It's not commonplace to be visually challenged and then crack India's toughest management entrance test or become a professor of philosophy at a reputed university. But two Jaipur women have done just that.
Vinita Nair, an assistant professor of philosophy at University of Rajasthan, and Paridhi Verma, a postgraduate student at the Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow, lost their sight gradually. Now, Nair is left with 5% vision while Verma has 10%.
This year, 34-year-old Nair fought a legal battle to get her appointment in the university, and Verma, 19, entered the hallowed portals of the IIM, becoming the youngest person in her batch.
Nair completed an MPhil and a PhD degree and was teaching in private colleges when the Rajasthan University advertised for the post of assistant professors in November 2012.
For six posts in the philosophy department, there was just one unreserved post, and she claimed it as a person with a disability, but the university's administration refused her the job.
Paridhi Verma with her parents.
Nair fought several battles, from the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disability (CCPD) to the Rajasthan high court, and finally in the Supreme Court. And she won everywhere.
Verma, on the other hand, has battled homesickness in her Lucknow hostel. Nair has looked after herself for long, but Verma was away from her parents for the first time.
"At home, they were there to do things for me. Here I have to do everything on my own. In just two months, I fractured a ligament when I got hit by my bed," said Verma, speaking to Hindustan Times on phone from Lucknow.
Nair studied with a magnifying glass all her life but Verma had a "reader" at home.
"One of my juniors came home to read for me, one to two hours every day, for about three months. I couldn't study without a reader," she said.
And with those two hours of daily studies, she cracked the Common Admission Test to gain admission to an IIM. During that time, she also studied for her bachelor's degree at the IIS University in Jaipur.
IIM-Lucknow has appointed a reader for Verma, who spends four hours every day with her. "The pressure of academics is very much here, but I am coping. I need to be a good manager before I can be a good administrator," she said.
Verma wants to be a civil servant in the future. "But before that, I want to also see how the corporate world treats a person like me."