Harshitha C, a visually impaired Mount Carmel College student who spearheaded an initiative to scrap import duties on specialised equipment for the blind, passed her Bcom examinations with distinction in all subjects. She has received a congratulatory letter (accessed exclusively by Newsd) from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi which reads, “As you pursue your career, I hope that you will never feel limited in what you can do. I look forward to following your career and will continue to take pride in your achievements.”
Gandhi had taken Harshitha’s cause to do away with the 41% import tax on braille paper to Parliament, after an interaction with students of the Bengaluru college last November. “I admire the initiative you took to bring about a removal of the import duty on braille paper. Yours and Chandana’s action led to a change in the law that helped crores of blind citizens across our country.”
I want to thank the FM though for accepting my recommendation on removing import duty on Braille paper to help the visually impaired!
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 29, 2016
(Rahul Gandhi’s tweet from February 29, 2016)
Harshitha’s request was forwarded from Gandhi to finance minister Arun Jaitley and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Gandhi even requested Parliament to consider reducing the tax, which led to the tabling of a law which was passed in Parliament; import tax on specialised equipment is now nil.
“The reality is that the only walls that limit us are those we create ourselves, the ones in our mind. Break the walls of doubt and fear and you will see there is nothing that can stop you,” Gandhi writes in his letter.
“As a visually impaired student I know how it is. In India 80-90% students are from poor backgrounds. And considering the only source for blind students to study is braille, I took the initiative,” Harshitha says to Newsd. “Studying in braille is expensive, so where will poor students go? This is my only concern.”
A two-time recipient of Mount Carmel’s Best Academic Student of the Year award, Harshitha described Rahul Gandhi as extremely humble. “He had already changed a lot of disabled students’ lives before I made my request,” she adds. In fact, Harshitha says she was motivated to speak up after hearing that Gandhi has in the past helped differently-abled people.
Harshitha is currently doing a certification programme to apply for Google. After working for Google, her ambition is to be the first visually impaired filmmaker in the country. “I want to work with Disney and then a production company in New York,” she says.