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Disability no bar for students to race towards life’s goals at Bengaluru B-school

A bilateral amputee, hailing from Narasaraopet in Andhra Pradesh, Nareddula believes he can accomplish anything that he sets his mind to.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: December 4, 2020 8:18:21 am
While IIMB has 46 specially-abled students across courses at present, officials claim that the institution’s estate office is in continuous pursuit towards making the entire campus disabled-friendly. (Photo credit: IIM Bangalore)

Vivekananda Nareddula, a first-year student in the two-year Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), may have lost his hands in an accident some years back but that didn’t put an end to his dream of becoming an entrepreneur someday.

A bilateral amputee, hailing from Narasaraopet in Andhra Pradesh, Nareddula believes he can accomplish anything that he sets his mind to. He said after losing his limbs to the accident, he began researching every idea he had at the time to follow his passion of bike-riding and set up his own venture, among others.

Read | Students with intellectual disability hit hard by Covid-19 lockdown

“I began questioning my ideas rigorously until I could figure out a plan to achieve it. A continuous effort to understand the things that suit me took much time. I consider every piece of learning in this phase to be achievements in the way of fulfilling my desire to be independent. I never called myself a disabled person. I am a differently-abled person,” Nareddula said.

He said being a part of the IT industry, in different capacities, for several years, helped him achieve steady growth and learn new skills along the way. He added that he wishes to leverage his skills in product management to make an actual impact in this space.

Vivekananda Nareddula, a first-year student at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (Photo credit: IIM Bangalore)

“In the long term, I see himself as an entrepreneur contributing to the development of creative and innovative product solutions to real-time problems being faced in the society,” said Naredulla, one of the specially-abled students in the 2020-22 batch at IIMB.

While IIMB has 46 specially-abled students across courses at present, officials claim that the institution’s estate office is in continuous pursuit towards making the entire campus disabled-friendly.

“Lecture rooms, faculty blocks and common areas are accessible to all. Several hostel rooms have been modified to ensure students using wheelchairs can access them without trouble. In case a caregiver needs to stay with the student, there are special accommodations for them. We also provide motorised wheelchairs for students with locomotor disability,” an official from the IIMB Office of Inclusion & Diversity said.

Deepti Kansal, a first-year MBA student, said she has refused to let her disability be a stumbling block to achieving the goals that she has set for herself.

Speaking to indianexpress.com on the sidelines of the International Day of Disabled Persons observed on Thursday, Kansal said her different approach towards life keeps her motivated.

“Someone once told me to never let the knots in your life restrict your movement, both physically and mentally. Struggles are a part of life and you must embrace them wholeheartedly and keep moving ahead,” she said.

Continuing treatment after being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, Kansal wishes to work in the financial services industry after completing her MBA.

While making it to the country’s premier management institute continues to be a challenge for disabled IIM aspirants, Alok Ranjan did not let his dreams die in a wheelchair. He got a call from all the top-three IIMs – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta. He met with an accident in 2012 which left him paralysed from neck down.

Ranjan, who hails from Bihar, said that the long period of rehabilitation helped him learn new skills and also prepare for the Common Admission Test (CAT), which is taken by MBA aspirants across the country. “Constant encouragement from family and friends egged me on. From accessible accommodation, classrooms to help from scribes for exams and note-takers for lectures, I have got every possible help here. Even when everything moved online during the coronavirus-induced-lockdown, I continued receiving support,” he added.

The second-year PGP student plans to launch a social enterprise to help the specially-abled, women and children.

Officials at IIMB said the needs of specially-abled students are also taken care of by a dedicated team. “While notes in accessible formats are provided to visually-impaired students before class, iPads and laptops, which can be synchronised to the classroom desktops, are also provided. For hearing-impaired students, we provide transcripts and videos of lectures and request the faculty to face them when they speak,” Prof. Srinivasan Rangan, Chair, Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at IIMB, said.

He added that tutors, scribes, and note-takers are also provided to students who need them.

Officials added that the IIMB reserves at least 5 per cent of seats for persons with benchmark disabilities in accordance with the Right of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016.

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