CUDDALORE: On the crowded racetrack of NEET aspirants, 17-year-old P Banupriya trudged alone. While students armed with expensive coaching and smart gadgets sprinted past her, this physically disabled Dalit girl from a government school in Cuddalore had to cross several hurdles, one after another, to step past the finishing line.
She is among the only three disabled students from government schools in Tamil Nadu to have cleared the highly competitive nationallevel medical entrance test this time. Banupriya suffered severe disability on her left leg in an accident when she was still a child.
“My parents had to struggle a lot to take care of my medical expenses. However, they always motivated me to study,” says Banupriya, who is a student of the Government Higher Secondary School at Pudunagar in Vadalur. Being inspired is one thing and having the means to aspire is another thing. Sadly, for Banupriya, they never came hand-in-hand.
Three disabled students from State clear exam
Private coaching was out of question as her father, a wire man in the electricity board, was already struggling to make the ends meet.
“The coaching classes at my school were helpful, but then came the lockdown,” says the girl, adding that she became very anxious when online classes started.
“I didn’t have a smartphone. I was able to take online lessons only after my English teacher pitched-in half the amount to purchase a smartphone,” she says.
According to the Directorate of School Education, three differently abled students from government schools in Tamil Nadu have cleared the NEET, which had a cut-off mark of 113 for the disabled category.
While Banupriya secured 116, Kishore Kumar from Tiruvallur district secured 201 marks and NN Dharshana from Kanniyakumari clocked 157.
As clearing the NEET doesn’t necessarily assure an MBBS seat, Banupriya still has to wait for the results of a physical test to know if she can get admission in a government medical college.
Based one her disability percentage and the reservation she is entitled to — Banupriya belongs to Dalit community — the chances of she walking into a government medical college will be determined.
“I am glad that my hard work paid off. I hope to land in a good college and become a doctor. I want to make my parents proud,” she says with confidence.