“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to a captive of
the environment in which you first find yourself.”
– Mark Caine
It was a cold morning at Air Force Station, Udhampur. As a helper to a vehicle mechanic, he was washing a truck in the Mechanical Transport yard. Lying under the truck, when he was dismantling the gear box, dirt and crow shit fell on his face. He had to wipe his face with his hands smeared in grease. Neither the cold could dampen his spirits, nor could the rigors of a soldier’s life tire him out, because there was a burning desire which was kindling in his heart. It was his passion and dream to become an engineer.
It is my privilege to present before you Engineer ,Dr Ravi Dwivedi,Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the prestigious Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology,Bhopal.His involvement with the students can be gauged from the fact that when I was interviewing him, more than a dozen students kept coming to him for guidance. He was talking patiently to each one and satisfying them.
Ravi was born in a lower middle class family in Auraiya near Eatawah (UP).His father was a clerk in the Railways and his mother a teacher. He remembers himself as a brilliant student till class IV, but deteriorated by the time he reached class X, which he passed in second division. He joined Polytechnic from where he earned a diploma in Automobile Engineering in 1975.The poor financial condition of his family coupled with his father’s illness constrained Ravi to take up the job of an Airman in the Indian Air force in 1978. He was posted as a MT Technician helper.
When he came home after completing his training in Chennai, his mother told him with a repentant heart, “I could not make you an engineer”. These words pierced his heart and created a burning desire to become an engineer one day. It was a turning point of his life.
During his posting at Udhampur, he joined AMIE to pursue engineering, but could not complete it.”After an abortive attempt to do AMIE, I did graduation in Arts to enhance my qualification” he adds. Destiny brought him to Chennai once again, for his conversion training and up gradation to Mechanic. His interest in theatre coupled with handsome looks landed him in a leading role in a Hindi play. His partner on the stage was none other than the pretty daughter of his Commanding Officer ,Wing Commander Pandey. Ravi’s performance in the play not only won him accolades, but also brought him close to the CO’s daughter. It was not long enough before the CO offered his daughter’s hand to him.”I pleaded that I could not accept the offer, because of the glaring gap between the statuses of the two families. Moreover I did not want to sell myself” said an upright Ravi. The CO went a step further to assure him guidance and help to become a commissioned officer. A self respecting Ravi politely declined the offer, and instead preferred to become an engineer on his own merit, and then he would revert back. To facilitate him to complete his BE, Ravi requested his CO to get him posted to Gwalior, from where he could BE from MITS as a part time student.”I told the girl to wait for me, if possible” said an emotional Ravi. However he feels guilty for not being to meet either the girl or her father, in spite of his best efforts.
Having landed in Gwalior destiny played hide and seek. Even after qualifying the admission test to BE at MITS,he was purportedly denied admission on flimsy grounds. In fact a middle man demanded Rs 5000 for admission which he refused. He cried on seeing his selection letter being torn in front on his eyes. Ironically now MITS invites him for delivering lectures and as an external examiner for conducting exams of B.Tech and M.Tech. To keep his balance Ravi diverted towards the world of theatre and All India Radio, where he became a grade B artist. He also qualified as an ‘Ayurvedacharya.’
Continuing his service in the Air Force Ravi got timely promotions and became a sergeant in 1990.Having completed the bond of fifteen years service, he decided to quit. Although his decision to quit did not find support among his family members, the burning desire to do BE prevailed upon everyone.
Thereafter Ravi was selected as a tractor engineer in Hari Nagar Sugar mills and posted at West Champaran, Bihar. Although the job was very demanding but the perks were luxurious.”My wife was thrilled to get a lavish house, cook, vehicle, and servant” recalled Ravi. During his fifteen months dedicated service, the Sugar Mill multiplied its profits.
In 1994 another opportunity knocked at his door. One post of Assistant Workshop Superintendent was advertised at MANIT Bhopal.”I felt as if this post in my dream College was meant for me. Being a diploma holder, I applied and got selected out of 56 candidates most of whom were BE” said a confident Ravi. Later he learnt that the post had been created to accommodate a contractual employee who had been working for eight years. The job would have slipped out of Ravi’s hands, had it not been for the insistence of the Chairman of the selection Committee .A via media was found by increasing the number of posts from one to two. The decision to quit the prized job at Hari Nagar Sugar Mills was not easy but his passion to become a qualified engineer provided the much needed push.
The opportunity of a lifetime appeared in 1995, when the evening course of BE at Samrat Ashok Technological Institute (SATI) Vidisha was restarted.”I felt it was God sent for me” said Ravi. During these five years his routine stretched him almost to the breaking point. After his duty hours at MANIT from 9.00 am to 5 pm he would rush to catch the train to Vidisha, and attend the classes from 7 pm to 10 pm. On the way back he would board Jhelum express, which was invariably late. He can’t forget the days when he used to reach Bhopal station around 3 or 4 am, have a short nap at home and again rush to office in the morning. Needless to say he had to squeeze in time for studies also. It was his grit and dogged determination that made him a topper in BE (Hons). A grateful Ravi placed his BE degree at his mother’s feet in reverence.
Thereafter he took two years study leave and did M.Tech with distinction, as a topper in 2003.Armed with the requisite qualifications and thorough knowledge, he was selected as a Lecturer, senior Lecturer and made his way up to Associate Professor. The dream of wearing ranks on the shoulders was realized when he got commission in NCC and is presently holding the rank of a Captain. In the meantime he continued his academic pursuits and earned a PhD in 2012.It is noteworthy that although there is no provision of awarding distinction, one of the valuers of his thesis recommended that he should be given distinction.
Not prepared to rest on his laurels Dr Ravi is planning his post doctoral research and he is writing a text book for engineering students. He is also guiding students for M.Tech and PhD. Interestingly he is also working on a path breaking research on jaw deformation to make customized knee replacement. His ambitions still soar high as he says “Zameen to choo li hai,aasma choona baki hai” meaning, the earth has been touched, the sky is yet to be touched. May God keep the fire in him alive, so that he realizes his dream!
(The above success story is based on the interview of Dr Ravi Dwivedi with Maj Pradeep Khare)