"Blindness is not a disability or defect, it's just a characteristic".
Said Mr Pratish Datta, who despite being visually impaired, has reached great heights of success in his life. Currently, he is doing his PhD in the field of "Cryptology and Security systems" at IIT KGP. After graduating with Mathematics stream from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, he joined IIT KGP in 2010 for MSc. course. He was the best academic performer in this course, for which he received "J C Bose Memorial Gold Medal" from the President of India, Sri Pranab Mukherjee.
From childhood, his left eye had no vision. He had to use 20 diopters power glasses for his right eye that was almost deprived of vision. As a result of this, he could not take up Science for his +2 course. Low vision could have posed a great difficulty for him in performing science experiments. Arts stream did not attract him rather. He was keen to study Mathematics from his younger days. His complete dependence on his mother for reading textbooks developed his mental power to such extent that he could do complex calculations mentally. Further, he took up Ecoscience, which included Mathematics, Statistics and Economics.
Next challenge for him was to choose a subject for graduation. Mr Datta liked Economics but he was not interested in pursuing this subject for graduation. He had a great interest in Statistics but frequent use of computers in that field could have been a difficult task to manage. The circumstances and his love for the subject resulted in the choice of Mathematics for graduation. In 2008, which was his second year of graduation, he lost the vision of his right eye too. From his college, St. Xavier's, there persisted a trend of students going to top universities. It motivated him to study harder and thereafter he took admission in IIT KGP through JAM. The scribe provided to him in the JAM exam did not have even basic knowledge of Mathematics and English. Despite this, he completed his exam and qualified it. Faculty members, staff members, his friends have supported him through almost every part and parcel of his life at IIT KGP. He received support from the administration too, as and when required. He completed his MSc. course with flying colours bagging the "J C Bose Memorial Gold Medal". The happiness of achieving this feat was incomparable to any other happiness for him. According to Mr Datta, "To succeed in a particular subject you cannot rely just on practice without having the basic understanding of the subject. Above all, in many aspects, Mathematics is the toughest subject. Therefore, one should try to understand the logic behind everything." Subsequently, he took admission in the PhD course in "Cryptology and Security systems" at IIT KGP. His interest is more inclined towards research rather than teaching. So, he further plans to do his Post-Doc.
Credits to his Parents
Mr Datta gives credits to his parents for the enormous success he has achieved, especially his mother. His mother works with him day and night sacrificing everything for his studies. He mentioned that often people jokingly says that his mother might could be a Mathematics scholar, after all she is his companion in studies since the day he started doing so. She writes and reads what he says and she has been doing this for him since his childhood. His mother says, "My son's success definitely makes me happy but biggest happiness for me would be if my son is able to see.'' His hobby includes music, he listens to a variety of songs. He also likes to "listen'' to movies. Apart from these, till the time he had the vision, he loved reading story books. But after losing his vision, he could only listen to audio books, although, it did not make him feel the way he used to feel while reading the books.
Nothing is impossible
Mr Datta has even delivered a talk at TEDx in Kalidas Auditorium, IIT KGP, alongside many greats including the Nobel laureate, Mr Kailash Satyarthi. He also went to Japan to deliver a guest lecture. People generally like to know about success stories but the struggles, hard times behind them goes untold. So has been the case with him. He has been through many struggles, ups and downs but nothing could dampen his zeal to pursue a career in Mathematical research. He believes "nothing is impossible". Further, he says, "everyone is bound to face tough times. Life would lose its meaning if problems are taken out of it. So, instead of getting depressed, one should accept the challenges and focus on solving the problems." Apart from these, he wants us to convey the information to the people that there are many software available for the visually impaired persons which dictate the layout of the laptop screen and makes it possible to be used by them.
His life has been extraordinary which motivates a large mass of audience. He has succeeded in proving the saying "one sees through the mind, not the eyes."