Blind to live

by Michelle Fortes

Srikanth Bolla was born blind. The villagers advised his parents, who
were farmers to let him die. His parents did not listen. They choose
to educate him. At school, he was pushed to the last bench. No one
would include him in sports.
Later he was admitted in school for special children. Here he started
topping his class and also played chess and cricket. He topped the
class 10 board exams in his school. He wanted to opt for science at
the higher secondary level but the Andhra Pradesh Education Board
refused him permission. It said that the blind could only take Arts
stream. Srikanth filed a case and after six months, he was allowed to
pursue Science. Srikanth topped class 12 too.

He wanted to study engineering at the Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT). But yet again, he was rejected. Srikanth decided,
“If IIT doesn’t want me, I don’t want IIT either!” He applied to
schools in the United States and got admission in four of the top
schools – MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. He
eventually chose MIT and became the school’s first international
blind student.
After graduating from MIT, Srikanth decided to do something about
the problems faced by the disabled in our country. He gave up the
opportunity to work for a high paying job in America and returned to
India. He started Bollant Industries Pvt. Ltd., with the aim of
providing employment to the physically challenged.
The company makes eco-friendly, disposable plates, spoons, cups
and trays out of natural leaf and recycled paper. Bollant Industries is
valued at over Rs. 400 crore. Today, Srikanth has five factories,
employing over 650 people, nearly half of whom are disabled men
and women.

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