At the age of 10, Ojas Maheshwari had a dream – to get into IIT Bombay. Eight years later, he is on his way to gaining admission into the institution in the first round itself.

Ojas achieved an All-India (AIR) rank of 26 in the JEE Advanced 2022 exam. He also ranks first in the People with Disabilities (PwD) category, as well as being the first person with a disability to have such good overall rating in JEE Advanced.

The Andheri resident says he never considered his hearing impairment a weakness, choosing to focus on his studies instead. His proud mother Pooja says all he aimed for was a general rank, not one in the PWD category.

“He was very clear about one thing – that he wanted the rank of general. He always said the PWD seat was mine, but I would also establish myself in the general category. He had worked towards that vision since he was very young. No one would say he entered from During the class, ”says the happy mother.

A childhood filled with the Olympics

Ojas celebrates his rank
Ojas Maheshwari celebrates after securing AIR-26 in JEE Advanced

Sometime when her son was between the ages of six and seven, Pooja realized that something was wrong.

“I noticed he couldn’t hear the doorbell or when I called him from behind. But he was such a smart boy that he learned to read lips. So, no one in his school noticed. We went to the doctor and were told he had 66% hearing loss,” says Pooja.

Because of Ojas’ adaptability, his parents decided that they would empower him and prepare him to lead a normal life.

“For a year after the diagnosis, we were on the hook about what his life would be like. We kept thinking. But Ojas’ attitude made us realize he deserved the world, and we decided to give it to him. We just had to bridge the 34 percent gap, and he did wonders.”

Being an Olympiad teacher, Pooja saw her son’s love for mathematics and science from a very young age. She says he couldn’t stay away from books on the two subjects. She started honing his talent and made him participate in Olympic competitions when he was eight years old. Ojas maintained the edge.

He started with small Olympiads and quickly moved on to state level competitions. He won many gold medals, scholarships and government grants, and came first in Maharashtra in the Homi Bhabha exam. He participated in the International Olympiads and came in the top ten in Chemistry, Physics and Science. Astronomy,” says the proud mom.

Ojas says that IIT was his dream and it really is a “no brainer” for him.

“Thanks to my parents realizing my desire, participating in the Olympiad gave a huge boost to my education. I had a passion for mathematics and science, and the automatic path for me was IIT,” says Ojas.

Since the fifth grade, he has worked with this unique goal in mind.

Ojas with his parents
Ojas with his parents after the announcement of JEE Advanced results

He scored 97.8% in both the Grade 10 and Grade 12 exams. He was coached by his mother until Grade 8. For JEE Advanced, join Narayana Institute in class 11, which has a junior college.

While everything was going well for the IIT aspirant, when the pandemic hit in the year 2020, new challenges came along. This happened just when JEE classes started. However, like any other hurdle in life, Ojas has crossed this hurdle too.

Due to problems with the Internet and his hearing aids breaking down, online lessons posed a problem for him.

“While Narayana started online lessons very soon, even before others, listening to online lessons was a huge challenge for Ojas. Sometimes he couldn’t hear properly, or his hearing aids stopped working. We were also worried that exposure The big computer should not cause more harm. We have asked the institute to resume offline classes soon, which they did especially for Ojas and a few other students,” says Pooja.

‘Never lose hope’

Ojas Maheshwari
Ojas made history as the first person of determination to achieve rank 26 in JEE Advanced

But offline classrooms amid COVID-19 mean teachers and students will have to wear masks. Speaking with masks muffles our voice, which causes problems for children like ojas.

“I had difficulty resuming lessons offline. I couldn’t read what the teachers were saying with lips. I also found it difficult to hear them because of the masks. It created a huge communication gap,” he recalls.

Pooja says the institute took special care of the boy because of his potential. The teachers were patient and repeated sentences if needed.

Topper also credits his parents for supporting him.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my father,” he says.

Ojas with his parents
Ojas Maheshwari with his proud parents

When the offline lessons resumed, the Maheshwaris were staying at Dadar and Ojas had to travel by train daily to Andheri to attend the classes. He would leave the house by 6am and only come back by 10pm. And for his further assistance, they shifted their residence to Andheri.

“The full-day home-and-away classes got too crowded. Also, sometimes, his hearing aid would stop working in the middle of class. We would then have to rush for spares. To give him moral support, we decided to move to Andheri,” says Pooja.

In fact, while she supported her son, she also made sure he was self-sufficient and confident. She provided him with life skills so that he could live and work on his own.

“When he was initially diagnosed, I was very upset. I was wondering how he would manage to walk on his own if he was unable to hear honks or sounds. But I made myself strong and decided to raise him to be a confident kid who could handle all situations. He was traveling in all He used to travel around Mumbai on local trains since he was in class 7. In fact, he used to travel alone by train to attend his classes too,” says Pooja.

Ojas says his parents’ support kept him motivated. And all his efforts paid off on September 11th, as JEE Advanced 2022 results were announced.

At that time, the Maheshwaris were in the Narayana Education Institute, Hyderabad. They were confident their son would do a good job, and when they were proven right, they had tears in their eyes, says Pooja.

“I had been waiting for this moment for a very long time,” says Ojas.

Ojas celebrate his victory
Ojas celebrates his achievement with other titles

Ojas also shared what worked for him during his JEE Advanced preparation:

He says he started rigorous preparations for the exam in April 2020 itself. He was studying approximately 12-14 hours a day. He says good sleep is important.

  1. Take short notes: The rank-and-file says that one should develop a habit of taking short notes. This helps in subjects with large chapters which one cannot review easily. “The JEE advanced syllabus is quite extensive. If you take notes, you will be able to cover the syllabus in a short period of time.”
  2. Focus on all subjects: Ojas focused on his weak subject, inorganic chemistry, as much as on mathematics. “I made detailed notes for inorganic chemistry. I reviewed these notes on a daily basis. This especially helped with the feedback and exceptions on this topic.”
  3. Create a daily planHaving a schedule is of utmost importance. “Thanks to my foundation, we had a daily plan. We had regular exams and knew how much quota to complete each week,” says Ojas.
  4. Study with your peer groupThe pandemic has shown us the importance of offline interactions. It’s the same for education too, the teen feels. “The peer group is very important for studies. When you are around your friends, you experience healthy competition. You can also learn different ways of solving problems,” says Ojas.
  5. Never lose hope“Always believe in yourself. Know that you are capable enough to do it. The road ahead will be fine with a little bit of hope,” Peaks smiles.
  6. Don’t sacrifice sleep: Despite studying for 12-14 hours a day, Ojas always slept well at night. He slept from 9:30 to 10 in the evening and woke up from 4:30 to 5 in the morning. He feels sleep should not be sacrificed.
  7. Get some de-stress: While the Andheri resident turned off his mobile phone a few months before the auditions, and wasn’t on social media, he found other ways to calm himself down. His favorite activity was playing soccer for an hour in college, which helped him relax.
  8. out of survival“I have been self-motivated since my childhood. I knew that I would achieve my dream, no matter what. I think a burning desire is required to pass a tough exam like JEE Advanced,” says Ojas.

Edited by Divya Sethu, images courtesy Pooja Maheshwari


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