Independence Day is a celebration of freedom. Everyone defines freedom differently. Slavery, poverty, and oppression must be abolished to establish a dignified and self-determined life. My narrative of independence began when I decided to stop being restrained by society standards and start seeking my dreams.

I am Ayushi Gautam, a final-year Electronics and Communication Engineering student at Kumaraguru College of Technology. I was born in the villages of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, where having a girl child is still frowned upon. Unlike everyone else, my struggle for existence began immediately after birth. My family limited my ability to dream because I did not come from a financially secure family. My parents’ unwavering support helped shape me into a person who would not give up because of my gender or financial situation.

Since my childhood, I’ve been captivated with space technology, particularly satellite communication. As a result, I decided to pursue my ambition by studying Electronics and Communication at Kumaraguru College of Technology in Coimbatore, which is approximately 2,200 km distant from my home. In college, I joined several groups and forums and participated in many projects as well as national and international contests to constantly improve my technical and management skills.

I was recently given the IEEE AESS Engineering Scholarship for 2023, which is worth $10,000. I am the world’s first Indian and female candidate to receive this scholarship. This acknowledgement provided me with self-confidence and inspiration as I was able to pay off my debts and begin planning for the future. It was a watershed moment in my life when I realized what a strong and motivated mind can do. I had various obstacles in my life to stop me from growing and realizing my dreams, but I fought for my freedom and accepted the challenges.

‘Freedom of Mind is the real freedom,’ this sentiment holds especially true in the context of the challenges faced by Indian girl children. In a society where prejudice and inequality persist, a person whose mind remains confined is not truly free, even if not bound by physical chains. The journey of an Indian girl child is often fraught with obstacles that aim to hinder growth and the pursuit of dreams. Yet, these challenges have been met with resilience and determination, as they fight for their rightful freedom. As we approach this Independence Day, it is a call to action for all, to break free from the shackles of societal norms and to pledge unwavering dedication towards achieving personal aspirations. 
Vande Mataram!

-Ayushi Gautam 
Final Year – B.E. Electronics & Communication Engineering 
Kumaraguru College of Technology (KCT)