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Rising To The Occasion! Tamil Nadu Boy Finally Fulfilled His Dream of Studying Agriculture

Chandran, who comes from a tribal family in a small village on the Bargur Hills, finally earned his admission to his dream course in agriculture after a three-year wait.

Chintu Das

U. Chandran was born in an impoverished tribal family with ten siblings in a rural portion of Tamil Nadu's Bargur Hills in Erode district, and all he desired after graduating from high school was to pursue his goal of studying agriculture or veterinary science.

Chandran stayed in a Tribal Welfare Department-run hostel after obtaining his schooling through the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) for a few years to finish his board examinations for class 12 by specialising in the vocational stream — Agricultural Practices — in 2019.

Against All Odds

Despite receiving a 98 percent in his core subjects and a 74% overall in his 12th board exams, Chandran was denied admission to the courses of his choice due to systemic disparity in the admission processes of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) towards candidates from vocational streams.

According to The Hindu, TANUVAS' seat arithmetic did not allow for the reservation of a single seat for a student from the tribal areas in the vocational stream; TNAU allowed vocational stream candidates only in its own institutions, not in its affiliated colleges.

TNAU did not have any regulations in place for the admission of vocational stream students even in its own institutions.

His Dream Course

After being crushed by his inability to acquire a seat, the tribal youngster returned to his village to raise cattle while working as a labourer in textile industries in his region on occasion for the last three years.

Chandran opted to apply to TANUVAS and TNAU every year since 2019 after receiving much-needed support from the non-governmental organization Sudar, which has been aiding him in his studies since elementary school. But was always turned down.

On the back of Sudar and a few other activists' efforts, as well as involvement from the TN Chief Minister's office, Chandran was able to acquire a place at the Kumaraguru Institute of Agriculture (KIA) this year, just as he was about to give up chasing his ambition.

On March 30, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's office's official Twitter account posted a photo of Chandran with the caption in Tamil: "According to the order to implement a 5% special quota for students studying agriculture in the vocational education course in Class XII at the affiliated colleges of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, B.Sc. Mr. Chandran, an aboriginal student from Bargur hill village in Erode district, met with the Hon'ble Chief Minister @mkstalin and thanked him for his admission order for a degree in agriculture."

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