His father who worked as a coolie is a heart patient. His illiterate mother is just 45, but having carried heavy loads on her back all her life, she suffers from severe back problems. Until the local Panchayat gave community members proper houses, they lived in huts. When it rained, his parents could not go out and work, and there were days when there was no rice at home and they ate only jackfruit seeds. When he was young, the only desire he had was to have rice to eat every day. Can you believe it, this 24 years old youth has been admitted to the prestigious London School of Economics?
In school, if he remained a silent, invisible backbencher, it was mainly because no teacher paid any attention to him. There was nobody to guide him or advise him on his studies, so much so that he didn’t even know what to study and how to do it. It was only when he was in Class VII that he passed a subject for the first time. His primary and middle school days went by without anyone hurting him much. But the moment he went to high school, he felt discriminated against.
There were only socially backward and poor students in the upper primary school, so they all felt the same. But once he got to high school, there were socially and financially sound students in the school and they looked down upon him with contempt. Once when he was out on the school ground for physical education, a teacher asked him which House (children are divided into various Houses) he belonged to. When he said he was a member of the Blue House, the master sarcastically remarked, ‘you should have been in the black house; not the blue one!’ That incident discriminate him a lot.
Recalling the caste discrimination Binesh said “I still remember the upper-class people shutting the door in my face when I went to watch TV at their home. If they saw their children playing with us, they would immediately call them home. On festival days and birthdays, they used to call us to eat, but would make us sit on the floor at the back of the house and serve us food there.”
Life changed dramatically for Binesh when a senior student in his school took him to an Internet cafe. It was during the summer vacation after Class VII; the year he had for the first time passed a subject in school. At the cafe, he was introduced to video games first. After that, he started going there often to play games. From games, he moved to the virtual world, a world where there was no caste, religion or backwardness, where nobody looked at him with contempt or judged him. He created an e-mail id for himself, and also an account on Orkut.
When the new academic year started, there was an allotted hour for students of Class VIII to study computers. For the first time, Binesh felt confident in front of the other students, having already learned to operate a computer. He was so fascinated by programming languages that he scored full marks in the subject and became a hero for the other students! That made him decide it was the field he was going to study after Class X. He was going to become a network engineer!
He was also interested in dancing but didn’t know where to learn. Again, the Internet came to his rescue, and he started learning dance watching YouTube videos of Michael Jackson. He learned the most difficult steps first and became a reasonably good dancer. Dancing also helped him break free from the shackles that bound him since childhood. He also started reading e books and learned to design Web sites.
Binesh was very keen to study network engineering and was admitted to a college in Bangalore. However, due to a local politician’s interference, he did not get funding from the government, and there ended his dream of studying network engineering. Disappointed, Binesh had to bury his dreams and join a nearby college to study development economics. He started spending more time in the library to improve his language skills and knowledge of the subject. After completing his graduation, Binesh decided to do an MBA at the Kerala University campus. That was the time he was introduced to Dr. Ambedkar.”Like Ambedkar, I also wanted to go out and study where I would not be judged on my color, background or financial status.” he said.
In the meantime, he was selected among 20 students to win the National Overseas scholarship of Rs 45 lakh. Binesh applied to the London School of Economics and was admitted for an MSc in Social Anthropology. What worked in his favor was a paper he published in the Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies on tribal medicine that can detoxify the bodies of alcoholics before they started counseling. As he gets ready to go to LSE in 2017, he says, “I have found that if these universities notice that you have potential, they encourage you.My ambition is to do a Ph.D. at Oxford or Harvard”