His desire to know the world took him to St. Stephens’ College, India’s elitist bastion of liberal thought (2000-03). There, Abhinav served as the Secretary-General, Vice-president, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Commonwealth Society of India. In the capacities mentioned above, he led teams of Delhi University in the Austral Asian Debate Competiton at Nanyang Technological Univesity of Singapore, and an educational tour to Marlborough House, (Commonwealth Office), London. His interaction with foreign diplomats, nation heads, and Indian civil servants provided him a robust exposure and understanding of global and domestic affairs.
After completing his undergraduate program, Abhinav worked in the development sector in rural areas of Rajasthan. Plus, he also advised local politicians in policymaking and policy implementation. Working in the development sector in rural areas enabled him to develop a nuanced understanding of the subconscious mindset of the ordinary masses of India. It was a rich exposure to India’s development challenges and the society and politics at the grassroots level. At the same time, Abhinav’s spiritual quest began. His meetings with an array of self-realized and enlightened saints of Rajasthan opened new vistas of thinking and action in his life. Those experiences were also an unlearning of many superficialities, which he learned during his undergrad days of elitist education. There was a point when he wanted to renounce the world and embark on a spiritual journey. However, at that point, he met his master, who initiated him in the spiritual tradition of Dhyana and told him that he has to contribute a lot to this world.
In 2012, Abhinav went to Cornell University (USA) for his graduate program in public affairs. At Cornell, he studied public policy, development economics, and Game Theory under the likes of Prof. Gary Fields, Prof. David Lipsky, Prof. John Mathiason, and Prof. Iswar Prasad. The two years at Cornell were a life-changing experience for him. He was elected as the International Students’ Representative, and then he founded the International Affairs Forum (IAF) to promote soft power in diplomacy and public policy. As the Founder-Chairperson of IAF, Abhinav organized the visits and lectures of India’s Consul General, Mr. Muley, Mr. Tejendra Khanna, former LG of Delhi, Prof. Gary Fields and the former UN Diplomat Prof. John Mathiason, at Cornell University (2012-14).
During his internship as a Social Capital Analyst with Community Foundation in New York, Abhinav got the opportunity to understand the race relations in American society. After Cornell, he wanted to continue in the US. He even got three Ph.D. offers from prestigious US universities. However, destiny had something else in store for Abhinav. He came back to India. For a while, he worked as a Consultant with the International Labour Organisation, drafting modules of semi-technical courses for MGNREGS overseers. The UN assignment taught a lot about the functioning of international organizations. For a while, it seemed that the journey ahead would be with the UN. However, once again, destiny had something else for him.
After returning, once again, to India in late 2016, Abhinav joined Vidya Bhawan Rural Institute as Strategic Advisor on higher education and youth affairs. The transition from New York City to semi-urban subarbs of Southern Rajasthan was more like a journey back in time. During his Vidya Bhawan days, Abhinav was exposed to the violent student and caste politics of rural India and the ailments of India’s education system. He soon found that the youth, which was being projected as India’s ‘demographic dividend,’ was actually a ticking time-bomb, if not engaged in productive ways, and that required massive interventions in the education system.