Indian Teen's Midnight Routine Goes Viral, Inspires Millions

Pradeep Mehra is humble, inspiring, and very popular with Indian military recruiters
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2022 11:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pradeep Mehra was simply following his routine: a brisk 5-mile midnight run after a 10-hour shift at McDonald's. Filmmaker Vinod Kapri happened to be driving by and "was alarmed at first, worried that the boy was in trouble," according to NPR. It's no wonder, because judging by this clip, Mehra runs like someone is chasing him. Kapri cracked his window and asked if the young man needed help, and their ensuing conversation, which Kapri recorded video of, went viral on Twitter. This would not be the first time someone Forrest-Gumped their way to social media glory, but Mehra is on a mission, and his backstory offers both inspiration and insight into the lives of India’s working poor.

It is also the kind of thing military recruiters worldwide dream about. In Kapri's video, 19-year-old Mehra explains that he is training to fulfill a lifelong goal of joining the army. He runs at night because it's the only available time between helping his brother care for their ailing parents and his 1pm-11pm shift; the Hindustan Times reported he started the running routine about a month ago. Mehra is not alone in his aspirations. Per NPR, "a career in the army has proven to be reliable for many young men in India," but qualifying exams are grueling, with some 800,000 applicants typically vying for fewer than 60,000 spots.

Since going viral—the video has more than 11 million views—fans have bestowed him with running shoes, cash, and a three-year scholarship to a military prep school. An Indian general tweeted his support and commended Mehra's "Josh" (Hindi for vigor or passion). Asked by NPR how the sudden fame might affect his future, Mehra said, "I only want to focus on my goal of being able to make it into the army. I also want to be able to take care of my parents better." As for advice: "When it comes to achieving your goals, you need to be focused and determined. There should be no excuses. In other words, don't ever stop running." (Read the full interview here.)

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