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One Touch At A Time - Dec 2009

One Touch At A Time - Dec 2009

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Published by Mindtree Ltd
MindTree Foundation - Journal
MindTree Foundation - Journal

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Published by: Mindtree Ltd on Dec 02, 2009
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12/02/2009

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December 3
rd
 International Dayof Persons with Disabilities
MindTree Foundation Journal | Raja Shanmugam
O
NE
T
OUCH AT A
T
IME
 –
 
D
ECEMBER
2009
 
One Touch at a Time December 2009 www.mindtreefoundation.orgDec 3
rd
is the
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
, as declared by the UN General Assembly.The day is meant for highlighting the cause of people with disabilities.
This year’s theme is “Making theMDGs Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world”.
MDG
 –
Millennium Development Goals.The day is used as a rallying point for driving change in the way the world treats its differently-abledcitizens
 –
most of them are still marginalized, treated with pity, considered as burden for the familiesand the society.Meetings, rallies, seminars and functions will be held around the world. Speeches will be given.Walkathons will be conducted. Awards will be given. Role Models will be felicitated. Songs and dances(most of them by the people with disabilities themselves) will be performed. Promises will be made.Free assistive devices
 –
Wheel chairs, prosthetics, hearing aids etc., will be distributed. New socialschemes and concessions will be announced.Dec 4
th
, life will go back to its usual grind.For those people with disabilities, hopes of dignity, acceptance and inclusion will continue to be a
distant dream. “Mainstreaming” a mirage. For the care givers, NGOs and the families, the struggle
willcontinue
 –
against apathetic support systems, incompatible infrastructure and an insensitive society.Their only hope is that all these awareness creation activities result in changes in behavior
 –
of the so
called “non
-
disabled”
. Throughout history, our environment, our systems, policies, customs and ourinfrastructure have evolved with very little consideration to these silent minorities. Their voices andaspirations largely suppressed.This can change. Because WE can change. It is not that difficult.
Let’s begin with
 
acceptance
 
 –
that weare all different in some ways and very similar in others. Significantly similar in most of our aspirationsand needs and wants
 –
to be treated as equals, to be loved, to be accepted, to be believed in, to bechallenged to do our best.The rest will follow. Miracles happen. I present to you three of them in the following pages. I am proudthat they wear MindTree badges.These are by no means the norm. We are way behind the recommended proportions of differently-abled people among us.Still, these are sparks that I hope could ignite more long lasting flames.Let the fires burn bright.Sincerely,Raja Shanmugam
 
One Touch at a Time December 2009 www.mindtreefoundation.org
My Professional Journey in MindTree
………………………..
Prashanth Kamath
 
I joined MindTree in August 2007. In these 2+ years, I have worked in at least a couple of interesting roles. First, Iwas part of the People Function (Genie Team) for well over a year. Then I was actively involved in the creation of abook
 –
authored by Mr. Subroto Bagchi (one of the co-founders of MindTree). And since the last 6 months or soI've been working on a couple of Technical Projects in the area of Assistive Technologies. All this is a reference towhere I stand today in terms of my professional career / life.As I'm putting this write up together, I just happened to ask myself 
 –
What is so special about anything that I'vedone so far? Quite frankly, nothing much. Many of my colleagues in office (a good 7 years younger to me) havemore number of achievements to their credit. Not only that, they also enjoy a fruitful / fulfilling family life of theirown.What sets me apart from most others
 –
is that I'm physically challenged. In my own experience so far in life
 –
 disability brings with it several odds / challenges. First, you are at a huge disadvantage in terms of what you can doand how much you can do. Then of course, you have competition. How can you possibly stand out
 –
when you'realready at a disadvantage? Also (in my case) everything came after a long wait. I had to wait 6 years before I couldget to School, another 4 years before I could step into College and another 5 years before I could get a job. So I cansay, I'm probably the oldest among my colleagues
 –
I hope it makes me that much more mature. And above all,you can take almost nothing for granted
 –
right when you need it the most
 –
your own voice, your own hands,your own body
 –
can fail you.When faced with such overwhelming odds, it's usually not a fight between you and the rest of the world. It is analmost never ending struggle involving only one person
 –
yourself. For instance, my typical day would start withme asking myself 
 –
How will I get to Office today? Once in office, I ask myself 
 –
Ok, now how do I get to my workdesk? It just goes on and on. More than anything else
 –
it's about Survival. Every chunk of work successfullycompleted is a reward in itself. And every accomplishment (no matter how small) calls for nothing short of acelebration.Coming back to my career in MindTree
 –
I can say it's been an eventful and memorable one so far. Just to put itinto perspective, I had almost no prior work experience before I joined MindTree. I never knew if I could survive
 –
 even for a couple of days. I can certainly say
 –
I wouldn't have survived
 –
if it had been any other company. Duringthe first couple of weeks, a stark realization set in
 –
my performance levels were much lower than my ownestimates
 –
and quite frankly, there was nothing that I could do about it. I knew I was good at certain things
 –
buthow could I add value to the company with my 'hidden skills'
 –
this was the biggest question on my mind.Fortunately for me, I was part of the Genie Team
 –
one of the best teams in MindTree - without a shadow of adoubt. I still have fond memories of all my colleagues there (in particular
 –
Lalitha, Faizal, Swapna, Meena, to namea few). I really cannot find the right words to express the sort of understanding, encouragement and support theyhave given me. Wherever I am today
 –
I certainly have them to thank for it. And, wherever I may be in future
 –
Isimply cannot forget any of them.I've already spoken about challenges. However, often every challenge brings with it an Opportunity. Sometimes,we can create opportunities
 –
where, seemingly, none existed. This is exactly what I ended up doing. That day I justhappened to write a
Thank you
email to all the Top Bosses at MindTree
 –
although I wouldn't recommend anyoneelse to try it out. What followed was an email from Mr. Subroto Bagchi
 –
who asked me to be his Research

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