Bangalore campus attracts several students living with disabilities
The vast campus of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) will welcome a fresh batch of 400 Postgraduate Programme (PGP) students on Thursday. However, a few students have arrived early to attend the voluntary preparatory classes.
Two among them are chatting like old friends even though they met only a few weeks ago. “This is the first time we are being interviewed,” they say, surprised, excited, and seemingly oblivious to their success. After all, gaining entry into the hallowed corridors of IIMB is no cakewalk.
Bengalurean Kunal Mehta, 24, is visually impaired. After completing his initial years of school in an institution for the visually impaired, his parents shifted him to a “regular” school only in Class 8. His father is in the automobile spare parts business and his mother is a homemaker.
“My parents were apprehensive about my joining a school for regular children. However, in high school, everyone is a little more mature, so I did not face a problems,” he recalls. He goes on to add how he shifted into management studies for undergraduation after taking up arts in pre-university in a reputed college in the city to nurse his love for the stock markets and finance.
Mr. Mehta was then successfully recruited to a top multinational finance company. Two years down the line however, his thirst to learn more caught up with him. “I started preparing for competitive exams such as the Common Admission Test (CAT),” he says. He managed to clear the test in his second attempt with an impressive 97.7 percentile.
Joining IIMB is a big leap for Himanshu Mittal, 23, who has spent all his life in Faridabad. This is his first time in the south of India. for Unlike his new classmate, whom he playfully calls a ‘rockstar’, Mr. Mittal attended a regular school. In 2012, soon after he was admitted to an engineering college to study computer science, a life-changing incident occurred. “I slipped and fell while playing Holi . I was paralysed from the neck down and ended up in the hospital for almost five months. My rehabilitation took two years,” he said.
The accident left Mr. Mittal wheelchair-bound with 90% locomotor disability, forcing him to opt out of the engineering course as it involved practicals. But he did not give up. He enrolled himself in a BCA course immediately and started helping with the family business – a departmental store and the manufacture of edible oils – after graduation. “There is very little awareness about the needs of persons with disabilities. My father put up a ramp in the store after my accident,” he said.
The aspiration to start his own business in the food processing space started taking shape and he attempted the CAT, acing it in his first attempt with a 99.55 percentile.
The IIMB has over 20 students in the two PGP classes with various kinds and stages of disabilities. For students such as Mr. Mehta and Mr. Mittal, this is their first time away from home and family. Provisions have been made in the accommodation of students with special needs. “I will be staying with a caretaker,” says Mr. Mittal. “I am looking forward to the exposure we will get in the next two years,” Mr. Mehta adds.