Arhan Bagati ’21

Major: Politics

Minor: Asian Studies

Profession: Founder of KYARI and Awareness Ambassador of Paralympic Committee of India

Hometown: New Delhi, India

What are you doing now?

I was appointed as the world’s youngest and India’s first-ever deputy chef de mission of the Indian Paralympic Contingent for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. It was a historic year as it was India’s largest ever Paralympic contingent with 54 athletes, as well as its most ever medal tally of 19 medals.

I have also set up an applied research institute in Kashmir, called “Kashmir’s Yumberzal Applied Research Institute” (KYARI), which aims to focus on identifying developmental issues in the region and providing solutions for the same. Topics would range from tourism to electricity to roads and the like. I will be moving full time to Srinagar, Kashmir, very soon to work for this institute of mine.

How did you get there?

I have been involved with the Paralympic Committee of India since 2014, in multiple capacities. From developing two mobile applications for our Paralympic athletes to playing a role in back-end coordination and logistics, to being their official awareness and impact ambassador.

For the institute, being a Kashmiri Pandit, [which is a Kashmiri Hindu community], myself, the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmir, is very close to my heart. After traveling extensively throughout the region, interacting with a variety of people from different walks of life and staying there for different lengths of time at a stretch, I have come to understand that focusing on developmental issues is imperative for the region.

How did Pomona prepare you?

Pomona has played a major transformative role in my life. Aside from myself, my parents Anubha and Tapesh Bagati will easily confirm the same. In addition to obvious academic benefits, Pomona has given me perspective—something I consider very important in life. By giving me the opportunity to interact with diverse individuals, mindsets and backgrounds, be it professors or students, Pomona has provided me with a plethora of knowledge and information that I was able to absorb. The cliché of “out-of-the-box” thinking has proven to be true here, with Pomona and life at Pomona instilling an idea of lateral thinking in me. This holistic development of a liberal arts education has helped me grow immensely as a person, and thus not only fit into the role of deputy chef de mission but also have the courage to start my own applied research institute in Kashmir.

Moreover, Pomona’s focus and rigor on academics—its emphasis on research and understanding topics, issues and concepts from their core, regardless of subject—are among the primary reasons why I have decided to start an applied research institute. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself having completed my master’s degree, having worked more for the Paralympic movement in India (again in varying capacities, with a focus on awareness creation), and most importantly having achieved multiple successes with KYARI so that implementation of those solutions becomes a reality. 

Any advice for current or prospective students?

My two cents are just to say that Pomona is a great choice—in hindsight, the best for me. The experience will develop you holistically as a person, giving you versatility, regardless of your major. The professors will have so much more than just their academic prowess to offer. The students will bring with them a host of differing perspectives and mindsets, and regardless of anything that in itself is something to cherish. Any incident, good, bad or ugly, is a learning curve and should be treated as such. At the end of your time at Pomona, you’ll be able to appreciate the journey much more.