A Biscoe boy has achieved a unique feat of becoming the first Kashmiri to qualify for the associate membership of Aeronautical Society of India. BILAL HANDOO digs into his life to find out what it takes to achieve such a distinction.
With a desire to do something different in a parochial society where most students opt either for medicine or engineering, Mohammad Afeef Badri has become the first Kashmiri to qualify for the associate membership of Aeronautical Society of India. Among other luminaries, former president of India, A P J Abul Kalam is one of the former members of the society.
Afeef, a Biscoe boy and a resident of Nowgam, Srinagar, says he achieved this feat due to his dedication and commitment towards his studies at a time when his friends gave up the chase. Afeef’s percentage in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at senior secondary level, which are prerequisite for pursuing the course, was more than seventy per cent. He registered for the course at the office of Aeronautical Society in New Delhi in 2008 after an extensive research about the subject.
The course is currently taught at aeronautical institutes in Dehradun, New Delhi, Kanpur, Bengaluru, Chennai, etc. Afeef maintains that coaching centers for preparing for the course are available in Chennai and Bengaluru which makes them the most suitable places to study. For the first six months, he studied in Dehradun and subsequently moved to Bengaluru and then Kanpur.
“Within six months, I realized that I was pursuing one of the toughest courses. But I stood my ground. When my other friends joined conventional engineering courses, I decided to take a lesser trodden path. Today, I am better off than them,” Afeef says in an enthusiastic tone. Two of his fellow Kashmiris left studies midway along with many students from all over India and outside, owing to the challenges posed by the course.
With over four years of study period and twenty different subjects, the course tests the nerves of its aspirants. Afeef says his batch strength was 80 initially, which whittled down to merely 11 at the end of the course. “It is a purely laborious effort which most aspirants don’t withstand. No shortcuts work here,” says Afeef.
Afeef believes the students of Kashmir valley should aspire to pursue a course in aeronautical engineering because of its scope, “Let me tell you this. Kashmiri students have the mettle to stand the academic challenges. But unfortunately, we don’t have exposure to the variety of courses available for higher studies which becomes a big impediment in our academic growth.” He further says that the quality of education needs to improve in the valley to groom young and inquisitive minds.
What stands him apart from his contemporaries is a mind eager to taste success. While his seniors are still whacking their brains to qualify this course, this boy in his early twenties qualified with flying colors. He did fail as well, but that never stopped him from chasing his dream. “This course tested my patience and resolve but I can proudly claim that I defeated all the hurdles which came in my way,” says Afeef.
On a daily basis, Afeef says he used to devote eight to ten hours to study which he feels is essential to qualify this course. The pattern of examination changes every year which makes it even tougher for the students who are not aware what they are up against. “This isn’t a cakewalk exam to qualify. It demands a lot of smart labor. My younger brother, who is pursuing MBA, expressed his desire to join this course but I categorically told him that he has to prepare himself to work extensively hard. Anybody with average intelligence and a spirit to work hard can easily crack the exams,” he says.
Now a chartered aeronautical engineer, Afeef is going to Bengaluru where he is likely to join as a junior scientist. He wants to rub shoulders with the best minds in aeronautical engineering. “I want to set an example that Kashmiris can prove themselves in any field through their determination and hard work. It is the high time that the youth of Kashmir think out of the box and shun their obsession with medical sciences and other traditional courses,” he says.
Afeef believes that proper counseling at school levels needs to be introduced to draw the students’ attention towards such opportunities once they finish their studies at higher secondary level. “Given the talent pool we have in Kashmir, there should be more than 50 students in this course rather than one. We have fertile brains,” he says.