Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
 
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ADDRESS AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE NATIONAL AWARDS BEING ORGANISED ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS, NEW DELHI
 
03-12-2006 : New dElhi
 
Special People are our Asset

"More I believe in myself,
my strength multiplies"

 
   
 

I am indeed delighted to participate in the Presentation of the National Awards being organized on the International Day of Disabled Persons. I realize that it is very important to recognize outstanding employees, employers, placement officers, individuals, institutions and creative disabled persons from different walks of life. My greetings to all the awardees, who have worked consistently for many years, to achieve this recognition. Last year, there was a request for inclusion of certain categories of mentally challenged persons for filling up the reserved vacancies in Government establishments. I am happy that this proposal for employment of mentally challenged persons in Government establishments is under examination. Also, a Committee under the Chairmanship of Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is working out methods to simplify the procedure for disability certification. I am sure, this process will be completed fast and the reservation for employment of mentally challenged persons in Government establishments will come into force within the next three months. When I am with you, I would like to share with you an incident which took place in Cuttack, Orissa.

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Willpower and determination conquer disability

On 27th December 2005, I visited Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation and Training near Cuttack, Orissa. There I met Ms. Indira Patnaik born in Ganjam District in the year 1953. She is the niece of Gandhian Diwakar Patnaik. In the year 1976, Indira Patnaik met with a road accident where the vehicle fell 36 feet below the road. This has resulted in loss of her ankle and fracture of cervical spine leading to quadry plegia. Initially, treatment was provided to her at Berhampur Hospital and later she was admitted in NIRTAR in the year 1978. Due to the dedicated services of the doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists who treated her, she has become near normal and she is able to lead a normal life after a prolonged stay of seven to eight years in NIRTAR. She has strong will power to meet the challenge. She is the longest surviving patient affected by quadriplegia. After her treatment, presently she is working as a special teacher in a school for visually impaired children in Bhubaneswar and has become a source of inspiration for many differently abled persons. Besides teaching, she is involved in social work and in writing. I saw her translated work of a Bengali book written by Ashapurna Devi tilted Je Jekhan Chilo into Oriya with the title �Mohamukthi�. The message we get from Ms. Indira Patnaik�s episode is that with willpower and determination, we can definitely overcome any problem. In addition, we can also become an inspiration for others. Now, I would like to narrate my experience during my visit to Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh, where a FRO camp was conducted for rehabilitating polio affected children.

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Technology restores dignity

During the camp, I met a 17 years old girl named Ms. Parijatha of Devarakadri Mandal in Mehaboob Nagar of Andhra Pradesh, who was affected by Polio and she lost the power in both her legs. She was not able to stand and she had to crawl even to go to the daily necessities. With her determination, she finished her primary education by going to the school crawling. However, when she came to high school, the school was far away and she discontinued her schooling. After fitment of the light weight calipers, she is now able to stand and walk with crutches. This has enabled her to go to the school. This action not only restored her academic career and mobility, but has also restored the dignity of the girl. With the help of teachers, she worked hard and has taken her 10th class examination privately this year.

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One lamp lights another

In the same Nalgonda camp, there were two other young boys called Raju and Srinivas from Nalgonda, who came for fitment of calipers. After fitment, they stayed back in the fitment centre and have learnt the technique of fitment and they are now themselves fitting and helping the fitment of calipers to other needy children. They are now working in a voluntary organization called �Commitments�.

Subsequent to Nalgonda camp, Dr. Narendranath of Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences and his team have conducted similar camps at Gangtok during this year. Based on these experiences, they are planning a camp for the whole north-eastern regions. Belgaum district Lions Club members are planning additional camps in the region. There is an initiative to fit FROs to more than 5000 polio affected persons in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka between Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences and Life Insurance Corporation of India. I am sure, other Corporates and orthopedics hospitals in different parts of the country will emulate this example and take up such missions for bringing the polio affected people to the mainstream of the society.

Now I would like to share with you how an inspiring couple despite their physical disabilities are spreading happiness and joy.

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Happiness and Joy through mutual support

Recently Dr. Namperumalswamy of Aravind Hospital Madurai gave me an autobiographical novel written by Shri Manohar Devadoss, a well known artist and chemistry professional. The events of the book titled Green Well Years are set in the temple city of Madurai in South India around the middle of the twentieth century. What is most striking is that, Shri Manohar Devadoss has been fighting for the last three decades a protracted battle against Retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition that is progressively edging ever close to total blindness. Manohar has lost none of his optimism and the book is ornamented with the wonderful sketches of Madurai of his younger days. Not only that, his wife Mahema herself is paralysed below the neck following a car accident. He believes that the support of his inspired wife and his memories of a happy boyhood have been crucial in helping him find the inner strength to face life with hope and good cheer. This aged couple we find that the husband is visually impaired and physically healthy, whereas the wife is visually capable but physically handicapped. I believe that this happy couple are using the individual advantage for complimenting their life to make it smooth. We have many many more examples of differently abled people either due to congenital problems or diseases or accidents or man-made events coping with the challenges and showing endurance and inspiring every one. While researches on genes should lead to more and more preventive and curative actions, we need to avoid needless disability due to human violence.

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Initiatives of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

I am very happy to know that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has taken the following initiatives.

1. Revision of schemes to expand the coverage of providing assistive devices free of cost or at concessional rate to needy persons with disabilities.

2. Established a national institute for multiple disabilities in Chennai which has started conducting short-term training programmes.

3. Establishment of a disability line in Mumbai and Delhi for providing information on disability related issues including facilities available to persons with disabilities.

4. Conducting 165 camps for distribution of aids and appliances in the north-eastern states covering over 11,000 people. Now, I would like to administer three point Oath for all of you.

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Three Point Oath for People with Special Abilities

We are all God�s children, our minds are stronger than diamond. We will win, win, win with our mighty will. When God is with us, who can be against!

2. I realize knowledge is very important for my progress. I will work hard and acquire the knowledge.

3. More I believe in myself, my strength multiplies. My willpower gives the confidence that I can do it.

Special people are our asset because they radiate confidence. Once again let me congratulate all the award winners and my best wishes to all the participants success in their mission of overcoming the impact of disability through technology.

May God bless you.

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