If it is surprising that no Mumbaikar has ever been a scientist at ISRO before, it is even more surprising that Pratamesh Hirve became the first one to break that spell considering the odds that were stacked against him. Yet, he worked hard for more than ten years, living in the Filter Pada slums of Mumbai to achieve this feat.
Pratamesh (25) has lived in a cramped 10×10 house in one of the heavily populated slums in Mumbai for most of his life, according to . He grew up wanting to be an engineer, but his family and friends did not believe in him initially. They wanted him to pursue arts as they considered it less expensive and easy to get through. The fact that he studied in a Hindi-medium school only slimmed his chances at becoming a successful engineer after joining diploma. According to he said,
The first two years of the diploma course were very difficult for me because of the language barrier and the complex engineering terms. I used to sit at the backbench so the professor would not ask me questions I could not answer.
Eventually, he overcame his inhibitions to learn English and improvised on it during internships. After understanding that Pratamesh was working really hard to become an engineer, his parents started supporting him. He applied to ISRO last year, but made it only to the waiting list. However, he wasn’t ready to give up considering that he wanted to work only for ISRO. His hard work reaped benefits, and this year, he became the first scientist from Mumbai to join ISRO. He said,
When I found out that I was through, it was such a happy moment for me. I put in 10 long years of hard work before I could reach ISRO. I will be posted in Chandigarh. Now I want to give my parents a better home and life.
Pratamesh was one of the nine selected engineers out of the 16,000 applications that ISRO received. Though his mother does not understand what working for ISRO means, she is proud of her son.