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Some Differently Abled IITians:

If you are an avid follower of the day to day happenings in our country and happen to have a good memory to retain the news, then you would remember that IIT Kharagpur was in the news sometime last year for their winning innovation of driver-less cycle, in the KPIT Sparkle 2016 event. The I-BIKE as it was named was inspired by the differently abled IITians studying in its campus. This bike was designed to aid those students who are orthopedically challenged, to commute freely. The beautiful side of technology seen in action here!

The Indian government had put the quota system in place to help those citizens who cannot help themselves. Be it a place of study or a job, there are specials percentage of seats allotted for the minorities and for the differently abled. However in recent years it is quite sad to note that the quotas for the differently abled are not fully occupied. One reason could be the lack of facilities in colleges and other public places. While the intention of the government is good, the execution lacks. In a scenario such as this, inventors like those mentioned above are much needed.

In another more recent article, 19 year Krishan Kumar Pandit landed himself a place in IIT, by securing the 38th All India rank in the OBC category in JEE…thanks to his brother Basant Kumar Pandit, who carried him everywhere. The brothers are from Bihar and Krishan’s aspiration was to study in IIT. Hence against all odds, he realized his dream. Maybe this is what Kalam must have meant when he said, ‘You have to dream before your dream comes true’.

On a beautiful Saturday, the 15th day of September 2012, Pratish Datta walked up to the stage of IIT Kharagpur to receive the Professor Jagadish Chandra Bose Memorial Gold Medal from President Pranab Mukherjee. He was awarded for the best academic performance among outgoing students of the M.Sc courses in the science disciplines at the IIT. Pratish who was aided by his mother went on to prove that one sees through the mind, not the eyes. Losing his sight at a very young age did not curb his enthusiasm or dull his mind. Pratish did not stop with M.Sc alone, but is working for a Doctorate in cryptology and network technology at IIT. This is what determination is all about.

Anushruti was a humble social initiative from IIT Roorkee, that was started for those who were hearing challenged. It has now completed its Silver Jubilee and has 109 students under its wings. IIT Roorkee students and faculty are encouraged to undertake research and develop new technology to help the hearing challenged students. This has led to the discovery and creation of various assistance devices and software such as Loop Induction System, Speech Intensity Meter, Vaghmi, Electronic Learning Wheel etc., in order to better the lives of these differently abled wards. This is indeed the way to go!

I am reminded of a song we used to sing at school. It goes like this…this little guiding of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, all the time let it shine. This would be apt to describe the work of Professor Arun Mehta, an alumnus of IIT Delhi. Professor Mehta who is a software engineer and a disability rights activist used his technical training to create a software called Elocutor. This is to aid people having severe motor and speech disabilities. In 2009, Professor Mehta and his partner founded BAPSI (Bidirectional Access Promotion Society), an NGO that develops free learning solutions and communication software for people with disabilities. Founded in Delhi, BAPSI aims to improve the access to technology for people with disabilities by making it affordable. This IIT alumnus has spread his light to the world.

abLife at IIT is never easy. One needs to have enough passion to sustain himself or herself to keep moving ahead. However the lives of these differently abled IITians should inspire us to rise to great heights.

These differently abled IITians are an inspiration not only to the differently abled community, but to the entire country. Read about the scope of education for the differently abled in our country in this article.

Let me conclude with the poetic lines of William E. Lightbourne.

Use the skills that I have got.
Do not focus on what I have not.
Of course, I am aware of my limitation.
Yet, I am a part of God’s wonderful creation!

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