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CavinKare Ability Award for Eminence

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CavinKare Ability Award for Eminence

The CavinKare Ability Award for Eminence is a single award for an Achiever with disability who has chosen to look beyond personal triumphs to serve society at large



Dejection and a life of resigned acceptance do not figure in Harman's scheme of things. A road accident that left him paralysed neck below, made him to look beyond himself and save others lives from road accidents. Harman established an NGO “ArriveSAFE” whose mission it is, to advocate policy level changes and create awareness on road safety.

For Harman Singh Sidhu of Chandigarh, it was an informed choice to dedicate his life to create awareness on road safety. This was based on his own experience which made him all the more determined to ensure that people be saved from the dire consequences of road accidents.

In a country like India, road safety is never a priority. Harman was hence determined to establish his NGO “ArriveSAFE” to work towards policy changes and advocacy on road safety and also to work with the police department to ensure road safety at various levels. “ArriveSAFE” is the first such NGO in this field. Right from incorporating safety awareness at school level, to conducting awareness workshops, to training the police staff in managing/handling traffic, widening horizons in road engineering, Harman has addressed all issues of road safety. Today, Harman has become a spokesperson in most matters relating to this and has represented the country at several international forums. Due to his determined, persistent efforts, several roads have become safer today and important traffic regulations introduced and implemented.


Harman's love for trekking and his interest in animals took him to the unruly and dangerous ghaat sections of Himachal Pradesh, where he met with a car accident.. He could not move out of the fallen car. When he was eventually rescued, there was no ambulance. It was a very difficult transition period for Harman from just looking at the ceiling of the room, to stepping out into the open. His body was paralysed neck down with partial movements of three fingers. Eventually, Harman overcame his own physical inabilities. Says Harman, “Things around me changed. All the time, for more than two years, while I was lying in bed, my thoughts constantly revolved around road safety. Thus was born “ArriveSAFE” in 2003. I just wished that everyone who drives out, returns home safe. The impact of road accidents on every member of the family – physiologically, emotionally, mentally, economically – is immense.”

When it came to actually carrying forward his dream, he however found, that no one really encouraged him, as the whole concept of road safety promotion was totally unheard of! Says Harman: “People compare road accidents to destiny. That is our culture but it is really much more than that. I wanted to go out in my wheelchair yelling this out, but everything takes time and I had to wait for a right opportunity.” Harman designed a website for Chandigarh Police that propagated safe and responsible driving. The primary challenge was to educate policy makers and this kick-started the process.

Harman's medical condition has deteriorated in the last four years and he has lost out on a luxury called “sleep”. His day begins with painkillers and sleeping pills to numb pain. “Even if I sleep for a brief while, the pain is excruciating after I get up. I fear the pain and avoid sleep,” is how Harman puts it.

Today, Harman is a stakeholder in Global Road Traffic Injury Prevention Project. He has also represented India in the “First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety”. His published papers include:

Status of road safety in South Eastern Asian region ; Indian Roads,

An Overview of Mobility and Safety Issues related to Highway Transportation in India

India's Motoring Revolution

He has participated in international conferences organised by the United Nations, World Health Organisation and British Broadcasting Corporation. At the National level, Harman has conducted innumerable workshops, presentations, road-shows, campaigns, multi-media screenings, etc., all of which aim at educating people to drive safely and arrive safely. He has put all obstacles behind him and is totally focused on doing everything in his power to ensure that everyone arrives home safe - serving the society at large and humankind in a unique way!



Time Management: Learning from MUMBAI DABBAWALLAS


To Realize

To realise the value of one year:

Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realise the value of one month:

Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realise the value of one week:

Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realise the value of one hour:

Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realise the value of one minute:

Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realise the value of one second:

Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realise the value of one millisecond:

Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.


Time waits for no one…..except for a few well-paid management educated executives. They seem to have joined an organisation to while away their time, be considered career oriented in society and sometimes maybe to take a break from a tyrant mother-in-law and return home refreshed ready to face the onslaught once again! Let's call her the Zero Time Valuer.

Let me elucidate by first commending the terrific efficiency, effectiveness and time management skills displayed by our Mumbai Dabbawallas and then return to this Zero Time Valuer mentioned above.

The Dabbawallas of Mumbai are a world renowned case study. B school students are exposed to the virtues of quality systems and management with emphasis on six-sigma as a learning paradigm. There is a connection between time management and the Dabbawallas saga as well, which is not emphasised in management texts.

Mumbai Dabbawalla, [Hindi: one who carries the dabba or lunch box] is a person in Mumbai India, whose job is carrying and delivering freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. Though the work sounds simple, it is actually a highly specialised trade that is over a century old and which has become integral to Mumbai's culture.

All Dabbawalla's belong to the Warkari community. They still wear the same attire with a Gandhi Topi or cap. At 19,373 persons per square kilometers, Mumbai is India's most densely populated city with a huge flow of traffic. Because of this, lengthy commutes to workplaces are common, with many workers travelling by train.

A collecting Dabbawalla, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas from homes or, more often, from the dabba makers (who actually cook the food). The dabbas have some sort of distinguishing mark on them, such as a colour or symbol as most Dabbawallas are illiterate.

The Dabbawalla then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting Dabbawallas sort (and sometimes bundle) the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box (usually there is a designated car for the boxes). The markings include the railway station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered. At each station, boxes are handed over to a local Dabbawalla, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

How they function:

Everyone who works within this system is treated as an equal. Regardless of a Dabbawalla's function, everyone gets paid about Rs 2000 to 4,000 per month. More than 175,000-200,000 lunches get moved every day by an estimated 4,500-5,000 Dabbawallas, all with an extremely small


nominal fee and with utmost punctuality. According to a survey, there is only one mistake in every 6,000,000 deliveries. The American business magazine Forbes gave a Six Sigma performance rating for the precision of the Mumbai Dabbawallas.

The BBC has produced a documentary on Dabbawallas, and Prince Charles, during his visit to India, visited them and he had to fit in with their schedule. Some of the Dabbawallas have been invited to give guest lectures in top business schools of India. Most remarkably, the success of the Dabbawalla trade involves no modern technology. The main reason for their popularity is the Indian people's love of home-made food delivered punctually.

The service is uninterrupted even on the days of extreme weather, such as Mumbai's monsoons. The local Dabbawallas at both ends are known to the customers personally, so that there is no question of lack of trust. Also, they are familiar with the local areas they cater to, which allows them to access any destination with ease. Occasionally, people communicate between home and work by putting messages on chits inside the boxes.

How they do it:

99.99% success rate ON TIME. EVERY TIME!

Each and every office goer gets their tiffin and lunch meal on time satiating their appetite with homemade food. The Dabbawallas are generally uneducated and illiterate, many don't even wear a watch but they perform to six sigma levels, day in and day out on time, relentlessly.

A six sigma process, a business management strategy, is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defects per million).

Switching to the Zero Time Valuer:

Let us switch to images of educated staff boasting first class degrees, but who do not deliver any task on time (consistently!). They have ten thousand and more excuses for not having delivered despite being supplied with factors and conditions, all favouring them. Air-conditioned plush offices, computer systems, hygienic surroundings, canteen service on their desks, telephones to make calls (personal or otherwise!), coffee machine conversations, smoke breaks, headache (and mother-in-law tantrum) leave's, expensive training sessions and more.

Imagine what will happen if one of the Dabbawallas thought “I am too tired to get up at 5.15 and I will get up at 6.15 am.” This means 15 customers would go without their daily meal. It is more of a realisation that the customer is the Annadataa giving them their lunch and not any other compulsion for work efficiency.

Maybe all these brand toting management graduates should be made to do a field internship with the hard working faultless and efficient Dabbawallas for some time!


Cooking Up a Storm

They say that the world is made up of two kinds of people. There are those who live to eat and there are others who eat to live. No matter which side of this debate you find yourself on, you need to eat. Our days are neatly divided into parts based on the meals that we have and cooking is just a recurring chore in our lives. A disabled person in his or her desire to be self-reliant also learns to cook, factoring in their disability.

Here we look at two views on this subject. Both of them offer a practical guide to ensure that our spaces and cooking processes can be tweaked a little bit to make it easier for the disabled to cook. While the first piece gives us a practical guide of sorts to prepare our kitchen space and cooking tools, the second is a personal account of a woman who does not find her disability coming in the way of her cooking up
a storm!




Born in a food fascinated Punjabi family, I always found myself in love with food and cooking. When I grew up and tried my hand at cooking some delicacies on my own, I was left with a feeling of complete dependence and dejection due to my physical limitations. The kitchen seemed to be the most complex part of the world where all I could see was inaccessibility. High cook tops, unreachable storage shelves, heavy cookware, lack of space to move around everything reflected a no entry sign board. My weak grip added to the misery by bringing in peeling, chopping, stirring and other cooking challenges. However, my firm goal to cook independently never allowed me to give up. Gradually I started finding alternatives to each cooking challenge and with a bit of management and a positive approach I could finally create a barrier free kitchen for myself.

I adopted a 3-way-approach for making my kitchen fully accessible to give me a comfortable cooking experience.

1. Space for easy movement

2. Accessibility to all the required items

3. Preparation and cooking adaptations

To achieve the first target of creating space easy movement following can be done -

Clear ground space

If you have a small kitchen then rearrange things in the way that it provides more room to turn and move the wheelchair freely. This can be done by looking for alternate storing space for the items which obstruct the walkway in the kitchen. For instance, a wall mounted or hanging stand can be an alternative for keeping articles that occupy ground space.

Organise to add space

Kitchen often gets stuffed with things that we rarely use. Trash anything that you do not use at all. Check out your utensil drawer or holder. Are there utensils there you never use and are just clutter? Are there too many spatulas and pancake turners? Are any items broken, stained, or rusty that could be thrown away to give you more room in your drawer or holder?

Identify those items which you do not use frequently and shift them to a different storage space outside your kitchen. If your utensils are in a drawer, install a drawer divider to keep them contained in one place so they don't slide all over.

If you work towards clearing your kitchen, you will be amazed at the number of unnecessary things occupying your kitchens space. Better throw the unwanted stuff or keep it at a different place if you are not using it regularly. Make monthly clearing a habit for better utilisation of space.

Once you have enough space in the kitchen for free movement then the target of easy access to all the required items can be attained to a great extend by these simple yet thoughtful ways.

If you find the kitchen counter too high then lower the height of the cook top or counter to the level where you can have a clear access to your cookware while cooking and can visually supervise the progress of cooking food. If that cannot be done then you can use cushioned wheelchair seat which will elevate you to a certain extent providing you a better reach to your gas stove.

Make sure you have free knee space under the cook top or gas slab so that your wheelchair can fit in. If there is close cabinet under the cook top then keep it empty enough to give you free leg space so that you can open the doors of the cabinet and reach to the level of your gas stove.




To quote the proverbial line, the route to a man's heart is through his stomach. However, with women treading, and sometimes overtaking men in all fields of life today, it is perhaps safe to generalise that the route to anyone's heart is through the stomach. And this seems to reflect on why television shows on cooking are gaining in popularity.

Surfing channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon can open up a recipe book of sorts, as each cooking show coaxes you to try out new and daring cuisines, or revisit traditional ones that evokes nostalgia in us. It is little wonder that shows like Nigella's Feast, Masterchef (both India and Australia), Highway on My Plate have cooked their way into the lives of the average householder. Of course, the title of the patriarch amongst Indian cooking shows would arguably go to Khaana Khazana. The smiling face of chef Sanjeev Kapoor, as he sifts through ingredients to create magic with food, is not forgotten easily as one tries to replicate such dishes within the confines of a house kitchen.

So where is the link between cooking and disability? It is a curious thing, but cookery shows are often the most disabled-friendly in terms of television programmes. This is because the correct quantities of ingredients are not only spoken out loud, but written as well, making it easy for the visually and hearing impaired to replicate it at home. It is almost like a self-reading recipe book that instructs you with detailed steps to churn out the perfect dish. However, it is the execution of this that has most people stumped in terms of accessibility.

What is the first reaction that one would have to 'cooking without looking'? Often, it is one of surprise or even apprehension, as one imagines so many hazards in a kitchen that simply need to be overcome by vision. Sharp knives, burning stoves, boiling water or even something as simple as switching ingredients. All these are part and parcel of a cooking process that needs to be made accessible. However, there are people all over the world who have been making this accessible and breaking kitchen barriers with immense perseverance. The premise behind this notion is often taken to be, 'We blind people eat, so why shouldn't we learn to cook?'

One such individual is Mrs. Veena Mehta, a visually impaired person working with NTPC in Delhi. After a long day's work at the office, her thoughts while getting back home are similar to what most of us have as well, 'What's cooking tonight?' Of course, the exception lies in the fact that she does the cooking.

With knives, gas stoves and boiling water instantly entering my head as possible perils, I tread the ground carefully while asking her. She instantly laughs and tells me that these are issues that need to be overcome with practice and familiarity with the cutlery being used. Of course, since gauging milk kept on boil is rather hard, she has procured a milk boiler, not very unlike a kettle. It hoots like a whistle when the milk has boiled and effectively prevents a nasty spill. For making fluffy phulkas, she uses a net like contraption with a handle that can directly be kept over the flame. This not only helps the rotis cook perfectly, but also prevents any direct contact with the flame and charring. Mehta believes that if she can be self reliant to cook vegetables and lentils by herself, it is but natural that she learn how to adapt in order to make rotis and paranthas as well.

Today, technology has managed to bridge the gap between barriers in kitchen. So what if one cannot read from grandma's recipe book? It can always be scanned and read with a screen reading software. Most of Mehta's recipes are also taken from the internet. In fact, she likes trying out new

recipes when she invites people over for dinner.

Storing ingredients in various sized containers not only help in recognition by touch, but can be verified by smelling or tasting them. Like Mehta says, 'I have to keep my chilli powder container far apart from everything else! I would hate to substitute salt or sugar with chilli accidentally!'

Of course, Braille labels can be stuck on identical containers, helping differentiate between the contents. Another ingenious idea would be to tie rubber bands on containers – one for sugar, two for salt etc. Therefore, where vision fails, olfactory and tactile senses overtake and compensate.

But this still does not solve the problem of impending fire hazards or injuries, does it? A little bit of additional caution needs to be exercised. This is something that everyone must follow in general, because the best of cooks have cut their hands in a momentary lapse of attention. As for the stoves, many new contraptions that are completely electric and made of a single gas-less frame are being employed these days in kitchens. One such stove, the Touch and Turn is in fact, endorsed by the Royal National Institute for Blind People. This is not only safe for operation without any fire; it is also helpful in checking when the food has fully cooked.

So can cooking be done by the disabled? Of course, and sometimes they can give most people a run for their money, because they refine their taste and smelling capabilities over the years, and can pick out the finer nuances of a dish remarkably well. Initiation into the kitchen is a very important aspect of cooking by the disabled. As Mehta says, 'Most families do not allow the disabled to cook. They feel it is unnecessary and sometimes hazardous, and don't encourage cooking at all. True, it can prove to be dangerous if one is immediately thrust into a kitchen. But acquiring the skill over a long period of time and perfecting it can overcome all these barriers. It is like any other occupation one tries to perfect.' Adjustments need to be made within a kitchen to make it more disabled-friendly, yes. But in the long run, it is rewarding to know that the kitchen is another area where the disabled have conquered with panache and relative ease.

There are issues that need to be resolved with the co-operation of other family members as well. As Mehta rightly says, 'My kitchen is organised in a particular way so I prefer being the sole user of it. For me, cooking is a one-time process. Getting out in the middle often results in burnt food, because my mind slips from it completely. Also, I keep ingredients in specific places so I have easy and familiar access to them. When other members of the family cook with me, they may replace containers and ingredients in unfamiliar spots which often cause me trouble. Finally, checking quality of vegetables while cutting them or cleaning them, my maid takes care of.' All these seem very valid. In fact, Mehta also uses a talking microwave, one of the first in the country, which guides her with the accurate timing and temperature. After registering my awe as she talks effortlessly about cooking without looking, she laughs and tells me that it isn't any novelty to her, but a routine task that requires only practice and familiarity, with some caution.

It is often easy to point out and address accessibility issues in the public areas. But addressing them within the confines of home, and remedying them with simple and small solutions can prove to be far more valuable. This is because every accessibility step addressed at home is a step towards self-reliance, something that everyone, both disabled and otherwise, wishes to have.


Make Way For DR EMU!


The sounds of birds and animals resonate as you enter the area. The deer invite us with their funny antics at the entrance. Emu, deer, rabbits, turtles and different types of birds, all live side by side in this place. We are not talking about a zoo here or even a park where you usually see these creatures. We are talking about a much more serious place, normally associated with grimness and pain…we are talking about a hospital!

The Pet Therapy Center as it is called is part of the St Johns Hospital in Bangalore. St Johns has dedicated two acres of land to maintain the 30 odd varieties of birds and animals in its huge lush green campus of 132 acres. “It was started in 1998. Our Administrator at that time, Fr Sebastian came up with the idea," Dr Sunny Chunkapura, Resident Medical Officer of the hospital said. “It was already popular in the western countries but even now it is at a nascent stage in India," he added.

Pet Therapy is specially meant for patients with physical and mental disabilities and paralysis besides also patients with psychiatric problems, cardiology ailments and pediatric ailments. Though it is not administered as a stand-alone therapy, it assists in the treatment process. “The interaction with the pets makes patients happy and they feel good. Our body produces a hormone called Endorphin which is basically related to the 'feeling' of well being. This helps in improving the immune system which again helps a person to recover faster," explained Dr Sunny.

There are different kinds of therapy existing like music or dance therapy. So, how different is this therapy from the rest? Well, not much actually. "It is the same way music or dance therapy works. In pet therapy, patients suffering from various forms and degrees of illness interact with animals in natural surroundings. Each patient prefers a therapy which they would enjoy. For some, it is music; for some dancing does the trick and for few others just being amongst nature and animals helps them


The pets do not need any training as they are already friendly and are not the types which would harm anyone. There is an array of colorful and chirpy birds which would take out the illness in a patient in no time. Some of the 'Dr' birds present there are the African Love Birds, Zebra Finch, Diamond Dove, Barbary Dove, Java Sparrow and the Budgerigar. But there are two serious contenders for the most favorite pet amongst them and they are the Emu and the Deer. In fact, one of the deer also has the name of Sita. “This name was given to her by an artist who used to visit the center regularly at the time the center was started," said Dr Sunny. Some of the patients also bring with them food to feed these animals and birds. The pets too, on their part, wait for their 'friends' to come with some eatables!

The Pet Therapy Center is so popular that it does not need to be recommended by the doctors.The patients take off on their own for a tour of the place along with their relative or friend. The center though is open only during certain times of the day. “It is mostly in the evenings that most patients visit the center. After all, the animals and birds too need their own space," he explained. The center receives about 30 to 40 patients on a daily basis.

S Khasin Pera is a native of Hyderabad. This 66-year-old who came to St Johns Hospital for a treatment in the leg, cannot get enough of the pet therapy center. “Everything about this place is so positive. Being in the room, with very little access to sunlight, I become very dull. But coming here, it lightens up my mood and refreshes me. The deer are so cute and makes


me smile, you know. It makes me forget about my illness and I become one among the nature too. They are very playful,” he said in an excited tone.

The hospital is expected to make more additions to the therapy center with some more birds and animals making their appearance soon!

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