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From Mehsana to Sao Paulo: Dikesh Prajapati’s Story

With bated breath and sweaty palms, a young man of 19 sits among a sea of people at a closing ceremony that could rival the Oscars. His ears are alert, hoping his name will be called, hoping he has done his country proud. In Sao Paulo, over one thousand competitors from 59 different regions and countries have gathered to showcase their excellence across 50 skills at the World Skill Competition. Dikesh Prajapati is one of them.

Now an Auto-Body Painting instructor at the Japan-India Institute of Manufacturing (JIM), he is humble and soft-spoken, but Dikesh has a lot to boast about. His artwork began to be (unofficially) commissioned when he was just 8 years old. Wowed by his vivid imagination and lifelike pictures, friends and relatives would request drawings and he happily obliged. But he managed to turn his passion into a viable profession.

After graduating from the Kubernagar ITI in Gujarat, Dikesh began working at Uday Autolink (a Maruti Suzuki dealership) as a paint technician. Looking at his talent and skill, his manager nominated Dikesh for the World Skill Competition. The first round took place in Chakan, Pune, where Dikesh stood first. He continued blazing ahead of the competition, achieving 1st place in the next 3 rounds as well. In 2015 he was sent to New Zealand and then Germany for further advanced training in Auto-Body Painting, where he met other technicians from all over the world and was exposed to world-class machines and methods.

But now it was time to go for gold. Dikesh was careful not to let his past successes get the better of him. After a hectic 8-hour work day, he would spend another 4 hours every evening honing his skills for the finals. Dikesh feels it is his precision and accuracy that helped him reach this stage in the competition. “A tiny mistake, and everything goes for a toss. You have to be very alert and observant,” he says.

Finally, he made his way to Sao Paulo in Brazil to face 21 other young technicians from different countries for a week-long extravaganza focussing on Quad Repair, Wet-on-Wet Application, Plastic Repair, Designing, and Colour Matching. Dikesh reminisces fondly about his days in Sao Paulo, “It was such a rush to be there! Especially when you know you’re representing your country.” Although Dikesh didn’t manage to win this time around, he still became the first Indian to be part of the top ten. “I was a little upset, and angry at myself,” he says, “...after putting in so much effort, I really wanted to win and I was hoping that my name would be called. You only get one chance at something like this and I wanted to make it count. But later, my mentors spoke to me and said that most people only dream of opportunities like this. It’s your hard work and effort that’s helped you come this far and no one can take that away from you.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Dikesh is now training talented students at JIM, pushing them to reach for the stars. He mentions, “Darshak managed to place 1st at the state level at World Skills. Although he was eliminated in the next round, it still remains a considerable achievement and he was very happy that he reached there.

With trainers like Dikesh, JIM is poised to provide the industry with highly skilled technicians who are making waves nationally and internationally.

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