New Delhi: Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill had said, ‘‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’’ More than 8 months into the dreaded pandemic Covid-19, the novel coronavirus has wrecked a lot more than the health of millions of people across the globe. The ravaging illness has not only stolen lives, livelihood and a state of normalcy--it is attacking the future as well. As students and teachers embrace the online means of education, those belonging to the weaker sections of the society are somehow still on the starting line of the race. With limited or no access to a stable internet connection and a digital device to participate in the classes, the pandemic has left many students behind, damaging their future prospects.

Engineering students too have to bear the brunt of this coronavirus, peeved by the fact that they had international offers in their hands from renowned institutes of the world, but they couldn’t venture out to realize their cherished dreams. Abhishek Agrahari, who is pursuing BTech in mechanical engineering (just passed 2nd Year) at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET, Patiala-Punjab), is also no exception. He has been selected for various prestigious summer internship programmes at several reputed global Universities in the US, Germany, Israel etc. But the coronavirus has attempted to dishearten him, ‘‘though for the time being’’.

Speaking exclusively with Asianet Newsable, 20-year-old Abhishek shared his pensive musings. ‘‘I have international internship offers from Penn State University, USA; University of Illinois, USA; the Institute of Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany; Tel-Aviv University, Israel; and several other national institutes including IITs (Kanpur and Bombay) and DRDO.’’

‘‘I would’ve been in the US right now, but this corona has given me a temporary setback in my mission. Dispelling all the despair and desperation I’ve decided to look ahead with renewed vigour. There may be several other engineering students who might have missed their bus because of the pandemic. But I have a word for all of them. It’s said that opportunity knocks at the door. The current pandemic, in all literal sense, closed the doors following lockdown. It is up to us to either wait for the opportunity to knock at the door or open the door and look for opportunities. I am glad that I chose to open the door which further opened my eyes to the realities of the world,’’ Abhishek added.

He said, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. The recent COVID pandemic has been a learning phase for humanity at large. Not to ignore the threat and challenges mankind has been forced to face post this COVID scare, I somehow feel that the current pandemic brought out a new individual in me. It’s the lockdown in recent times that, I would say has unlocked my thought process about many facts, so far unseen and not appreciated by me. I have learnt that it’s imperative that we give back to society. It need not be financial aid but could be imparting knowledge, sharing information, providing social comfort, etc.’’

Faced with a similar situation there are a lot more engineering students who might be in depression. ‘‘The lockdown across countries, states, and cities forced most of us to stay indoors and pursue our online classes, activities, and hobbies from within the walls of our respective homes. I took up the opportunity to get connected with as many reputed technical universities in the world as possible. I also got involved in imparting the unconditional and perpetual support to many of my fellow students in their upcoming endeavours,’’ he added.

‘‘Richard Branson has optimistically stated, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” Every formal and informal interaction with them opened a new aspect of life and struggles being faced by them. I realized that you do not need to be rich to help someone, but you surely should have a heart that beats. Nevertheless, Anne Frank believes “No one has ever become poor by giving,” Abhishek told Asianet Newsable.

‘‘Over several years of my teaching experience, I have taught thousands of students, coming from varied backgrounds and possessing a wide variety of talents, abilities and personality traits. I can remember few as talented as Abhishek. Based on my observations, I can attest that he is a highly intelligent, sincere and hard-working student with a tremendous drive to reach his goals. He is broad-minded and has interests in different areas of mechanical engineering. He has an unusual thinking style and ability to combine methods and ideas from different disciplines,’’ SS Bhatia, Dean of Academic Affairs, TIET told Asianet Newsable.