Mani says when he lost vision, it seemed like the world had ended.

news Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30

Dhanya Rajendran| The News Minute| June 24, 2014| 3.50 PM

He was the most brilliant student in his school, winning laurels one after the other. Things went horribly wrong when he was in 5th standard… A weak nerve in the eyes was completely damaged and Mani lost his vision. Having lived some years since his birth in a village in Kasargod district of Kerala that was aerially sprayed with the deadly insecticide Endosulfan, Mani was told that the damage in his eye was due to sustained exposure to Endosulfan.

Mani is like hundreds of others in Kasargod and nearby areas. They have faced many health issues, but the Kerala government is still undecided whether to include them in the list of Endosulfan victims. Cases have been going on in many courts for years and even recently the government has asked for more time to compile the final table.

As 21-year-old Mani waits for the Kerala government’s decision, there is one more thing that is making him uneasy. Mani is one among 46 students chosen for the Integrated MA course by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. But his admission seems uncertain now as he has no means to pay the fees and is awaiting the IIT’s decision on whether they can give him a concession.

“I have always wanted to study humanities. There is no better institution than the IIT I believe. The fear that I may not get a chance like this ever again is worrying me.”

Mani’s father Kannan is a construction worker, and mother Vilasini is a coolie.

Mani says when he lost vision, it seemed like the world had ended. “It was very difficult. I did not know how to even cope with it. I stopped going to school for two years. Slowly I learnt to live without vision. It was all new for me. Braille took time to learn. Then I studied high school.

So why Humanities and why IIT? “I aspire to be a civil services officer. Political theory fascinates me. When I was in high school a teacher told me that I should prepare for Civil Services. I used to scan books in the library… then using available software, these were transferred to voice files. I have read many books like that and prepared for this exam for many months,” he says.

I asked Mani if he needed help to pay his fee and other expenses that could come up to three lakhs in 5 years, but he said no. “I hope IIT will give me concession.”

“What if IIT doesn’t,” I asked, “Then I will need help. I don’t know if I will ever get another opportunity,” Mani said.

Read Dilip and Devi Kiran's story- Endosulfan Children: Poisoned and Blinded, They Sing and Laugh at Life

Endosulfan- The deadly insecticide which acts as a contact poison has been banned following public outcries and parental outrage, the devastation trail of the chemical – banned 10 years ago – has claimed many young victims. For a quarter of a century, indiscriminate aerial spraying of the poison to increase agricultural productivity has resulted in a generation of children being born with birth defects. The push to save the cashew plantations has resulted in contaminated soil, water resources, wildlife depletion and permanent health damage to communities in Kasargod.

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