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Inspiring Indians

Manjunatha receiving his Ph.D in Political Science from his holiness Dalai Lama during the convocation held at Mysore University recently.

Living in the dark, he saw his calling to chase doctoral dreams

By Shivendra Urs | FEB 2017

For many of us, when the much evasive hope arrives in darkness, we do not even feel it. But for visually-impaired Manjunatha C., hope had nothing to do with a rare feat he achieved, armed with only his grit and determination.

A PhD scholar in Political Science, Manjunatha received his doctorate from the hands of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at the University of Mysore during the 97th convocation which was held in December 2016.

Born to Chandrachari and Susheelamma, both daily wage labourers, living in Kathikyathanahalli village, Tumakuru district, Manjunatha witnessed hardship right from his childhood, but it was his perseverance that made him an achiever.

After completing his Masters of Arts in Political Science from the University of Mysore, he attended a PhD viva-voce of Dr.Krishna R Hombal, who is also visually challenged.

“Attending the viva-voce of Dr.Krishna Hombal was a turning point in my life.

It inspired me to pursue my PhD. I felt that if he could do it, I could too,” he says.

His study focused on the Student movement in Karnataka- A study of Akhila Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishat(ABVP) from 1990 to 2014.

On the support he received from his family, Manjunatha says that it was the strong moral support from his family which helped him to pursue his studies and dreams. “Even though we faced financial constraints, they encouraged me,” he mentions and adds that he received financial help and moral support from various people.

“Dr.Tulasimala, Professor of the department of Economics, Manasagangotri, Dr.C.K Puttaswamy, Assistant Professor, department of Communication and Journalism, Mysore University, Dr. Murali, Mr. Eshwar Bhat, Mr. E.C Nagaraj, Ex-Syndicate member, Mysore University and Mr.Kranti Manju of Mandya supported me throughout,” he informs.

Manjunatha’s PhD journey wasn’t a smooth ride as one would expect, given that he’s a visually-impaired person. He faced many roadblocks. On the one hand there was no special treatment or concession that came his way, his PhD was not awarded on time though it was completed.

“I never received a stipend or any sort of fee concession from the University. I was treated like anyone else. I had completed my PhD and submitted it in 2014 but I had to wait till 2016,” he says and adds that in his frustration, he wrote to the then HRD minister to intervene.

In the process he ruffled a few feathers and rubbed people the wrong way, but he never really was concerned about the consequences as he believed he was right.

“I have always been vocal about issues that need focus. I once protested against the exorbitant CET admission fee structure for which I was slapped with 8 false cases including section 425 of the IPC which means causing damage to public property, though it was a peaceful protest,” he reveals.

Manjunatha’s letter to the then HRD minister led to some much-needed reforms for women and the physically handicapped who pursue their PhD. They now get an extra year to complete their PhD. And now, the University of Mysore does not charge any fee for physically handicapped candidates who pursue their PhD from the University.

Today, Manjunatha works as a guest lecturer of Political Science at the Maharani’s college in Mysuru. He has also registered a trust by the name ‘Shrushti Foundation’, which focuses on education, research and skill development of college students and those who have dropped out from their 10th standard.

He aims to establish a Research Institute to fuel innovation. He wishes to create knowledge and enlighten young minds by imparting education.

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