How a Wharton summer school alum is helping save the planet

28 Sep

Aniketh Khutia studies at DPS, Ruby Park, Kolkata. After participating in the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy in the summer of 2016, he teamed up with a friend on the latter’s environmental initiative called Stopwatch. As a Member (Operations), he discusses how far the fledgling venture has come in just over a year, plans for its future, and the need for young people to act urgently to save the planet. BrainGain Magazine wishes Aniketh and Stopwatch every success! 

Photo illustration from maxpixel


After coming back from my summer at Wharton, I was dying to do something constructive. Business competitions in Kolkata helped keep me busy for a few days, but there was no sense of fulfillment in winning them. I couldn’t find a reason to pitch imaginary companies to imaginary investors week after week. Even though the Wharton program had sharpened my problem-solving and public speaking skills, I could not find any direction for applying myself. That’s when I met Yash.

Yash Khumbhat founded Stopwatch in the summer of 2016. Stopwatch had humble beginnings – its first few projects were community clean-ups and environmental education drives. But after spending his summer attending former US Vice-President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project training and the Yale Young Global Scholars program, Yash was able to make Stopwatch one of the successful high-school student-run environmental organizations in the state of West Bengal. Yash was selected to be a keynote speaker at INKYOUTH 2016, and later in the year Stopwatch was featured in The Telegraph on Earth Day.

Aniketh Khutia (far right) on the University of Pennsylvania campus during the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy, 2016

Aniketh Khutia (far right) on the University of Pennsylvania campus during the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy, 2016


From joining Stopwatch in November 2016, to managing its operations now, I finally feel as if I belong somewhere. Not only did Stopwatch give me a purpose, but it also gave me a family.

Since it’s student-run, we have faced a lot of problems while kick-starting projects. People don’t take a bunch of ambitious kids seriously enough sometimes. But we powered through, from running around trying to set up meetings with government officials to standing up against local goons while cleaning lakes – we’ve seen and done it all.

Since we are all school-going students, we allocate a fixed amount of time to Stopwatch. We use this time to come up with new ideas and ways to get funding for the same. Currently, we are starting the second phase of The Brighter Tomorrow Initiative, which takes us to the rural areas and urban poor communities to electrify homes using solar panels.

Our first phase was a success. We set up a communication line between representatives of the Piyali Learning Centre, a free school funded by American benefactors. They gave us a list of families in the village who had no access to electricity. We got our first round of funding – almost US $1,000 – from another student-run American organization called Young Change Best Change, to support our efforts in Piyali.

After receiving the money, we got the panels from Tara Solar, an Indian alternative energy company based in Kolkata. Our plan reached fruition in March 2017, when we went all the way to Piyali and electrified almost a dozen homes. Finally, after four months of hard work, it all came through.

The success of the first phase led us to start work​ on the second phase. We have begun the ground work and initial fundraising. We have set up a Generosity account to raise funds (any amount is welcome).

We at Stopwatch believe that the clock is ticking, and that the time to act is now. The youth needs to come together and take the initiative. This world is ours and it’s our duty to protect it. In the words of Robert Swan, “The greatest threat to our planet Is the belief that someone else will save it.” So we at Stopwatch strive to take action before it’s too late.

By: Aniketh Khutia, Member (Operations), Stopwatch


Summer programs broaden horizons – check out the links below!
Why I worry about President Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement
Two weeks that changed my life completely
Inspiration from the dabbawalas of Mumbai
How a summer program made me fall in love with a university
Learning to embrace the impractical and think more creatively
Choosing between an Ivy League offer and a full scholarship
Two weeks at the Oxford Scholastica Academy’s summer school

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