR scholarship and how it affects future diplomatic relation between countries.
In all these interviews and conferences, I have always highlighted the importance of studying in a new place. The subject which I am studying now may be taught better in the University of Kabul, but it is not just about the academics and subject that matters. In India, I am involved with so many new people with new perspectives. I am exposed to a new world, which is vital in today’s globalised world. I always learn how other people think, work and live. Meeting parliament members aimed at primarily discuss foreign diplomatic relations between India and Afghanistan in the future. I’d like to thank all the countries who provide scholarship and help form diplomatic relations. There are a lot of colleges other than IIT, NIT, NLU which accept students from foreign lands which are not that good and they don’t provide many opportunities. We discussed how we should focus more on premier National colleges.
Speaking about how clubs have significantly shaped his life in NIT Rourkela,
In Afghanistan, the overall general knowledge is high as we had 18 subjects/year which ensures a pretty reasonable depth of knowledge in our minds and we used to read a lot of literature on History and Political Science. When I came here and interacted with people, I was disappointed to see the low sense of awareness amongst the general crowd but when I entered Clarion, I saw the future leader here. No one is a born politician or born Prime Minister. You have to inculcate good abilities and make yourself capable enough for the responsibility. I could see a clear-cut future vision of the youth through Clarion. Every country should have an uplifting culture which aids and gives direction for the young generation it is our responsibility to crack through the mundane and age-old policies and work hard. CEST is the club established for my department. Through this medium, I went for a lot of competitions and it helped me develop management skills. Going with friends in Indian trains was a different enriching experience, altogether. I had never travelled in trains with friends and never met so many students from other colleges. Moreover, through this club, I interacted with many juniors during interviews and inductions. I was very happy with how things were organised in the club while conducting NU and event workshops. Learning the art of interaction, Leading and managing people to show them the path and making an event successful is something I would take back from this club. Not only did it help in the managerial aspect but also helped strengthen my core knowledge in my branch. My main belief and principle in life are that people management is the most difficult type of management. There exists a certain type of dynamic diversity in it which is unfound anywhere else. Everyone is different and you’ve to manage everything with efficiency as an individual can change from time to time.
For someone who was very dedicated to his department, the shift to politics seemed a little surprising. Talking more about why it is required, he said
As an engineer who is just ordinary and normal, I can’t bring change and do anything vast to my environment. I’m not the mastermind and a great mind if I’m a simplistic engineer. A normal engineer or professor can’t bring much change or serve many purposes. The youth has an important contribution to the political scenario as they rise from the heart of the society can feel people’s pain can feel the economic challenges they face because they’re intimated with their issues.
I dislike the misconception that politics is just ‘guns and roses’, there’s so much at stake and a lot of sacrifice behind the scenes for a politician. Their family remains surrounded by body-guards wherever they go, they lose their personal life. For a politician, his family comes second to the country. It requires hard work, talent and diplomacy to be one and I’d like to be one and serve a purpose.
When asked about the current political scenario in Afghanistan, Ahmad shared insight into the plethora of chances the world has to offer for the younger ‘woke’ masses.
Priority is given to the young generation and for educated masses. Most of the parliament members used to be illiterate but we broke the tradition. Nowadays, everyone is equal and priority is given to the learned. Nepotism does not prevail there anymore and it’s not like only people belonging to political back-grounds will get a chance. Our President and Deputy President and 2nd Deputy President are brilliant academicians and genius minds. All these educated people came together to influence people and make policies for the betterment of people.
A student from NIT Bhopal has made it as a minister in the government. This is a very positive change and shows great promise for the educated masses of the youth in our Political scenario. A peace argument is going on between US and Afghan, which will impact Central Asia so it is going very well for us. Job opportunities are growing for the youth in the form of offering employment in the Presidential Palace to Full Bright scholarships from European and American Universities. This just goes to show the main priority is on education and talent, not any other factor. No discrimination should be there against any section of the society or Women or anybody.
Comparing it to the political scenario here, he said that
In both the places, the members of the parties are uneducated but influential. However, both the countries are moving forward. There are increasing chances for seats and posts for women in both countries. However, In India, politics mostly goes for majoritarian views and caste, community and religion plays a vast role in the deciding factor of politics. The minorities get side-lined and there’s no representation for them.
He talked about the forging of a stronger bond between the countries by strengthening the existing diplomat relations.
We have a very good relation with India due to our mutual trust and our old history and bond but mostly because we share a common enemy. *laughs* However, I’d like to speak a word about Pakistan. It doesn’t make sense to blame Pakistanis as they’re just regular people and they might be good, for all you know. It’s the policies that are bad and the commoners of Pakistan are not to be held accountable for it.
I chose my specialisation for Masters in ‘Environmental Engineering’ at the University of Hamburg as it is a very relevant subject in today’s day and age where climate change has become a rising concern. It was a scholarship through United Nations and I got selected on the basis of a video featuring my friends, professors, M.Tech and PhD students where they spoke about how I coped up with a new culture while representing my own. I’m obliged to everyone who contributed. Through my video, I wanted to showcase diversity by showing people from different countries and walks of life. The message sent across by the video was a strong one, ‘Divided by countries, united by friendship’. The people reviewing my profile laid more focus on my achievements rather than academics. My approach was very good towards my college life as I never restricted myself to just studies and branched out in various directions. In life and interviews, a high CGPA won’t help you as much as social interaction and interpersonal skills.
There is no course-work for politics and you can’t pursue a degree in it. It’s not a specific profession and mainly involves establishing a good relationship between people for the smooth running of work. Although I’m going to pursue my degree in Masters in Germany, I’ve simultaneously involved with people and conduct seminars and TV interviews to start an initial movement for youth. My main aim is to serve people and not run for fame or money. I’ll be satisfied with being a social-activist for bring about some change. I don’t desire to be a monarch or a ruler but wish to work in a democratic environment for the people.
My first and foremost advice will be to urge the readers to have a social life, apart from academics. My second message will be to take up responsibility for your society as everyone is responsible for their surroundings, whether they like it or not. The next advice will be to not be afraid of big dreams. As you aim higher, your achievements will be better too. My last advice will be to not follow the herd and to stand out with an aim and purpose. We should clear our target and interest. Don’t just join CSE because it has a good salary. Go for what you like and achieve it. It is very rewarding.
Ahmad Hakimi concludes by saying that he owes it to NITR helping him find his path and clarity to pursue it.
One of our former Presidents graduated from India and you never know, you might have a post-holder for the nation in future from NIT Rourkela. I hope to become one so that I serve the nation without any greed for money and fame.
Team MM wishes all the best to Ahmad Hakimi for the pandora box of surprises that life may have in store for him.