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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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