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Conversations on disability

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Here’s your chance to meet some truly inspiring people

On May 4, Godrej India Culture Lab is hosting The Freedom to Be Flawed—Awkward Conversations around Disability (5.30 p.m.). The discussion will focus on access and inclusion for people in disabilities in India.

The panelists include Divyanshu Ganatra, the country’s first blind paragliding pilot, Kartiki Patel, who has represented India in basketball as well as badminton, Nipun Malhotra, founder of the Nipman Foundation, and Virali Modi, an activist who has been fighting for accessibility in cities. Nidhi Goyal, a comedian with a visual disability, will begin the programme.

The event will also have an exhibition space that will include a printer from Maker’s Asylum where people can print their names in braille on pendants that they can take home. The printer was created during a STEAM workshop at Maker’s Asylum which saw 60 uniquely abled participants come together and work on four open source projects.

“Our curatorial focus this year at the Culture Lab is on invisibilisation,” says Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab. “With people with disabilities, we wanted to create a forum where you don’t need to be afraid of asking anything. There is power in starting a dialogue, and we wanted to create a safe space for it.” 

Divyanshu Ganatra
After losing his eyesight to glaucoma at the age of 19, Divyanshu Ganatra became India’s first blind solo pilot; first blind tandem cyclist to complete the 500+ kilometre ride from Manali to Khardung La and first blind student to

pursue college-level Psychology at the University of Pune. After being close to death and told that he will never climb again, he has scaled some of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. The key to Divyanshu’s ethos is imagination: “I may have lost my sight but I still have my vision.”

Divyanshu is the founder of two organisations. At Yellow Brick Road, he dons the hat of a behavioural facilitator, enabling programmes on Emotional Intelligence and Achievement Motivation. Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation is his non-profit organisation that promotes inclusivity through adventure sports for people with and without disability. Whether in the boardroom or on a mountain, Divyanshu strives relentlessly to make the world a more sensitive, empathetic, empowered space, filled with individuals who are willing to do more and be more.

Nipun Malhotra
Nipun Malhotra was born on September 1, 1987—blue, fractured and bleeding. He was diagnosed with arthrogryposis; the muscles in his arms and legs were underdeveloped and would stay that way. Nipun, who went to a regular school, topped the country in Business Studies in Class 12, and attended St. Stephen’s College, Delhi School of Economics and the Indian School of Business.

In 2012, he started the Nipman Foundation that works in the area of health and advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, where he is CEO. He is also a visiting Research Fellow at World Enabled, a Pineda Foundation initiative and a member of the CII National Committee on Special Abilities. that promotes inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the corporate sector. Among other things, he is on the board of directors at Vishwas, a non-profit working on disability and development and is Executive Director at a leading automotive fastener manufacturing company in India. He has also founded ‘Wheels for Life’ (www.wheelsforlife.in), a crowdsourcing platform connecting those who need wheelchairs to donors.

Virali Modi
Virali Modi is a 26-year-old wheelchair-bound woman. She is the creator of two campaigns, #MyTrainToo for accessible railways, through which she has made six stations and trains in the south totally barrier free and accessible. “I started this campaign because I was molested by the porters on three separate ocassions in Mumbai, while trying to board a train,” she says. #RampMyRestaurant is another campaign that’s in association with Enable Travel for accessible restaurants in India. “We started this campaign after I was denied entry into two restaurants because of my disability,” she explains.

Virali, who has won three awards, has also been named as one of the most influential and inspirational women of 2017 by BBC 100 Women, and was crowned as the First Runner Up in the 2014 Miss Wheelchair India pageant. She is a disability rights activist, working with Enable Travel as their Youth Expert, and is a motivational speaker, a writer, a model, and an actress.

Kartiki Patel
Kartiki Patel is an athlete and entrepreneur. Suffering from a permanent spinal cord injury at 25 did not deter Kartiki; she is now captain of the Indian Wheelchair Basketball team and a national level badminton player. She is also involved with a start-up focusing on adaptive fitness.

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