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Changing Attitude towards Disability: 5 Inspiring Icons of India

The norms of the community are constructed by society itself, otherwise, there is nothing impossible for us, humans. We have the biggest weapon — determination — to overcome any challenge life throws at us. A person with Disability is largely stigmatised and beheld within societal prejudice. But there are a few of them, the rebellious soul — I like to call them, in the community, who wouldn’t let anyone dictate them about their strength and success. People who not only empower themselves but empower others around them. Such people carry a spark in their eyes, grace in their movement and firmness in their spirit. History has presented us with many such outstanding achievers like Stephen Hawking, Hellen Keller and John Nash who inspire us to never give up. The stories of extraordinary people who proved nothing is impossible if you have the right mindset.

Today we will talk about those, who are an inspiration to not just the people of Disability but to everyone who is aspiring to encourage society and its prejudice dictate their journeys.

Sudha Chandran 

I vaguely remember a memory of my childhood where I watched Sudha Chandra spell her magical dance moves in one of the reality shows. I didn’t know back then that her leg is prosthetic. He danced so beautifully, all that mattered was her perfect Bharatanatyam dance moves. But later she narrated her ugly accident which led to no alternative but to amputate her leg. And when she narrated the incident of her childhood and her journey of how she fought back all the challenges gave me goosebumps and I remember applauding with tears of joy while watching her owning her journey like a boss. 

She overcame her disability by getting a prosthetic “Jaipur Foot” and became one of the most popular and acclaimed classical dancers in the country. Not just that, Chandran is also a household name and a renowned figure in the Indian television and film industry. She has a national award for her debut film Nache Mayuri and had tasted success with Ramola Sikand apart from the numerous other awards.

Ravindra Jain

The musical maestro needs no introduction. The composition of this mega music composer finds a place even in the playlist of the Millenials and Gen Z, it definitely is there in my playlist. How can one give a miss to “Ankhiyon ke jharokhon Se” lyrics and not ponder upon the transcendental conceptualisation by the composer? Furthermore, is there even a wedding without the ultimate “le Jayenge, le Jayenge” song playing? These are a few mentions of Ravindra Jain who was born visually impaired but started singing at a very young age and took his passion to a new high when he joined the Indian music industry. Jain is one of the most notable music directors of the 1970s. The magician of words and voice, was so inclined towards his that when, during one of the recording sessions, his father passed away, he still did not leave the recording room until the recordings were finalized. 

Jain never let his disability or society dictate him anything. He ruled and followed his passion with sheer hard work and passion, and society eventually enjoyed his music. 

Sqn Ldr Abhai Pratap Singh

The man lightens the ambience with his presence. My interaction with Sqn Ldr AP Singh made one thing very clear, that there is no problem that he cannot resolve. Sqn Ldr Abhai Pratap Singh met with an accident in 2007 and like the discourse around people with disability, a lot of people thought that it’s over for him. A qualified fighter pilot with Indian Air Force who once soared heights and measured the skies was suddenly restricted to a Wheelchair. Sqn Ldr spent two years in hospitals which is enough to break the strongest of souls but as I mentioned earlier there is no problem that Sqn Ldr Pratap cannot solve, he not only survived all the negative possibilities but emerged as a warrior. Instead of continuing with Air Force as a Ground Duty officer, he chose to take retirement and do something on his own. Within few years only, he established himself as a successful entrepreneur. And he not only empowered himself but people around him. Today, Sqn Leader wears the pride of being the founding member of Wheelchair Cricket India Association which has recently formed an association with Physically Challenged Cricket Association and Blind Cricket Association under Disability Cricket Council of India(DCCI). DCCI has also come under the BCCI umbrella. 

Somjeet Singh 

Somjeet Singh believes in authenticity. The star Captain of the Indian Wheelchair Cricket India Association encourages you to develop and grow by learning and collecting support organically. This is what I learnt from him in my first interaction. Luckily, I happen to interact with him on another occasion via Instagram Live ( Instagram Live), where Somjeet pours his heart about how Cricket shaped his life and the sport is ideal to rehabilitate disabled people particularly Wheelchair Users. Somjeet has guided the Indian Wheelchair Cricket team to numerous success and not just that he regularly engages with interested Wheelchair Users from various states through social media platforms. He has organised a three teams tournament at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to study the feasibility of Wheelchair Cricket as a competitive sport for Wheelchair Users. His success cap bears a feather of taking several initiatives in the interest of wheelchair cricket users, one amongst them is the formation of the Uttar Pradesh Wheelchair Cricket Association to take Wheelchair Cricket to next level. 

He himself has trained at least 200 players initially from States of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattishgarh on basic Wheelchair Skills and Cricket.

H Ramakrishnan

Disability cannot undermine the will of the warriors. Some do not choose their destiny to govern their soul, they write their own destiny. Such people and their stories are inspirational not just for the over 2 crore Indians who suffer from some form of disability, but for everyone.

H. Ramakrishnan was born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and hailed from a middle-class family. Ramakrishnan was affected in both legs by polio at the young age of two. Beating all the struggle that peddled at each step he cracked civil services and joined the Indian Information Service. With an overall experience of 40-years as a journalist having interactions with the likes of the President and Prime Minister, he has proved nothing is impossible. 

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