Hon'ble Governor of Tamil Nadu Shri. Banwarilal Purohit inaugurates the South Zone Regional Abilympics in Chennai


by Shrutee K/DNS
Chennai, 19thJuly 2019: This was not an ordinary classroom, nor an ordinary training centre or neither a mundane event. This was for differently-abled individuals. 22 year old, Ghulam Ahmed Raja is a 50% visually impaired, Aerospace Engineering student who designed a poster for an Ice Cream shop with a hope of winning the desktop publishing competition at Tattvāloka Auditorium in Chennai today. Similarly 22 year old Sanchit Khule from Pune who is 100% visually impaired, studying at IIT Madras got to know about Regional Abilympics from his professor. Although he studies coding, he found floral arrangement interesting and took part in it. Flagged off today, South Zone Regional Abilympics or Chennai Abilympics is a skill-based competition that provided a platform for the differently-abled. Organised every year, its events test competitors’ mental, physical and creative abilities. Participants get a chance to display skills at everything from computer programming to Bakery to floral arrangement.

The event hosted by the National Abilympics Association of India (NAAI), under the aegis of Sarthak Educational Trust with the support of The Hans Foundation, witnessed participation of over 60 people with disabilities (PwDs) participated in various vocational skills competitions on the Day 1. The South Zone Regional Abilympics Day 2 will see Job Fairs conducted by 25 companies at NSDC for Differently Abled, (NSTI) Campus (VRC for Handicapped), Guindy Industrial Estate, Chennai.

The Inaugural Ceremony was graced by Shri. Banwarilal Purohit (Hon'ble Governor of Tamil Nadu), Dr. V Saroja, Minister for Social Welfare and Nutritious Noon Meal Programme, Tamil Nadu, Krishan Kalra, President, NAAI, and Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Sarthak & Secretary General- NAAI.
"Abilympics have been the Olympics showcasing the abilities and tremendous competitive zeal of PwDs" shared, Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Sarthak & Secretary General- NAAIwhile adding " Understanding the potential amongst these talented people, Sarthak educational Trust and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation have come together and signed a MOU that plans to train over 5 lakh PwDs from southern states of India in the field of agriculture by providing livelihood model training to PwDs in the rural parts of India". He also shared 65% Divyangjan live in villages and Sarthak Education Trust intends to reach out to rural employment". 

Chief Guest of the function Shri. Banwarilal Purohit (Hon'ble Governor of Tamil Nadu) shared, “Persons with Disability in India face many challenges when looking to develop employable skills and in gaining meaningful employment. According to a survey conducted by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People (NCPEDP), the percentage of PwDs in the multinational companies is as less as 0.05% of the total workforce. Although it is mandate for the government organization to have 3% of the total work force reserved for people with disability, the actual percentage which is occupied is only 0.54%. I am happy to see that Sarthak is striving to enable PwDs to stand independent through enabling them to earn their livelihood through skill building and prominent support”. One of the major attractions of the event is the job fairs on the day 2 wherein over 25 companies from each region will conduct their hiring drive for PwDs across the country. This year companies like Capgemini, Aegis Global, Reliance Retail, Puma, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), Sutherland, Big Basket, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Wipro, Barclays, Flipkart, RRT Global outsourcing Asia, Minda, Mahindra Finance etc will be conducting a drive to hire PwD’s.

Mr. Krishan Kalra, President, NAAI shared, "Sarthak and NAAI have been trying to highlight the issue that nearly 30million PWD's in the country are looking for jobs and empowerment and not charity and sympathy. There are many jobs that they can do better than the able bodied person, today’s event should be of great help in the endeavor. Abilympics gives exposure and creates awareness for the PwDs and we are happy to announce that from Regional level Abilympics and National level Abilympics, Sarthak and NAAI shall be taking 20 gold medalists to International Abilympics”. Since its inception in 2001, Regional Abilympics have seen an immense growth with several stakeholders such as the Government, Corporate houses, prospective employers, crowd-funding platforms, investors, and start-ups joining hands to extend their support and appreciate skills of PWDs.
The Chennai Abilympics was spread across 4 zones and 10 vocational segments, including ICT (Character Designing, Desktop Publishing, and E Sports), Crafts (Floral Arrangement), Food (Cooking and Bakery), Services (Jewellery,Tailoring/Dress Making, and Beauty Therapy), and Architecture designing through CAD. The winners in each segment will represent their zones at the National Abilympics and stand a chance to represent India in the International Abilympics 2020 slated to take place in China.
A Regional Conference on ‘Corporate Progression Toward Inclusion and Diversity’ was also held and saw participation of several Government officials, NGOs, Corporates and their CSR heads, discussing prospects and scope of empowering and providing sustainable livelihood to PWDs in order to help them lead a dignified life.empics will be held in Kolkata on 9thAugust 2019.

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