Monthly Archives

December 2019

INDIA MS PERSON OF THE YEAR 2019

By | Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, General, Hyderabad, Indore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune | No Comments

INDIA MS PERSON OF THE YEAR! 2019 Group Captain Prabal Malaker

A retired Indian Airforce Test Pilot who has flown almost every aircraft in the Air Force inventory in his time from MIGs’, Jaguars’, and Mirages’, to large transport carriers like the Avro and AN-32. He is a qualified flying instructor, who has imparted training to several young pilots.

His message to fellow MS persons is very straight forward, “If you have a problem, accept it. Work within those challenges and carry on with life. Keep your mind strong and paths will open up”, says a 63-year-old Multiple Sclerosis (MS) person, who has never learned to give up against all odds.

Life seemed to be going well until August 1998, when he was diagnosed with the progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. He had a near-death experience when his plane, upon landing caught fire. Neurologists said that this could have possibly triggered off an autoimmune response to cause MS. In 1999, he was permanently downgraded from flying and his career came to a standstill. He had to retire from active service at the young old age of 52 years!

This was the time when he was introduced to MSSI Delhi by none other than Mrs. Sheela Chitnis, Co-founder of MSSI, by his sister Gopa who was living in Mumbai at that time. He joined the Delhi office as a volunteer to serve many other people like him. He has been in a leadership role and together with a team of some very dynamic volunteers who work shoulder to shoulder to improve the lives of people living with MS. He has been instrumental in setting up systems and procedures for smooth execution of projects, services, and initiatives that are offered to registered members of the society within Delhi NCR.

Prabal is a foody and a movie buff, however, going to movie halls and restaurants in a wheelchair was becoming a challenge since most of these places were not handicap friendly. He decided instead of getting stuck in the house and giving up all the things he enjoyed he would embark on a single point mission; To bring about change in movie halls and restaurants so that a wheelchair user could enjoy barrier-free access. Due to his single-handed and persistent effort, the Disability Commissioner has served notice to Movie Hall Operators which includes PVR, INOX, and Cinepolis A notice has also been served to 480 restaurants and the hotel of Delhi State to conform to the harmonized guidelines of barrier-free access for PwD.

Being an avid traveller, he has conducted accessibility audits for hotels and tourist sites in Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ranakpur, Sarnath, Varanasi and Sri Lanka for a Cox & Kings Accessible Holiday segment called Enable Travel.

He heads the advocacy arm of the MSSI Delhi chapter and has been engaging with the Delhi State Disability Commissioner on a regular basis to bring about change in policy and assessment guidelines for disability and advocates for the right of people with Multiple Sclerosis.

We wish him good luck and good health always!

Disability Week Bengaluru Chapter

By | Bengaluru | No Comments

As a part of Disability Week Bengaluru Chapter showcased the #My Invisible MS campaign photographs at ANZ, Bengaluru. More than 500 people visited the kiosk and Shankar Subramanian gave a talk on disability etiquettes and invisible disabilities.

 

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

By | Delhi, General | No Comments

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It has been observed with varying degrees of success around the planet. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life. Each year the day focuses on a different issue. This years theme is, “The Future is Accessible”.

As a part of the national advocacy action plan we had identified the need to address the poor understanding of MS among external stakeholders, disability groups, government, media, and the general public. MSSI members, volunteers and persons with MS along with their caregivers participated in the Symbolic Walk to Freedom that started from the iconic India Gate in the capital city of New Delhi to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This event was organized by NCPEDP and the America India Foundation. Before the walk, MSSI’s India MS Person of the year, 2019 Gp. Capt. Malaker, along with members of other newly recognized disabilities were invited on the dias to release the blue and yellow balloon as a symbol of freedom from the bondage which is social, psychological, societal and individual. There was a gathering of nearly 5000 people and we were able to create a lot of visibility and awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. We gave away pamphlets with information about MS & MSSI. As a way to create awareness, we displayed placards with slogans that convey the need of the hour for Multiple Sclerosis which included Know Multiple Sclerosis, Change assessment guidelines, No Data on Multiple Sclerosis, No research, Reduce cost of Treatment.

Ironically even though the theme is Future is Accessible, that is not the reality on the ground for a person living with MS in India because they are still struggling with inappropriate assessment guidelines, lack of data of prevalence of MS in India, no research on drugs and treatment that might work. All of this leads to lack of access to schemes, social benefits, insurance and employment. We have a lot to do to change that.

Participating at national level events provided impetus to our work in the area of advocating for the rights of persons with MS.

REPORT ON WORLD DISABILITY DAY

By | Chennai | No Comments

International Day of Persons with Disability was observed on the 3rd of December 2019. The theme for this year was “The Future is accessible.”

Marina beach is one of the longest beaches in Chennai city. The Greater Chennai Corporation in observing the International Day of Person with Disabilities based on the theme “The Future is accessible”. They organized an ‘accessible walkway’ in Marina Beach for the disabled people to Experience the roaring waves of the Bay of Bengal.

The event was inaugurated by the Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner, Mr.G.Prakash and State Disability Commissioner Mr. Johny Tom Varghese. ‘3 Specialized Wheel Chairs’ were provided by Greater Chennai Corporation to take a ride along the sands and reach the seashore safely and conveniently.

Disabled people came from different organizations and MSSI to experience the seawater. Chennai Chapter team took part in this initiative and a few of the MS Persons accessed the walkway through the beach wheelchair and enjoyed a few moments in the seawater. A dip in the seawater was the joy for many differently-abled persons.