Pradeep Mehra
Image Credit: ANI

Pradeep Mehra, 19, works shifts at McDonald's and runs like the wind. His running went viral in a video filmed and shared by the National Award winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri.

Pradeep runs as training and wants to join the Indian Army or the paramilitary forces.

Pradeep also runs like the wind because after a shift at McDonald's, he has to cook dinner for his elder brother who works a night shift.

Also read

Kapri saw Pradeep running late at night and was intrigued. He slowed down his car and offered to dop the young boy. Pradeep refused. Kapri then offered to take him home for dinner.

Pay attention to Pradeep’s answer, “I can’t get used to being dropped; it will spoil my training and routine.” To the dinner offer he said, “Who will cook for my older brother? I can’t let him go hungry for his night shift.”

So how many kilometres does Pradeep, who looks extremely fit in the video, run? His daily run is ten kilometres with a backpack.

The reason I chose to showcase Pradeep in SWAT Analysis, dear reader, is that he gave me inspiration and hope in our currently dismal age of pandemic.

An inspiration

What I found inspirational about Pradeep is that the young lad is matter of fact about his packed schedule working, running and working at home. At no point does he bemoan fate and karma as we often do in India, blaming our circumstances for our many miseries.

Throughout his long chat with Kapri, the boy does not stand still for even a moment, and is focused on his training. He has an infectious smile belying the tough shift he has just worked.

The focus and the urgency in the 19 year old teenager is astonishing. Kapri at one point tells him “your video will go viral”. Pradeep looks half scoffing and half hopeful. The innocent joy is infectious.

You can’t watch the video without smiling and hoping fervently that this hard worker’s dreams come true and sprinkle some stardust on this boy fighting so many odds.

As promised by Kapri, Pradeep’s video went viral and all the news channels and social media in India showcased Pradeep.

My fervent wish is that Pradeep is not just a one day wonder taken up by the social media and forgotten totally when the next viral video comes along.

Some cynics say that we romanticise poverty in India. I would like to be on the side of hope. When Pradeep himself is not romanticising his poverty, why do we have to be so cynical and yawn and predict the worst outcome?

Hard scrabble

Poverty is grim, the hard scrabble just to survive to ensure another meal is all encompassing but, that doesn’t mean that the poor aren’t allowed to have dreams.

Pradeep exemplifies a boy who works hard for his dreams — running ten kilometres every day and also working hard to support his family.

Even those of us, who have not experienced poverty, do work hard and have dreams. And, the least we can do through our privilege is to make someone less privileged than us to attain their goal.

Pradeep’s video and his desire to join the Army in that viral clip had many serving Army officials committing publicly that they would help him join the Army. Normally social media is a toxic medium of hate and negativity but, Pradeep’s story shows that social media can also help a young boy’s dreams come true.

From a cesspit of hate which is social media — on a normal day — to a pool of hope where senior political leaders cutting across party lines and irate people saw and shared the video — with a wish to make his dream a reality.

Pradeep reminded me of our former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who got first class degrees from the Ivy League by starting his school studies under a lamppost in his village of Gah.

Even when he was the PM, Singh never dramatised his hard scrabble life, his dream of getting higher education and going to Cambridge and Oxford. Singh just worked hard. And, made it all the way to being a two term PM of India.

I hope Pradeep can go the Singh way and be hugely successful. I also hope he never losses his infectious grin. Pradeep made me smile and gave me hope at a low point. I owe him my gratitude and will be thrilled when he joins the Army.