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Saturday, 22 November 2014

To be differently abled, and gifted - Chennai

Sudha Menon, co-author of the book. - BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
                         Sudha Menon - Co Author of the Book


Real-life tales depict indomitable spirit of winners who just wouldn't give up

Hans Dalal is affected by cerebral palsy, but he overcame the challenge to become a sound engineer and then followed his passion and became a tiger conservationist. Malvika Iyer lost both her arms in a grenade explosion but with caring, technology and grit, is now doing her Ph.D, apart from continuing her efforts for inclusiveness of the differently-abled. Sunil Desai, who lost the use of his limbs, overcame despondence to start an organisation that provides caregivers for those who cannot look after themselves.

These are just three of the 15 people whose accounts feature in Gifted, a book on people who have overcome their disabilities, written by Sudha Menon and VR Ferose. The stories are honest. Beating the odds came with much despair and frustration at various stages – living among society, during school and college admissions, not being admitted to a course or a job despite having the marks, periods of depression when they almost gave up. But this led to much insight, which is delivered in pithy statements throughout the book.

Success calling

Like Ankit Jindal, in the course of narrating how he came to be employed, says the company did not look at his disability as much as it did at his ability, or George Abraham of SCORE Foundation and Project Eyeway, a partially seeing person who says “disability is God-given but a handicap is man-made”, and that sponsorship recognises ability while donation recognises disability.

One of the threads running through this book is how the differently-abled would like a better quality of support, one that understands and enables, rather than pity. They do not want to be dismissed without being given a chance, and they know that it is a huge task to get the world to give them a hearing. Persistence in the face of several setbacks, telling themselves to get over their self-pity and to keep trying, somehow, is what keeps them going and becoming successful.

As Malathi Holla, a Paralympian and Padma Shri awardee quoted in the book, says: “An inferiority complex can be more crippling than a physical disability.”

Support systems

is equally a tribute to the parents and friends that stood steadfastly by the people it tells about. The stories and the struggles sound similar, but despite that, the book is an absorbing and thought-provoking read. A facet which the book touched upon, but left largely unexplored, was the issue of marital/romantic relationships – how they found their partners, or did not, and the adjustments they and their partners had to make. This is a rather largely ignored aspect in most discussions on disability.

Authors Sudha Menon, a former journalist at Business Line, and Ferose, a senior vice - president at SAP and founder of the India Inclusion Summit will launch the book in Chennai on Wednesday. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Enable India, an organization that works for the development of people with disability in India.

Source : The Hindu Business Line , 18th Nov 2014

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