‘A Quizzer, Swimmer, Writer, And A Reader’ – Avinav Prakash, TISS Mumbai – Best30 – Class Of 2019

Avinav Prakash, a quizzer and swimmer, was born in Bhubaneshwar and brought up in Kolkata; he embraced the best of both cultures, loves writing on Quora and reading books and watching good movies, enjoys exploring forts and historical monuments, seeks inspiration from stories of Indian Army and Lee Kuan Yew.

Name an instance where you wanted something and went out of your comfort zone to achieve it OR Tell us the biggest risk you have taken so far in your life.

I worked in a hydrocarbon manufacturing plant which handled inflammable and toxic materials. It was the evening of Diwali. As most of the employees wanted to spend the evening with their family and friends, I along with three others, volunteered to stay back in the plant. As per the routine, I was inside the control room manning the control panels of the plant.

At around 1 am, from the CCTV footage, I noticed a stray cracker rocket landing inside the plant premises.

As per the protocol, under no circumstances was I supposed to leave the panel unmanned. One wrong could risk the lives of many in the vicinity of the plant.

I informed my Shift-Superintendent of the intrusion. He rushed but was unable to locate the landing area of the rocket. Split between protocol and call-of-duty, I put on my fire suit and picked up a fire extinguisher and reached the spot. I saw a simmering ball of fire with thick black fumes. The rocket had landed in a trench containing spent hydrocarbon. Generally, the extinguisher I was carrying is not considered effective in handling trench fires. However, I took my gamble and broke the seal and sprayed it on the fire.

As the fire extinguisher exhausted within a minute, the fire took its time and eventually doused. The prompt response to dilemma saved the day with no loss to life or property.

 

When was the last time someone relied on you? OR What did you do which was purely for someone else – a truly selfless act.

Once I got the opportunity to teach basic Mathematics and English to two 6-year-old boys. They had never been to school despite deep interest in schooling and instead helped their fathers at roadside tea stalls.

However, their fathers resented the unavailability of the boys during business hours. They felt education is fine as long as it did not interfere with work. No matter how much did I try and convince them to relieve the boys from the chores, the fathers held their ground. Thus, I changed their time schedule so that the boys could accommodate their work at the tea stall as well as lessons for the day.

In three months, they could count, add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers. They had even picked up basic English from the stories I told them. However, their chores at their tea stalls limited their potential. I had to sort the issue.

One morning, while sipping tea I asked one of them to enact a short story to his father, in English. His father’s face lit up with glee. As he hugged his son, he said that no one in his family ever learnt English and seeing his son speak it is no less than a miracle. He promised to send his son to a formal school henceforth.

Tell us about a time when you disagreed with an opinion/idea/decision. What did you do about it?

Due to some operational shortcomings in the manufacturing plant where I used, a choking of a critical process line was detected.
The problem had to be resolved. However, it was not possible to do that without a production loss by taking a total plant shutdown. The management had taken a final decision.

That is when I suggested a simple and effective solution. I proposed to increase the temperature of the chemicals in the upstream of the choke. An elevated temperature with persistent contact with the choke point would dislodge the choking material due to the excess heat, without the need of taking a shutdown.

To my dismay, the idea was struck down by my manager on the pretext that elevated temperatures might damage the streamlines. However, I knew this was not true as the material was strong enough to handle such temperatures. With the help of my colleagues, I made elaborate calculations and presented it to my plant manager, persuading him to have faith in my idea as any other action would only lead to a production loss.

With time running out, I had one-on-one meetings with senior engineers to apprise them of my idea. Thanks to prudent communication, the idea was finally implemented and the problem was resolved.

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