Blast that shook up lives, reshaped careers

How Feb 13, 2010 turned an IAS aspirant towards social service

He was not there when the bomb ripped apart German Bakery, killing 17 people and injuring around 60. But the incident shook the life and career plans of 30-year-old Manish Singh, who rushed to the city on learning his brother was severely injured in the blast at the eatery. His brother's close friend died in the explosion. It also blew a hole in Manish's dreams of preparing for the IAS. A shocked Manish decided to chart a new course. He is now actively working in Naxalite-affected tribal district of Umaria in Madhya Pradesh.

"My brother Sumeet was severely injured in the blast and his friend Rajeev Agarwal died. Another friend Rishabh Agarwal shattered his knee and I was devastated when I saw so many families lose their loved ones," says Manish. "I rushed to Pune and for nearly two months was involved in taking care of my brother who was admitted to Inlaks and Budhrani Hospital, where I talked to other injured victims and their families," he adds.

That's when his life took a new turn. "I was preparing for civil service examination but could no longer focus on that after seeing the dead bodies and the pain and anguish of relatives of the dead," Manish said. He decided not to appear for the IAS examination and enrolled for a post-graduate course in social work from Delhi University and soon became a Prime Minister's Rural Development Scheme fellow to work in remote tribal areas affected by Naxalites.

"We assist the district collectorate in implementing national welfare programmes in Umaria among the 80 remote districts listed in the country's 'integrated action plan' for development. Connectivity is poor and working in remote areas is a challenge I thought would divert my mind. It is crucial to reach people in the Naxal zone, says Manish who still struggles to deal with the blast and the effect it had on him.

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