They Just Need an Opportunity

I was standing there admiring the vote of thanks being given by a dear friend Rajiv Ranjan as the Advantage Conclave Bihar came to an end in Patna. Rajiv is a very well spoken gentleman and he is what we call a ‘grammar nazi’ but his biggest asset is not his public speaking, but his it is his creativity. He has a great eye for design and runs a very successful design agency based in Delhi called Imagica Graphics.

The prestigious conclave that I moderated saw the who’s who of India’s industry and media in attendance; Rajiv did all the design and creative’s for the event. After handing over the moderator’s baton to him to do the closing honours, I stood there admiring this man’s confidence and eloquence in a wheelchair who I have known for over a decade.

Rajiv in his late forties now has been in a wheel chair from the time he was 11, he can barely move his hands a few inches, he cannot put on his earphones without support. The lower part of his body is immobile and he moves around in an automated wheelchair. A full-time help is always around to do the smallest of things for him including feeding him. Yet he is constantly on his smart phone handling business calls and running his company remotely. It is a joy to see him work on his computer; very few of us can match up to the focus and meticulousness with which he works.

That night during a chat after dinner, I made it a point to speak to Rajiv and tell him how inspirational he was for me for living his life with so much zest and energy. When you talk to him or spend time with him, he never gives you a feeling that he is physically challenged. His confidence, conversational topics and outlook towards life is so extremely positive. During my conversation, Rajiv highlighted the role his school played in making him what he was today.

Rajiv recalled that when he was studying at St. Michaels, Patna his Principal was the late Fr. Harland. He has a distinct memory of how Fr. Harland had assured his parents that he was the schools responsibility. When he was in grade 9 and 10, his class was shifted to the ground floor instead of the usual top floor just to make it easier for him. His teachers treated him like any other student, they punished and reprimanded him when he went off the line and praised him when it was due. He took part in all activities. He never had to look for anyone to help him get into school or climb stairs, his schoolmates were always around to carry him.
Rajiv was part of a normal school and treated like any normal student. This made him ‘normal’. Today he is a successful entrepreneur who runs an organisation, that employs many people and adds values to many companies that are his clients.

Basis the report submitted by the Census of India(2011),It is estimated that 2.21% of our total Indian population, suffers with some or the other kind of disability has some physical challenge or the other. I have always wondered where these children are! Schools come up with silly reasons for not bringing these children on board. Most children do not need any special treatment, they just need an opportunity.! Infact the biggest gainers are their classmates who grow up learning empathy with their mere presence.

We have laws, we have mandates and yet we have very few Rajiv’s studying in our schools. How many Rajiv’s do you have in your school?

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