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Saga of a visionary

What if he is visually-challenged, Sudhakar challenged the fate, says G.V.Ramana Rao


THE MERE mention that somebody is a Ph.D from JNU is enough to make people exclaim WOW! FANTASTIC! GREAT! T.V.G.N.S Sudhakar, a boy born and brought up in Vijayawada, is a proud holder of the degree.

He is also on the faculty of the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, a pioneer legal educational institution in the country. Sudhakar is not like others. He is special in one way and gifted in many others.

Like any other bright and studious boy, he did his intermediate (plus-two) and degree from Saptagiri College, one of the several aided colleges in the City. Took his law degree from the Siddartha Law College. And, did his LLM at Nagarjuna University campus college.

Continuing his studies, he went on to take the Jawarharlal Nehru University entrance test and got selected for the M.Phil programme.

Like the other degrees, M.Phil was in the bag of his kitty with a little trouble. His thesis on ''Protection of Human Rights in Non-International Armed Conflicts and the Emerging International Criminal Law'' got him the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D).

Even before Sudhakar got his Ph.D, he became a member of the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) in Kolkota. Time to see what is so special about Sudhakar. Talluri Venkatachala Gowthama Naga Surya Sudhakar is a visually challenged person.

A victim of retinal pigmentosa his vision began to fade when he was about 13. Over a period of three years, Sudhakar's world began to collapse, even though every treatment possible was being tried to arrest the process of deterioration. Sudhakar's father, an advocate by profession, T.P.Sarma, says "we took him to the best eye specialists, but they said there was no hope and we gave up.'' Sudhakar's mother, Vijaya Prabhamani, was not one to give up so easily.

An educated woman, herself she simply put her eyes at her son's disposal. She read lessons to begin with. Then text books. The flow never ended.

Newspapers, magazines, guides, reference books and finally the endless number of law journals. They were two people with one heart and a single pair of eyes.

"My mother was an inspiration me and a tremendous support. My father is an advocate and I knew the problems of the profession and never wanted to get into it. But my mother who is from a family of lawyers herself helped me overcome the fear of entering into it. She read to me and even recorded cassettes which I listened to while preparing for examinations. By the time I finished my M.Phil she recorded over 1,000 cassettes,'' says Sudhakar to explain the effort his mother put in.

In JNU, however, Sudhakar had to fend for himself. A faculty member at the M.Phil entrance interview wondered if Sudhakar would be able to find the support needed, because much reading was involved.

Thanks to a few friends, computers, JNU's Compact Disc library and screen reading software, Sudhakar finished with flying colours from one of the premier institutions of the country.

After completing his degrees in JNU, Sudhakar applied for a teaching vacancy in his alma mater in Vijayawada. He was called for the interview, but was refused the job on the grounds that he would not be able to handle the students with his handicap.

As if to prove them wrong, Sudhakar became a faculty member in one of the prestigious institutes in the country.

History is full of visually challenged persons who have excelled in their fields doing better than their fortunate colleagues. Louis Braille of the 19th century, who was also visually challenged invented a system to help the blind read and write.

Sudhakar, the Braille of the 21st century has shown that Braille is the be all and end for the visually handicapped.

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