How Andhra students' hopes of attending IIT were realized thanks to a WhatsApp SOS to Nara Lokesh

A heartwarming story has emerged from Andhra Pradesh, where an SOS WhatsApp message from a student received a swift reply from the state's Education Minister, Nara Lokesh, helping a group of disabled students secure their dreams of studying in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Twenty-five students from Andhra Pradesh were left dejected after being barred from admission to prestigious engineering colleges across India, including the IITs and NITs, despite excelling in their entrance examinations. The reason was that Andhra Pradesh has four subjects for disabled students in the 12th Boards, while the IITs require scores from five subjects.

The newly appointed Human Resources Development Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Lokesh, became their savior with his prompt response to the student who reached out to him.

This story began with Vijayawada-based student Maruthi Prithvi Satyadev, who earned the 170th rank in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced exams in the Persons with Disability (PwD) category, making him eligible for a seat at IIT Madras. However, Prithvi Satyadev's joy was short-lived when his application was rejected by IIT Madras.

As per Andhra Pradesh Board of Intermediate Education (BIE) norms, disabled students are exempted from studying and appearing for one of the two required language papers. Consequently, Satyadev and the other students did not opt for a second language examination, and thus, received an 'E' (Exemption) on their marksheets. This exemption, intended to ease the academic burden, became a significant hurdle for the students.

"I secured a seat in IIT Chennai. Because of some technical issue with my intermediate marksheet, my seat had been cancelled. I immediately texted our honorable Minister Sir Nara Lokesh. I had heard in podcasts that he takes a special interest in education. He responded within half an hour and issued a Government Order to us within a week," Maruthi Prithvi Satyadev told the media.

Nara Lokesh, known for his accessibility and responsiveness, immediately took action, contacting Satyadev and his father to understand the issue thoroughly. He then summoned BIE officials, instructing them to replace the 'E' with 35 marks on the certificates of all affected specially-abled students. The Andhra Pradesh Government also issued a Government Order to validate the change in their marksheets. The Stanford-educated minister also got his officials to communicate with IIT Chennai to expedite the process.

With the GO in hand, Satyadev's admission to IIT Chennai was confirmed, along with the admissions of the 24 other specially-abled students.

Days later, when all 25 students visited Lokesh at his residence in Amaravati to thank him, Lokesh felicitated them, gifting each student a high-configuration Dell laptop.

"I was initially very depressed to realize that I could not fulfill my IIT dream. But within days, Nara Lokesh Sir helped us and helped us get our seats back. He wished us well, motivated, and assured us of job opportunities in the years to come," said a student who had been chosen for Computer Science Engineering at IIT Guwahati.

"We approached Lokesh Sir regarding this problem. I'm happy that I'm able to say proudly I'm going to IIT," another student, Snehita, told India Today TV.

Days later, while hosting and facilitating the 25 students at his Amaravati residence, Nara Lokesh emphasized his belief in "abilities, not disabilities."

"Everyone is equal, and everyone deserves equal opportunities. I am happy to have helped these brilliant youngsters secure their IIT seats. I wish them all the best!" said the HRD minister.

This swift move by Nara Lokesh underscored the impact a responsive and humane government can have in creating a level-playing field for its citizens. Lokesh's proactive approach and swift decision-making not only resolved an immediate crisis but also set a commendable example for handling discrepancies in marksheets.

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