Let's learn from Siddharth who has just won the Helen Keller Award 2009
Perhaps I have written about him before. But I feel good writing about him again. And not for nothing.
December 2 has been a special day for a special child, twice over. This year, G J Siddharth is just back from Delhi after receiving the prestigious National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) Helen Keller award from union human resources development minister Kapil Sibal. The award is in recognition of his exemplary work in helping disabled people find positions of equality and dignity in the workplace. Siddharth is the only person from south India to have received the award this year.
On the same day in 2005, Siddharth was picked up from his home in Nandanam and driven to the airport to meet India’s First Citizen, the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam. The President had earlier responded to Sidharth’s email, saying, “You are indeed a great role model to the able-bodied as well as special children. When I visit Chennai, I will be happy to meet you.” When Siddharth, stunned at receiving the mail, volunteered to go to New Delhi to meet him, the President told Siddharth that he, the President himself, would meet him in Chennai.
Siddharth’s is a story of courage and determination. Immediately after birth, he was infected with jaundice. However, doctors failed to recognise the illness. After five months, when parents Jayakumar and Komala sought specialist help, their son’s problem was diagnosed as ‘mental’. It was only four years later, after detailed examination, that Siddharth was diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy.
Following a year at the Spastics Society of India, Bangalore, Siddharth was admitted to the Spastics Society of India, Madras (now Vidya Sagar). He proved to be an excellent student and in 1995 moved to a normal school, Boston Matriculation HS School, Nandanam. In Class 10, Siddharth scored 80%; he could not draw diagrams and was not allowed to do the practical examination. In Class 12, he cleared the Board examination scoring 90% overall. After completing BCom from Vivekananda College in 2002, he went on to complete his MA Economics from Loyola College in 2004; he aggregated 74% in four semesters.
At a job fair organised by Ability Foundation, ABN Amro (now Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS Group), impressed by Siddharth’s academic record, selected him as trainee officer in 2005. He is now an executive. “It is a very responsible job. I check export and import documents for mistakes based on international banking standards and practice. I enjoy my work and feel at home. The support from my colleagues is almost unbelievable,” explains Siddharth, who is the first Certified Documentary Credit Specialist (CDCS) with cerebral palsy in India. His mission is to carry out social work, particularly for uplifting the lives of people with multiple disabilities.
Let there be many, many more people like Siddharth.
Picture shows Siddharth receiving the award from Kapil Sibal. Shekar Gupta of the Indian Express can be seen in the background, cheering.