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'If IIT didn't want me, I didn't want IIT either': The inspirational journey of Srikanth Bolla – Business Today

Born blind to a rice farmer family in Seetharamapuram in Andhra Pradesh’s Machilipatnam district, Srikanth Bolla’s parents were advised to get rid of him because some of his relatives felt he would be of ‘no use’ to them in their old age. 
But fate had other plans. Bolla went on to study business management science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, as the first international blind student ever to be admitted with 100 per cent financial aid. 
The 32-year-old is now the CEO of Bollant Industries, an organisation that manufactures eco-friendly, disposable consumer packaging solutions, in which Ratan Tata has a stake.

Bolla’s inspirational journey is being chronicled in a biopic with actor Rajkummar Rao in lead. 
The film releases on May 10.  Bolla is living by his word that if the “world looks at me and says, ‘Srikanth, you can do nothing,’ I look back at the world and say I can do anything.”
Rejected by schools
Bolla’s school did not allow him to study science and maths because of a state law that said it would be challenging for blind students like Bolla to work with diagrams and graphs.
He was advised to study arts, languages, literature and social sciences.
A frustrated Bolla took the board to court, taking a teacher’s help. He won the case. The court ruled blind students can study science and maths in their senior years at all state board schools in Andhra Pradesh.
But it was just the beginning of his many tussles to the top. 
After averaging 98% in his exams, he decided to apply for India’s prestigious engineering colleges — the IITs. 
But the coaching schools he approached were unwilling. “I was told by top coaching institutes that the course load would be like pouring rain on a small sapling,” he told BBC in an interview. “But I have no regrets. If IIT didn’t want me, I didn’t want IIT either.”
Bolla applied to universities in US instead and bagged five offers, settling for MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a fitting reply for being ignored at PT class in his school, Bolla represented India in cricket and played chess at national level. 
Srikanth returned to Hyderabad in 2012 to build Bollant Industries. His firm makes eco-friendly products and employs differently abled people. Bollant has four production plants, one each in Hubli (Karnataka) and Nizamabad (Telangana), and two in Hyderabad (Telangana)
Bolla was also named in the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders 2021 list.

Copyright©2024 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today
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