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Friday, 25 December 2015

'Disability not an obstacle if you have a goal' - Vishakhapatnam

Helen Keller, who was visually challenged, said that the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. Kumara Somasekhar, a lecturer from Vizag, has proved that he has vision even though he lost his sight. He has two PhDs in history and law from Andhra University. The 48-year-old gold medalist is currently working as a lecturer in the department of history at Dr VS Krishna Government Degree College (autonomous). Somasekhar, who missed the opportunity of being a group I officer despite qualifying in all subjects due to his disability, speaks to V Kamalakara Rao of TOI about the dark side of life including the obstacles and discrimination he faced in his personal, educational and professional spheres.

Q) How did you lose your sight?

I was born in Kakinada in East Godavari district. My father hailed from Srikakulam. I was not visually impaired by birth, but I became partially blind when sticks of a broom stuck my eyes during Dasara celebrations when I was three. By the time I was six, I lost sight in both the eyes. Doctors said I will never be able to see again.

Q) How did you succeed in studies?

My schooling was done in the Government High School for the Blind, Darul Shifa, Hyderabad. I completed my intermediate and degree from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. I used to depend on the Braille script till class X and then on audio gadgets. Of course, this led to a hearing problem due to excessive use of headphones for studies.

Q) What about the academic life in Andhra University (AU)?

I joined AU to pursue my Masters in History from where I got my PhD too. Later, I pursued my Masters in Law in the same university where I won a gold medal in 2000. This part, I also got a PhD in law. Simultaneously, I prepared for competitive exams and the national eligibility test (NET).

Q) What about your professional skills?

I would have been a high rank officer now had the state government not rejected me in the group-I exams. The government rejected my candidature even though I qualified in the exams including prelims and mains in 1995. In May 2004, the government offered me the post of a lecturer in the direct recruitment for Government Degree College at Narsannapeta in Srikakulam district. In October 2014, I was transferred to Dr VS Krishna Degree College in the city where I am teaching history. In 1988, I qualified for the IGNOU lecturership through an all India entrance test. Of the 743 candidates, only 43 qualified that year. Out of that 43, I was the only one from united Andhra Pradesh.

Q) Is 'disability' an obstacle?

Disability matters physically. It is not an obstacle if we have a strong passion for the goal we set. Of course, the disabled can't do all the things that other people can, but they can do it differently. I faced many hurdles including financial problems and social discrimination in the past 45 years as a blind man, but in my heart I never feel disability.

Q) How supportive are the staff and students in the college?

The college staff and students are very supportive. My department lecturers, including Narayana, Nagamani, Ramesh Babu and Ramalakshmi, are very co-operative. Some of the students are also very attached to me. I have to thank all these people for making me feel at home.

Source : TOI,21st Dec 2015 

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