Agastya Impact Stories – Sandhya

Agastya Impact Stories – Sandhya

By Guest Contributor Adhirath Sethi
Author of The Moving of Mountains, Adhirath Sethi, tells the remarkable story of Sandhya and how the Agastya International Foundation helped her achieve her success.

Sandhya was in the 4th or 5th grade when she first saw the Agastya campus in Kuppam. Visiting with her cousin as part of a summer camp, her first impression was that it might be a park. Sandhya was mesmerised by all the art and the plants that surrounded her. She recalls participating in a soil experiment, which gave her valuable, practical insights. The very experience of being on campus struck a chord with Sandhya. She was determined to be a part of the foundation in some way and wanted to benefit as much as she could from the abundant learning and the unique experiences that Agastya’s teaching provided.

In the 7th grade, Sandhya sat one of Agastya’s trademark tests and was selected as a Young Instructor Leader. Agastya’s YIL programme was especially effective in spotting young talent and Sandhya’s inclusion into this elite cadre was to prove to be life-changing.

Brought up in a family of four, Sandhya’s mother is a tailor. Her late father was a farmer. Her parents did not know much about Agastya but supported her through her journey once they learned how it might benefit their daughter. Through Agastya, Sandhya was able to secure a scholarship from the Puranam Family to further her education. This came at a when her family’s financial situation was dire, and she was on the verge of having to drop out of school.

Sandhya quickly found that Agastya was a place that encourages all talents. As a keen reader and a lover of music, Sandhya was allowed to hone her skills. She believes that Agastya’s methods allowed her to develop an analytical mindset enabling her to better deal with problems and handle personal issues.

As an introvert, Sandhya had never been comfortable speaking to people. She is grateful to Agastya for providing her with a platform and the opportunity to build her self-confidence, courage, and public speaking skills. Some years later, as an anchor at a YIL Alumni Meet, Sandhya addressed an audience of around 3000 children.

During her time as an Agastya YIL, she participated in several projects. One of these was Operation Vasantha.

Coming from a remote village, Sandhya had witnessed multiple problems with the state of education in her hometown. The number of school dropouts was staggeringly high due to the inability of parents to pay the school fees. A narrow-minded and ignorant view towards the importance of education – especially for girls – saw children being pushed into farming, or marriage, at a young age. Sandhya was inspired to bring about a change. She joined Operation Vasantha and helped with night schooling for school dropouts in her village. She conducted various science experiments with them and encouraged them to spark their creativity. Deeming it as a wonderful experience, she observed that her students’ minds shone in that environment of learning.

Her students praised Agastya’s practical, hands-on science learning, stating that “Two visits from Agastya are equivalent to a month of school”.

Sandhya was also able to make a difference by involving herself in various other Agastya programs such as science fairs and awareness sessions on child marriage. She also participated in Swachh Bharat (Clean India) initiatives in railway stations near Kuppam.

When asked about her passions, Sandhya says that she wishes to become an Office in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), fulfil her father’s dream and her own responsibility to serve society, and work towards having a positive impact on the education of girls. She dreams that no girl should suffer due to illiteracy or be a burden to their families, but should rather become strong, independent individual. After she becomes an IAS Officer, she wants to protect the young girls in her village from child marriage and provide them with support through Agastya.

She also wants to look after her mother and see her smile as her mother has sacrificed a lot for Sandhya.

Sandhya is 22 years old now and has graduated from college. She is presently pursuing her Master of Computer Applications (MCA) whilst working at a call centre to support herself financially.

As a former YIL, she advises every student at Agastya to be as curious as possible, learn everything, and most importantly, use the platform given to them very judiciously and properly because “If learning starts from childhood, life will be beautiful.”


Adirath Sethi is a Trustee of the Agastya International Foundation. He was formerly a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and is today a Director of his family’s business in India.

Suggested Reading

The Moving of Mountains tells the story of Agastya’s remarkable origins, the individuals who devoted their resources and efforts to make a difference, the vision and beliefs behind Agastya, and the many children who have benefitted from Agastya’s renowned experiments in educational innovation and project-based learning programs. The Moving of Mountains is, moreover, the story of an extraordinary and generous dream of a group of people who wanted to make available a path of discovery for everyone.

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