A case of lost identity

25 year old Gopal Kulkarni (name changed) was born blind in Rui Talav village in Maharashtra. He is the third of the four children born to his parents, remaining three sighted. Gopal’s parents were deeply disappointed at the birth of a blind child and so they wanted to have a fourth child to make up for their loss. Given their lack of education and weak economic status, Gopal’s parents were unaware of the potential of a blind person and had no will or resources to invest in him. Under such unsupportive circumstances, Gopal started his education at the age of 8 in a special school in Yavatmal.

When he was studying in Class 6, his family decided to move to Telangana seeking better employment opportunities. Gopal was unwilling to move with them because he was wary of pursuing education in a new language at a later age. He wanted to continue his education in Marathi. Moreover his parents’ lack of interest in him led him to take a difficult decision to stay back in Maharashtra. Gopal moved in with his uncle and took admission in a blind school in Bhopoli village, Maharashtra. Unfortunately Gopal’s share of troubles continued as he faced bullying in his new school, forcing him to move out and relocate to Mumbai city. Here he finally took admission in Maratha Mandir Shala, a mainstream school. As a blind student Gopal needed help in pursuing mainstream education which was provided to him by National Association of Blind. With NAB’s continued aid and assistance, he managed to complete Class X scoring a 75%. Gopal is now pursuing his Class XI from Ruia College.

Gopal first connected with Eyeway in May 2017 on suggestion from one of his friends and since then he has been a frequent caller seeking resolutions on various issues. Recently, he called the Eyeway Helpdesk asking for help to rectify an error in his official records. He discovered that his name was misspelt in all his ID proofs following which he contacted the college authorities to make a correction. But he was turned down saying that the correction needed to be made in his school certificate as a logical course. When Gopal contacted Eyeway, our counselor suggested him to get in touch with the State Board of Secondary Education. The counselor also suggested him to furnish a copy of his Aadhar card as proof to ask for necessary changes in other official documents. That’s when we realized that Gopal’s name was misspelt on his Aadhar card as well. On persistently pursuing the issue, we discovered that his Disability Certificate carried all correct details and therefore it could be used as a basis for correction on other documents.

With help and support from Eyeway, Gopal has managed to submit an application at the Aadhar office to update his name and contact details on the basis of proof submitted in the form of his Disability Certificate. The application is under progress and once he receives his updated Aadhar card, Gopal would be easily able to rectify all errors on any other identity documents.