Kedar Indurkar is a recipient of the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Accepting whatever Nature has given to him, Kedar has surmounted immense challenges to become a friend to visually challenged people, by translating books into Braille language. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment felicitated him with the national award in the ‘Self employed - cerebral palsy category’ on the World Disability Day. He spoke about his intrepid journey to SUPRIYA SHELAR
. It’s inspiring for all of us to see you busy translating books in Braille. Who inspired you to undertake this challenging task ?
My friends inspired me. Actually, I was getting bored sitting at home, empty-handed and empty-minded. My friends suggested that I translate books into Braille for our visually challenged friends. Initially, I began the work to simply pass time. It was about ten years back that I translated my first book. Slowly, I started loving the work.
How has the entire experience been ?
It was really great and I enjoyed all the translations. As I can’t understand Braille, I use different softwares to type and translate the books. The first translation I did was of my mother’s pathology notes.
The first book I translated into Braille was Sudha Murthy’s ‘Wise and Otherwise’. Later, I translated fourteen books from English, Hindi and Marathi, including eight books penned by Sudha Murthy, two by Rahul Dravid’s mother-in-law Jayashree Pendharkar, and four other books. I work as per the requirement and demand.
What are the difficulties you face while translating the books into Braille ?
As I said earlier, I do not understand the Braille language. Secondly, my left hand doesn’t work, and I have to work with only three fingers of my right hand. So it takes lot of time to type the words. I completed one translation in almost one year. Again, it’s a costly affair. In case of Sudha Murthy and Pendharkar, both of them had sponsored translations of their books.
Is there any response from Sudha Murthy ?
Yes. Before translating Sudhaji’s first book, my mother had written to her asking for her permission. She happily permitted me to translate her books. She also invited me for the release of her book ‘Sukeshini’ at Kolhapur and felicitated me. I was given a standing ovation. It was the happiest moment of my life for me and my parents.
And what about visually challenged people ? Do they like the books ?
They liked the books very much. My father has given the books to three or four blind schools in Pune, to Baba Amte’s Anandvan Blind School, and some blind schools in Karnataka as well. Rahul Deshmukh, a visually challenged person, who runs the Snehankit school in the city for visually challenged people was very happy to read the books.
Any other responses that encouraged you to do the task with more interest ?
Yes. Baba Amte’s letter, admiring me and my work, is memorable. It always encourages me. My father Vasant Indurkar, a chartered accountant, and mother Dr Suhasini, a professor in pathology at the Bharati Vidyapeeth and my sister Ketki, who is a software engineer, are also a source of energy for me. They always support me and stand behind me in every situation.
I uttered my first word at the age of five. It must have been extremely difficult for my parents to bring me up. But they took every possible effort for me. I feel proud that I have made them proud of me.
Tell us something about your schooling. It must have been difficult for you to pursue education.
Yes. It was very difficult for me to pursue conventional education. Till fifth standard, I studied in normal school in Delhi. Then we shifted to Pune, where we faced lots of problems in getting admission to a normal school. None of the schools supported me, saying that I would not be able to study with normal students. So my parents taught me at home and I appeared for the tenth examination from National Open School, Delhi. I also completed C-DAC’s Diploma in Information Technology and web-designing course from a private institute.
What are your hobbies ?
Listening to Indian classical music and film songs is my favourite passtime. I also love to watch cricket matches. In fact, its my weakness. Rahul Dravid is my favourite cricketer, whom I met in person during test matches at Nagpur in 2004, when Rahul introduced me to the entire team. Whenever there are cricket matches, I take a break from my translations and watch the matches on TV. Chatting with friends on different social networking sites is another hobby. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
What message will you give to other differently abled people ?
I would like to tell my friends not to get disappointed at other’s comments. People often view us as useless. They think that persons like me cannot do anything in life. But it’s not true. Given an opportunity, we also can contribute to society’s well-being. So try your level best to achieve whatever you want.
Are you happy with the facilities provided to disabled persons in India ?
No. I am not satisfied with the facilities in public places like auditoriums, which are not disabled-friendly everywhere in India. There are problems in travelling, in attending public functions, etc. There are no ramps in buildings or public transport buses. Also people’s attitude towards us keeps us away from the mainstream. A few years back, I was in the US with my family. I was impressed with the preferential treatment given to disabled people and the facilities provided to them in US. I visited museums and enjoyed a ship ride in the Niagara Falls. I also noticed the sensitivity among general public towards disabled persons. I often tell my sister to get a job in the US so that I can enjoy those facilities. All these facilities are lacking in India.