Amish Sarpotdar

Amish is an Indian PhD student in Planning and Environmental Management, who was working as an urban consultant with the Government of India on the Smart Cities Mission policy. He’s fully-funded through a School of Environment, Education and Development Studentship.

On my research

Amish Sarpotdar, PhD Planning and Environmental Management

Amish Sarpotdar

PhD Planning and Environmental Management

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I have been a 'big city' person throughout my life. I’m interested and fascinated by all things urban, but my specific research interests lie at managing cities in a sustainable approach while utilising the advancements in GIS technology.

My research findings aim to influence the decisions made on urban management and especially housing using the data, maps and visualisations aided by GIS. This should help metropolitan regional governments interact and take effective sustainable decisions.

I want to work in improving urban spaces and cities, so I will keep working on that. Observing cities outside my home country and living in a truly global city like Manchester has helped me understand cities from a different perspective and this will go a long way.

On choosing my PhD

Working in the government of India, I realised that there was enough will to bring about effective change in handling cities, the institutional structure existed as well. However, a major gap in the implementation and execution was due to a lack of research on urban India.

The research from my master’s dissertation – where I specialised in urban policy – convinced me that managing our urban spaces effectively will significantly influence the trajectory of our civilisation as more and more people shift to cities. I just wanted to hop on and help.

The Manchester Urban Institute has been at the forefront of cutting edge urban research in the UK. What makes Manchester unique is the diversity of doctoral students that study here. We have students working on cities from Toronto to Guangzhou. This was a major incentive for me to apply for a degree here.

Amish Sarpotdar

On my PhD student experience

Exhilarating, exhausting, enriching, overwhelming, and satisfying. In a sentence: It is a crazy roller coaster ride that you are satisfied to undertake.

As an individual, I have learnt more in the past two years than I did in my entire twenty years of education. And that learning has majorly been influenced by the diversity of the research community and students at the University. In addition to this, the exposure and support provided by the research community within the School of Environment, Education and Development, and extra-curricular activities, has enhanced my experience manifold.

Outside of the day-to-day work I’ve been able to:

  • attend a summer college by the Regional Studies Association in Sardinia;
  • work on the UK 2070 commission report with the planning department;
  • help organise the SEED PGR conference 2019;
  • be actively involved in the Wellbeing initiative of the University.

I’m also actively involved with the Run Wild Manchester society. We run twice a week and that has helped me keep my mental and physical health well. It’s a free running society and all we expect from people is to turn up. The year ends nicely with everyone doing the purple wave as part of the Great Manchester Run (the largest 10k in the UK).

On training and development

There are a lot of training and development opportunities at the University. I have attended courses across faculties and that has given me some important skills for enriching my research.

“What makes Manchester unique is the diversity of doctoral students that study here. We have students working on cities from Toronto to Guangzhou.”

On living in Manchester

I would say the best thing about living in Manchester, is its history, football culture and the poetic vibe of Manchester. Manchester is all about football! I never followed football ardently until I came here and now I believe it is like my second religion (shhh on the team I support!). First will always be cricket (and both sports are well developed in Manchester).

I live in a student hall. There are a few advantages including the proximity to University. The PhD can be a very lonely journey; it is good to be around master’s and undergrad students when you come home.

There are a lot of international students at the University and so I have felt a part of international culture. The UK and India have a shared history and thus some of the cultural and institutional aspects were familiar to me. However, the music culture here is of a different level altogether.

I quite like the way English is spoken here. I have never really taken part in any multicultural events; however, my involvement with a lot of activities has ensured that I have a multi-cultural international friends circle.

My tips for future students

I came to Manchester without knowing a single person in the entire country and it was also my first time outside the Indian subcontinent. To date I’ve never felt homesick, Manchester has a good balance of international students that enables you to explore other cultures and yet engage with friends from your own country if you ever miss it.

The sheer number of activities in semester one can be overwhelming, I learnt it the hard way that there should be a balance. There are a lot of things happening in the University however the doctoral degree provides you with the luxury of doing only some. So it is necessary to pick and choose. I would strongly urge new PhD students to do activities outside of their research and explore interests outside their comfort zone.

It is also always good to reach out and ask for help. There is no embarrassment or shyness that should stop someone from reaching out. Ask for help and you will get it and maybe also make some great friendships on the way, so don’t hold back and reach out!

Read more about our PhD Planning and Environmental Management programme.