Pratyush Nalam is finally where he always wanted to be: the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B). But unlike other students, who will get hostel rooms at the Powai campus, the 17-year-old first year computer science student will live with his family in one of the institute’s staff quarters for the first six months.
Suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disorder, Nalam moves around in a wheelchair and needs a full-time attendant. With a rank of 408 in the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), Nalam is possibly one of the first physically-challenged candidates to feature so high up on the common merit list.
Usually, physical disability (PD) quota students make it to the IITs after a 50% relaxation of the general cut-off.
Nalam’s father, a coast guard commander, has been transferred from Vizag to Mumbai. But commuting within the city will be tough for Pratyush. “I was hoping he could have a hostel experience, but the hostel rooms do not have attached bathrooms,” said his mother, Srilakshmi. “I wish the IITs were more disabled-friendly.”
“It is entirely up Pratyush if he wants to live in the hostel. His family can live here for six months after which, they will have to make other arrangements,” said Prakash Gopalan, dean of student affairs, IIT-B.