He manages two businesses in Kolkata, is the author of several well-known books, and has been honoured with several awards. He is also India 's first visually impaired chartered accountant. Meet Dilip Loyalka, a self-made man.
Dilip Loyalka's visual impairment has not made any difference to his life. On the other hand, his life has been a source of unending inspiration to others. By his own example, he teaches them the meaning of confidence and independence, and the value of determination and hard work.
He was born on December 30, 1958 , and his eyesight was bad since birth due to retinitis pigmentosa. His continuously fading eyesight meant that he was unable to read the blackboard in school. By Std. VI, he could not see at all - he had to have his question papers read to him. By Std. VIII he needed a writer to write for him.
"I was very fortunate that my best friends would sit with me in class, especially from Std. VII onwards, and make carbon copies of all their notes in class," reminiscences Mr. Loyalka. "I would take the copies home and have them read out to me. I was also always provided with a writer."
He remembers that after he finished his Std. XI exams, he told his father that he wanted to become a Chartered Accountant (C.A.). In fact, his choice of profession was inspired by his father. (His father, uncle, brothers-in-law and many cousins are all C.A.s) "My family was dead set against my joining the course," he says. "They thought I would never be able to complete it because of my blindness." But complete it he did - with flying colours. First he did his graduation in B.Com.; then he finished the C.A. course in about three years, becoming India 's first visually impaired chartered accountant in 1983. He then did his Articleship with a chartered accountancy firm. He also passed his L.L.B. (Law) exams in 1984.
When he enrolled at the Institute, he remembers that there was no arrangement for a blind student. "Though the Institute agreed to provide me with a writer, they stipulated that he must be from a non-commerce background. It took a fair amount of convincing to let them allow me a writer with a B.Com. background."
He also had a reader to help him with books and text. He would record lectures on cassettes and memorise them afterwards.
In 1985, his father saw an advertisement in the newspaper, asking for applications for petrol pumps, in the Reserved category. He told his son to apply. Again, there was opposition from family members. Relatives felt that Mr. Loyalka's handling cash transactions, that too in lakhs of rupees, would be extremely risky. They also said people would take advantage of his visual impairment. "I explained to them that if I earned Rs. 10 to 15 lakh, and incurred losses of even Rs. 2 or 3 lakh, I would still be making a profit!" And, of course, he said, we need to trust more in human nature. His logic carried weight, the 'relative opposition' died down, and he was allotted a petrol pump.
Called 'Prince Service Station' and situated on Anwar Shah Road , his petrol pump is one of the most profitable in Kolkata. It had a turnover of nearly Rs. 15 crore one year!
He is a respected Partner at J. Loyalka and Company, one of Kolkata's reputed chartered accountancy firms.
So how does he manage two businesses? He reveals his daily schedule: "I am at the petrol pump every morning from 8 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. I check up on what has been sold; the earnings are dispatched to the bank. All the sales transactions are entered on a computer, all statutory books are recorded, so it is easy for me keep track and manage work. Before I leave, I make sure that displays on boards have been updated, indents have been placed and the day's instructions are in order."
Then Mr. Loyalka works in his office from 11 a.m. to about 6 p.m. , doing what C.A.s do. His firm handles many well-known corporations as well as individuals. His visual impairment is not an issue with his clients, and he has committed and loyal staff members to see to everyday things.
His day is not over yet. He is back at the petrol pump from 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. - checking on how the day has been, seeing to the financial aspects, and getting the pump ready for another day.
Mr. Loyalka's hectic schedule does not prevent him from enjoying his creative interests. He had been a regular contributor to journals and had been presenting papers at seminars when the editor of a Hindi newspaper approached him. "The newspaper was called 'Chhapte-Chhapte'." he says. "I wrote a column called 'Aapke prashan, hamaare uttar' [literally, 'Your questions, our answers'], which was in a question-answer format, on Income Tax." He had been writing the column for one-and-a-half years when his editor suggested that Mr. Loyalka should be writing books on the subject.
That idea took root, and today he has co-authored four books on Income Tax. 'Practical Guide to V.D.I.S.', published in 1997, is an excellent book on V.D.I.S. rules and regulations. A book in Hindi, called 'Kaise suljhaye aayker samasyaye', received an award from the Central Board of Direct Taxes. Yet another, 'How to handle Income Tax problems', is extremely popular; it is into its 13 th edition.
The process for bringing out successive, updated editions is quite grueling. Every week, Mr. Loyalka gets journals on taxes. These have High Court decisions regarding Income Tax from across the country. Some of these may be follow-ups of older cases, some are new cases, and some are unusual ones. In addition, he keeps track of other developments in the area: new circulars, Financial Acts, Income Tax amendments. His sound knowledge of the law, an area most C.A.s ignore, gives his work an unbeatable edge.
He has two readers who help him with all the material. Mr. Loyalka keeps adding his notes in one copy, with the help of the readers. Through most of the year, they work one hour daily, sifting through the tomes. From March 1 to June they put in four to five hours daily. A typist then keys in the changes into the manuscript and it is packed off to the printer.
Once the President of India gives his assent to the Finance Bill, it becomes an Act. Mr. Loyalka and his team then work overtime to bring out the new edition as fast as possible.
Mr. Loyalka's spirit has earned him many acclamations and awards. In 2002, the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, presented him with the Best Professional Handicapped Person award. In 2000, the Rotary Club of Calcutta Inner City conferred on him the Paul Harris title for his contribution to the cause of blind welfare. The Indian Oil Corporation too has showered him with awards; notable among them are his being made a Gold Circle member by the Kolkata Divisional Office, and another one for achieving second-highest growth in 2004.
A former Vice President of the West Bengal Branch of the National Association for the Blind, he is now the organisation's General Secretary. He is also the General Secretary of the Welfare Society for the Visually Handicapped.
Happily married to Veena for about 23 years, he has two children. His was an arranged marriage and his wife "prepared herself thoroughly". She says, "It has not been easy, but Dilip is a 'normal' person. He is fiercely independent and handles himself very well."