From 39% to 45% then 55% and finally 63.33%, Ashok Choudhari’s academic and professional journey has been on an upward trajectory in the last decade. An alumnus from the AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Belgaum, Karnataka, he is currently working as a senior process analyst with the IT bellwether Infosys at its Pune campus.
Ashok entered the AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys in Belgaum, Karnataka in 2005 just after completing his Xth board examinations in which he scored 39%. A resident of Dudhad village situated 25 km away from Aurangabad; Choudhari is the son of a cotton grower. He has four siblings (three sisters and one brother) and he is the youngest of the lot. “Earlier, my family used to grow sugar cane in addition to cotton but lack of irrigation and water in the region has ensured a mono crop over 4 acres in the last 10 years.”
Swami Chitprakashananda Saraswati ji, one of our main coordinators in the Karnataka region used to visit Aurangabad often and the young Ashok came in touch with him. When Ashok entered PUC (Pre University College, XI standard) in Belgaum, his school was English medium. Till Xth standard, he had studied in a Marathi medium institution in Aurangabad. Choudhari opted for the arts stream in his first year of PUC. “Initially, I struggled a lot. I had difficulty in understanding lot of subjects as everything was taught in English. But Swamiji (Swami Chitprakashananda) came to my rescue. He used to personally sit with me and helped me brush up my English skills.” Hard work by Ashok coupled with motivation and support from Swamiji reflected in the results—55% in PUC in 2007.
At this juncture, Ashok felt he needed to take a sabbatical and enrolled in a hardware networking course rolled out by HCL. Around the same time, he also enrolled in English speaking classes and in hindsight, he is happy that he took a break when he was at the crossroads – ‘What next after 12th.’ “Enrolling in the English classes helped me improve my grammar. I became more confident that I could now converse in English,” Ashok recalls.
In 2009, he joined the BBA (Bachelors of Business Administration) course in Samiti College, Belgaum after counselling by the college principal. Ashok came out with flying colours – first class (63.33%) in his BBA course. “I managed to clear all papers in my first attempt without any arrears,” he says proudly.
During his last semester, Ashok took up a part time job in the kids section at the Big Bazaar outlet in his area. “It was tough as I used to hit the sack at the Chatralayam well past 11:30 pm. I had to get up early the next day for yoga and morning prayers.”
But Ashok never complained and he has only happy memories of that hectic period. “I became child like myself while working in the kids section at Big Bazaar. I also realised at that time that weekends did not mean off for certain businesses like retail and that Saturdays and Sunday were the biggest and busiest days for big format stores.”
In 2013, Ashok decided to do his post graduation and did his MBA with specialisation in finance and marketing from the Jain Group of Institution, Bangalore that had a branch in Belgaum. Post MBA in 2015, Ashok started to work as a sales executive in a sanitary ware showroom in Belgaum.
In April 2016, he got an email from Infosys asking him to appear for an interview after his job profile was viewed online. After three rounds of interviews, Ashok got into Infosys and as part of his role, he has to manage the IT’s behemoth’s vendor database.
Amidst all this, Ashok hasn’t forgotten AIM for Seva and continues to be associated with it in various ways. Whenever he gets a long break, he makes it a point to visit our Chatralayams in Chikhali (Pune) and Maval (Pune) and takes computer classes for our students out there. There are currently 25 boys residing in the Chikhali Chatralayam and 28 in Maval. In addition, he is also proactive about publicising the good work done by AIM for Seva in his professional capacity and has sought financial support from his organisation. “Sometime back, I wrote to the concerned officials in the CSR (corporate social responsibility) wing of Infosys asking them to support our Chatralayams. They replied back positively stating that their CSR budgets were utilised for the year and that they will consider it for next year.”
In many respects, Ashok exemplifies a duty bound individual. “My biggest learning after entering the AIM for Seva Chatralayam network was the importance of hard work and patience. I have reached thus far because of the support and encouragement that I received from Swami Chitprakashananda Saraswati ji and others. Now, I need to return that favour and help someone in need,” he says. Ashok is currently serving his notice period in Infosys and will be moving to Wipro in a new role in the same city soon. We wish him all the very best.