“I have always been lucky,” beams 21-year-old Naga Naresh Karuturi who will get his B Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras on July 25. One look at this engineering graduate, however, will tell you that the boy has been anything but lucky.
Naresh’s legs were amputated at the age of seven after he met with a freak accident. After the incident his sister, Sirisha, carried him around in school. In class III, Naresh got his wheelchair. After that his sister began pushing his wheelchair to the school and his friends carried him wherever he wanted to go. It was only much later that Naresh resolved to move around without any assistance.
Born to unlettered parents and into a family where no one had completed higher studies, this IIT graduate first heard of the premier institution when he was in class VII. The news was that a senior at school had joined the reputed Gowtham Junior College in Vijayawada that was popular for producing state ranks and also IIT entrants. Naresh won an entry into the same college.
“It was an expensive residential school and cost Rs 50,000 per student per year. My father could have never afforded that, but for the scholarships. I was lucky again there,” he says with modesty.
From class VII to XII, Naresh’s fees at the residential college were met through scholarships. Later, Naresh was glad for having earned a seat at Gowtham Junior College. “The college segregated students into those who would be trained for the IITs, AIEEE, and other exams. I was lucky to have studied in such an atmosphere,” he adds.
Looking back at all those hours of hard work that went into cracking the IIT entrance, Naresh says he couldn’t have carried on without the help of his friends. “I was blessed in having helpful roommates like Sitarama Raju with whom I used to do study.”
The 21-year-old’s stay in halls and rooms of the Gowtham Junior College was his first outside home. “At home, I was very dependent on my folks. They even moved to Vijayawada to be near me all the time,” says Naresh. Soon, his father, Prasad taught him the importance of being independent. “Since then, I began to push the wheelchair myself and crawled my way to the classroom,” he says.
But sending him to a new place and letting him be on his own was difficult for his family. Naresh’s father, a lorry driver, says: “We were a bit scared for him but never let that fear show. We always knew he could do it.”
“We also visited him often enough at Vijayawada to make sure that he never gave up,” adds his mother, Kumari, a homemaker.
Naresh strongly feels that fate has been kind to him. “Look at it this way. Just a year before I joined, IIT Madras turned wheelchair-friendly. Moreover, the institution donated this electric wheelchair when I was in the II year. This is the best thing to have happened to me. I have Prof Idichandy, dean, students at IIT Madras, and the student general secretary Prasad to thank for this,” he says, breaking into a smile.
Professor Pandurangan, under whose guidance Naresh works, says the latter never expects special care and is always pleasant. “He is the gem of our lab,” says the professor, who heads the theoretical science laboratory.
Naresh, who has always been interested in algorithms and graph theory, will join Google R&D in Bangalore as a software engineer on July 28. “It (the selection process) was an elaborate one, but I got through. I told you, I am always lucky,” he sums up.
Courtesy :- The Times Of India