They had waited long for this day, hoping it would bring a ray of hope. Securing a seat would mark a milestone in their lives, otherwise plagued by not only poverty, but also disability.
It was with this optimism that the visually and physically challenged came to attend the single window counselling for admission to undergraduate courses under the special quota at Government Arts College here on Monday.
Son of a daily labourer in Sathyamangalam, life for orthopaedically challenged P. Ayyappan was a hurdle in every way.
With very little means, it was a challenge to even complete school. But that did not stop him from studying well and looking ahead at college education. Monday turned out to be good for him as he got a B.Sc. Physics seat.
His dreams include completing a PG degree in Physics and teaching in a college.
There were others like him who attended the counselling in search of a foothold that will serve as a stepping stone.
Hence, their happiness was unparalleled when they got a chance at higher education under the disability reservation quota.
The college had earmarked 40 seats — three per cent quota under disability — for which the counselling was held.
According to K. Shanmuga Sundaram, Admissions Coordinator, though all the seats under the quota do not get filled, it is heartening to see a rise every year.
But the visually challenged are not yet confident of opting for mathematics and accountancy based courses and hence settle for the arts courses. Even those with high marks in Plus-Two are apprehensive about choosing such courses as they are not comfortable writing numbers-based examinations using scribes.
Counselling sessions for candidates under the sports quota, National Cadet Corps (NCC) quota, and ex-servicemen quota, were also held.
Most candidates who had applied under the sports quota could not be as happy as those under the disability quota.
As many as 1,034 applications were received under the three per cent sports quota for filling 40 seats.
They were national, State, district and divisional players, a majority of whom could not be accommodated under the reservation quota. Nearly 180 had applied under the NCC quota for which only one seat was reserved.
There were four candidates who were given admissions under the ex-servicemen quota.
The demand on day one of counselling for special quota, ahead of general counselling, went to prove that the need for another Government Arts College was justified, according to faculty of the college. They say that the number of candidates that will return disappointed without getting seats will only increase with the general counselling beginning on Tuesday.
As many as 5,751 candidates have applied for 1,319 seats in 20 disciplines.