Visually impaired Delhi student Kartik Sawhney has repeatedly been denied permission to appear for the IIT-JEE in the past three years because of his disability. However, in March 2013, he was awarded a fully funded scholarship to pursue engineering at Stanford University in the US. This is his story.
On May 27, 2013, when 18-year-old Kartik Sawhney scored 96 per cent in his Class 12 CBSE examination, he became the country’s first ever visually impaired student to have achieved the feat in the science stream.
Appearing from Delhi Public School, RK Puram, he scored 99 in computer science (his favourite subject) and 95 each in English, mathematics, physics and chemistry; his total is 479 out of 500.
Recalling some of the challenges, he says, “Studying with normal students wasn’t easy, and neither was choosing a stream of my choice.”
Determination and perseverance are the key factors to his success — he simply would not take no for an answer.
“A lot of people think that disabilities limits you from doing certain things. But I think success comes to those who believe in their strengths,” he states.
Sawhney, who comes from a middle class family — his father Ravinder Sawhney is a businessman and mother Indu Sawhney a homemaker — confesses that aiming high and making tough decisions at every stage was still easier than executing them.
For three years in a row, he has been denied permission to appear for the IIT-JEE; he was told that there is no provision for blind students to take the competitive exam. But he did not lose hope and applied to universities abroad.
And in March 2013, Sawhney received a fully funded scholarship to pursue a five-year engineering programme at Stanford University. Once armed with this degree, he intends to “improve the condition of visually impaired back in India”.
In this interview, the inspiring young man discusses the many challenges he’s faced to come this far, what miffs him about the Indian administration and tells us what keeps him going.