A Letter To My Role Models

by | May 6, 2019

Inspiration can come in many forms – from art, books, music, organizations, children, adults and more. I got inspired by quite a few people lately and will write about them here, as they are the examples of the person that I am today. Oxford dictionary defines a role model as “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated”. Let me slightly redefine that. To me, they are the ones who helped me in mental growth and made me realize my own inner potential of gaining knowledge.

Suchitra Ma’am

During the time in pre-master’s thesis of Social Design, we were given the choice to nominate at least three mentors out of the six faculty members. I dared not to even mention Suchitra Ma’am because I wasn’t confident that I could work flexibly with her (mostly because I was scared of her). After a couple of weeks, I received an e-mail that she is my assigned mentor, and I was encouraged to let her know if I wasn’t keen on having her as a mentor. But who knew that this decision was one of the best things that happened? If it wasn’t for her, it would have taken a lot longer for me to come out of my shallow thoughts about the politics of ‘Identity’ and reflect on my own self. Alongside academics, she was also my mental support and now a lifelong mentor that I look up to. Her enthusiasm prompted me to work harder alongside her because, at the end of the day, it was my project that she was sweating on.

She is the Dean of School of Design, Ambedkar University and I bet the students under her supervision would take away something meaningful. I always like to update her about my learning and achievements, small or big, just to let her know that her teaching does reflect in the way I work now. Probably that’s the only way in which I can repay her.


He is someone you can’t not admire, once you get to know him. He used to often take me through his favorite books, philosophies, and films. He says that if a person has a habit of reading and playing a musical instrument, then there is no room for discontentment. It took me some time to realize and step into the path he left me with. On his journey from a sociologist to a creative writer to now a performance artist, he has been extremely perseverant on constantly refining himself and doesn’t let anything distract him on his path. This attitude of him is what I take back from our friendship.


She is the kind of person one feels blessed to be with. Being from the second batch of M.Des (Social Design) which is a unique course in India, many of us face an identity crisis. She was equally confused with the outcome of the course, but unlike me, she had faith and insisted me on continuing with it. Without her, it would have perhaps taken me another few years to change the outlook of the world that Social Design has exposed me to and the way I look at it now. She never ever gives up on having faith in bringing about positive change in her own capabilities and doing justice with it. She can go to any extent to validate her decision and has recently started “Northeast Waste Collective”, a non-profit organization towards managing the electronic waste and bringing electricity in the remote villages of Northeast India.


A person who is constantly looking inward to reflect. His breathing sources are Films and photography where he looks at his growth through the people he meets. I would often complain about him for being too patient, and at the same time, he’s someone I really admire. It is through patience that he understands people, the society, systems and/or nature so well. He constantly questions his existence, loves people compassionately and practices self-love. Appreciating the beauty in every small detail, that most people would see as imperfections, and spending leisure time with him has always been enriching.


A woman who is on a mission of building an army of conscious and empathetic leaders in India. Her armies are equipped with humility, perseverance, empathy, and knowledge. She started to lead the social change at the age of twenty five, eventually co-founding the India Fellowship program and giving more structure to it. She will never let go of seeking what she needs/wants to know and has an aura of passing this energy on to anyone around her. Sometimes, when I tend to come to a conclusion impulsively or ignore to reason out my actions, she helps me reflect inward and question my behavior. Unlike many who consider ‘work’ as ‘work’, she has beautifully embraced it as a natural state of mind and enjoys it. She brings profound meaning to her life by weaving meaning in other people’s lives.


A woman of perseverance, who has been working hard since 2010 to reform the education system in India. While most didn’t understand or even had faith when she began, she always stood strong with her conviction and settled in rural Maharashtra to start her vision. With the belief that quality education should be accessible to all the individuals irrespective of economic or any other social differences, she started her organization Tamarind Tree. In order to deliver quality education, she has been working hard to catch up with the current generation with Digital Technology, the future of the education world. Working with her gives me confidence that I can shape myself however I want if I have my conviction clear. She provided me a new outlook towards digitization. As technology has always evolved with humans, but its knowledge is somehow restricted to only a few, she has opened doors for others to understand, produce and contribute resources for the Netizens. I am now more confident in being a part of the open education movement.

Well, there have been many others and I know there will be more role models to fill meaning in my life but this blog is particularly to convey gratitude to those who are also my dearest friends and have shaped me in many ways. They have opened up the avenues for me to look ahead in life which makes me feel rich inside as I am able to perceive the world from multiple dimensions.

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  1. Anupama Pain

    Thank you Usma! You chose to see what you see, and that makes you remarkable too 🙂

  2. Umang Jain

    Good to read this blog. Gratitude is an important thing. There are a lot of people who shape us in different ways and it’s required to have a sense of gratification towards them 🙂


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