Interview with Rahul Khandelwal (Journey from I.I.T to N.G.O to Unlearn Formulae)

Q:- Three lettered I.I.T to three lettered N.G.O, what’s your take ?

A:- Both are in different dimensions. Talking about IIT, it taught us how to live, how to take up challenges, IIT taught us what commitment  is, about integrity and most importantly it taught us how to meet deadlines . It injected a virus called “Yes, I can”. While working for a Dutch firm as a business analyst I saw a different dimension of life whose coordinate axes can be defined as office politics, repetitive work and degrees of freedom and as the time passed, I saw the first two coordinates were increasing at a pretty high rate and the third one was going towards zero which made me realize that I am not channelizing my energies into the right direction and hence I took a decision to stop and think beyond the bread, butter and fun.

So, I decided to take a break for some time and explore myself. This is where my tryst with the education sector began and soon I found myself gloomed in the world of social service.

Q:  What drove you towards social sector and precisely why Education?

A: – Truth to be told, I have never imagined myself to be engrossed this much into education. I just stumbled upon the opportunity of working with Pratham Education Foundation and I had no idea what kind of work I would be doing at Pratham. When I had my interview at Pratham, I still remember feeling of joy for the step that I had taken to choose my freedom and getting out from the vicious circle of the corporate.

After 3 months of working with Pratham, I got sensitied towards this sector and during this time frame I could actually see what all has happened with me in my school education and then I decided to make my contribution to eradicate the problem of quality education inwhatever capacity I can make. I deeply feel that if the seed of leadership, confidence and intellectual independence  is sown in the early age it can make a big difference in the life of an individual and which will help India grow from a country of cheap labours to visionary leaders and education is the best platform to do this.

Q:- How did Unlearn Formulae happened? Moreover, what made you shift from a large platform to a smaller independent for-profit model?

A:- Before starting Unlearn Formulae, I was working with Pratham, a leading NGO in the field of education. My job profile involved program management, training government school teachers and content development (Math) for children studying in primary / upper primary schools in rural India.In the two years at Pratham, I realized that it was amazing to work with a large institution as it provided one a huge platform and tremendous outreach to bring about desired change but there were certain pitfalls too. Moreover,  working with the base of the pyramid I felt that “you cannot teach art to people who don’t even know whether they will have both meals

a day”. So after putting 1000 units of input you get back may be 100 units of output but if you give the same input to the people who have resources but don’t know how to utilize them to their best, if you can help them out then they can be the job creators for the people at the base of the pyramid. That’s when I decided to start Unlearn Formulae where I could work and deliver in a manner that I felt would have the maximum impact.

Q:-Where do you go from here, please tell us about your future plans?

A: – I am not somebody who looks into future but what I believe is that the end points of life are kind of fixed and the least resistance you have and the more acceptance you have will lead you to the end point in least time with least wastage of energy and thus you get a chance to apply your energy further into other things. So I try to walk with an open mind and be honest and pouring myself in whatever I do. Its not about the destination but its more about enjoying and cherishing the journey.

Q:-One last question, what is the mystery behind this beard?

A:-   Well I can say why not keep a beard. Basically I learnt from my beard the concept of free growth without any restriction and it constantly gives me a reminder about the biggest truth which is “ACCEPTANCE”.

Rahul Khandelwal is the founder of Unlearn Formulae, a unique institution for Maths. He has worked for 2 years with Pratham Education Foundation before setting foot as an entrepreneur. He is based out of New Delhi and can be contacted at


One Response to “Interviews”

  1. Leandro April 26, 2013 at 5:24 AM #

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