Technology has made differently-abled people’s life independent says Mr Mahantesh
Being differently abled is no hindrance for achieving greater heights. This has been aptly proved by Bengaluru based Mr Mahantesh G K, Founder and Managing Trustee of Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled . Despite losing his vision due to typhoid when he was hardly six months old, he still strived to be a visionary and help thousands of differently-abled. Mr Mahantesh, believes that the advent of new technology has bridged the gap between the differently-abled and the abled and has certainly made differently-abled people independent. Recently at an event organized to commemorate the International Day for the Disabled on December 3, 2014 in Bengaluru, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled was awarded for exceptional services in the institutions category by Karnataka Government. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Mr. Mahantesh:
TS: Can you tell us briefly about yourself and coming up of Samarthanam?
Ans: I lost my vision when I was six months old to typhoid. Though I was born into a middle class family as a child with visual impairment I could not be enrolled into mainstream school though I was quite a brilliant child. I had to study in a residential special school hundreds of kilometres away from my family. But after completing schooling thinking of attending college for a person like me was almost impossible. First of all colleges back then were not prepared to enroll us. Even if they were somehow convinced to provide us an opportunity lack of lodging and boarding facilities would compel us to drop the idea of perusing further education. As all of us are aware poverty and disability usually go hand in hand. I saw many of my friends drop out and take up menial jobs back in their villages or idling just because of this problem. This was the primary reason for starting Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. The purpose was to provide free residential facility with nutritious food to enable disabled students to continue their education beyond 10th and reach the heights of their dreams.
Second and most important reason was cricket! As many of you must know we blind people play cricket too. There are thousands of blind cricketers in India who wish to play for their states and country. But the difficulty behind organizing cricket tournaments is finding basic hygienic accommodation for the players. Potential players and students remained without ambition or aspiration and idle just because they did not have a place to stay while perusing their dreams. This fact forced us to acquire a rented building for running hostels from where the journey of Samarthanam began in the year 1996.
TS: How has the advent of new technology helped differently-abled people?
Ans:Technology has made disabled people’s life independent. It has helped them perform several responsibilities independently, efficiently and with speed and precision. Technology has bridged the gap between disabled and non disabled. It has helped in mainstreaming and multiplied employment opportunities, opened newer vistas of communications and helped do the same effectively. It has uplifted and alleviated the living status.
TS: How is the role of government towards upliftment of differently- abled citizens? What changes needs to be brought about?
Ans: Government has come out with new innovative schemes and programs to introduce new technology at various levels and fields. Physical, information accessibility is still a challenge. There is a lot of scope to improve in the area. Government is getting sensitive about the issues but speed of implementation is still an area requiring improvement.
TS: Your reaction to the recent award bestowed on Samarthanam for exceptional services?
Ans: These awards are a testimony for our service to society. Samarthanam’s mission is to empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged people through developmental initiatives focusing on educational, social, economic, cultural and technological aspects. We envision to empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged people to become tax payers and not dole recipients. Our vision is to touch the lives of 100,000 persons with disabilities by 2020. These awards will only motivate and encourage us to intensify our efforts further.
TS:Way forward? New plans of the organization?
Ans:We have an ambitious goal of acquiring pan India presence while touching 100,000 lives by 2020. We are also looking at making the income generation projects (Kirana – rural BPO and Parisara – environment project) not only self sustained but generating revenue for the organization’s education programs. We are also looking at making CABI (Cricket Association for the Blind in India) independent and self sustained body providing thousands of blind cricketers in the country an opportunity to achieve their aspirations and lastly create accessible information and infrastructure.