Srikanth Bolla was born blind into a family of farmers in rural India – and went on to become the first international blind student at MIT, where he studied business management. Post-MIT, Bolla chose to return to India where he set up Bollant Industries in Hyderabad, a company that employs and trains differently-abled individuals to manufacture eco-friendly and compostable packaging. The company has been a recipient of an undisclosed investment funding from Ratan Tata believed to be around $1.3 million.
Srikanth Bolla’s life was never easy. He faced discrimination because of his disability all his life. When he was born blind, the villagers in Sitaramapuram in Andhra Pradesh advised his farmer parents to let him die. His parents, to their credit, paid no heed. At school too, he would often be pushed to the last bench and would not be included in active sports. Yet, this didn’t deter Srikanth, who excelled in studies and topped the Class 10 board exams in his school. At the Intermediate level, when he wanted to opt for Science, the Andhra Pradesh Education Board refused to grant permission. It said that Arts was what the only stream the blind could take up. Srikanth filed a case and, after a six month wait, the Board agreed to let him pursue Science. Srikanth topped his Class 12, securing a 98%.
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