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First international blind student in Brain and Cognitive Science and Business at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

First-international-blind-student-in-Brain-and-Cognitive-Science-and-Business-at-Massachusetts-Institute-of-Technology

On July 7, 1992, Srikanth Bolla was born blind in a small village called Sitaramapuram in Andhra Pradesh, where illiteracy is rampant and being born blind is a considered sin. Born to parents who refused to give him up, Srikanth not only managed to finish his education from MIT University, but also created a Rs. 70 crores company.

At the age of 7, Srikanth moved away from home, learned Braille, English and how to use a computer. He topped his 10th board exams and decided to study Science instead of Arts, as was expected from a blind student. Adamant to study only Science, Srikanth filed a case against the Andhra Pradesh Board of Secondary Education, which refused to admit a blind student to the Science stream. He won the case and finished his 12th boards securing 98%.

However, he wasn’t done yet. Refusing to bow down, he applied to universities in the United States, after he was denied the admit card to write the Indian Institute of Technology entrance exam. Not only was his application accepted in the U.S., he was accepted in 4 of the most prestigious colleges in the world today, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT,) Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. He was the first international blind student to be given a place in MIT.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he started a center with the staff for the visually challenged to learn computer skills through a 10 week computer course. After completing his education from the MIT, the prodigal son returned to India with an intention to make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from disabilities.

He first started a nonprofit organisation, Samanvai, for students with multiple disabilities. Samanvai aims to provide individualised, need based goal oriented support services for students with disabilities to get a proper education. Around 3,000 students have been helped, nurtured and mentored by Srikanth through Samanvai.

In 2012, he decided to take the next big step for the betterment of not just unskilled laborers and disabled people, but also for the environment. This step was the establishment of Bollant Industries Pvt., Ltd., which had a threefold purpose. First, to help unskilled and uneducated disabled people, second, to encash agricultural waste from the farmers and finally, stop environmental degradation because of the excess use of plastic and Styrofoam.

Today, Bollant Industries has 5 manufacturing plants which produce eco friendly products such as areca leaf plates, cups, trays and dinnerware. They also manufacture betel plates and disposable plates, spoons, cups, adhesives and printing products. Manufacturing giant Ratan Tata also invested an undisclosed amount in the Company and Srini Raju of Peepul Capital and Satish Reddy of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories are a part of the Company’s Board. India’s top angel investor, Ravi Mantha, not only invested in Srikanth’s mission, but also became his mentor and is presently the director and financial advisor of Bollant Industries.

Bollant Industries sales crossed 70 million per year and employs over 150 disabled individuals catering to local and international customers. An inspiration to many people around the world, Srikanth Bolla believes, if you do something good, it will come back to you.

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