Employment > Awards > N.C.P.E.D.P. - Shell Helen Keller Awards 2005
Persons with disabilities represent 6-7% of the Indian population of over 1 billion people. Yet, despite the passage of The Disability Act, 1995 mandating a 3 per cent reservation in Government jobs, only 1 lakh of a total population of 7 crore have been employed in ‘regular' jobs over the last 45 years (since the first special employment exchange was set up by the Government of India in 1959).
go to this year's list of awardees
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) conducted a survey of Indian private and public corporations, included in Business India 's Super 100 list of 1998. Needless to say, the findings of the survey were extremely disappointing. This survey, undertaken in 1999, revealed that the private sector employed a mere 0.28 per cent people with disabilities, while the public sector employed 0.54 per cent. Multinational Corporations had hired only 0.05 per cent disabled people in India .
This led to the Institution of The NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Awards, in 1999 to honour those individuals and companies who are working towards ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities in their place of work. This also acknowledges those disabled people who have not allowed their disability to become a handicap and have become role models for the community. Organizations too are felicitated for their role in creating employment opportunities for disabled people and for breaking the myth that employing disabled people affects the bottom-line of the organization.
This is the 7 th year of The NCPEDP Shell Helen Keller Awards, and over time they have received incredible support and recognition from the concerned sectors. An indication of this would be the increase in the number of nominations received each year. For instance, in 2000 we received only 40 nominations. The number has been steadily increasing over the years. This year we have received 64 nominations under three categories. This rising number of nominations each year encourages us in our work for this cause and is also a step forward in our movement to gain rights for people with disabilities.
In 2004 the Selection Committee approved of a suggestion from our partners Shell India Pvt. Ltd. to reduce the number of categories under which the Awards are given to three under each category. The following three categories were approved:
Category A: Disabled persons from within and outside the disability sector who have been active as ambassadors of the cause of employment for disabled people and are a positive role model for others (3 Awards).
Category B: Role Model Supporter of Increased Employment Opportunities for Disabled People: Individuals from within the disability sector and outside who have contributed substantially to the cause of promoting employment opportunities for disabled people over an extended period of time (3 Awards).
Category C: Companies / organizations / institutions who share our vision and through their policies and practices demonstrate their belief in equal rights and gainful employment for persons with disabilities (3 Awards).
The nominations received are thoroughly evaluated and short listed, and are then placed before a Selection-Committee of eminent persons. Individuals receiving the Award are given a medal, organizations are given a trophy and both receive a citation. The Awards are presented on 2 nd December, the eve of World Disability Day, in New Delhi . A publication containing write-ups on the winners is also brought out by NCPEDP on this occasion.
The presentation ceremony of the 7 th NCPEDP-Hellen Keller Awards shall take place in the Commission Room, 3 rd Floor of Federation House, Tansen Marg on Friday 2 nd , December 2005, from 4 pm to 5pm.
Shri. Arjun Singh, Hon'ble Minister for Human Resources Development will be the Chief Guest and Shri. Vikram Singh Metha, Country Chairman, Shell Group of Companies in India will preside.
It is estimated that over 200 people will witness the Award Ceremony.
The awardees of this year are as follows:
Disabled persons from within and outside the disability sector who have been active as ambassadors of the cause of employment for disabled people and are a positive role model for others.
S. Sankara Raman
Amar Seva Sangam
Sulochana Gardens , Post Box No. 001, Tensaki Road , Ayikudy – 627 852.
Phone.: 91-4633-267710, 267317.
E-mail: a m email@example.com
It was sheer determination that got S. Sankara Raman, a wheelchair user afflicted with muscular dystrophy since childhood, through school and college. Moreover, his physical condition didn't deter him from passing his Chartered Accountancy, and that too with a gold medal!
In 1992, at the age of 30, he came across S. Ramakrishnan and all the work that was being done by Amar Seva Sangam for rehabilitating physically challenged children. Without hesitation, he gave up his lucrative practice, and plunged whole-heartedly into his life's dream: that of empowering disabled citizens by establishing a ‘Valley of the Disabled' as a Rehabilitation and Development Centre.
Today, Amar Seva Sangam has a full-time home for 60 disabled children with integrated education, mobility aids and medical support, a day-care centre for 40 mentally challenged children as well as a hostel for 105 physically challenged youth, who are taught vocational skills. It has also set up a computer-training centre for people with disability and has assisted in designing disabled-friendly EMU coaches for Mumbai.
Village-based rehabilitation initiatives include spreading awareness about disability among 60 lakh rural poor, spread over 4 blocks of 330 villages in Tamil Nadu and the formation of 75 self-help groups consisting of 800 members.
For his selfless service over the years, S. Sankara Raman has been honored repeatedly by the Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu, and numerous other organizations and bodies.
Harish Kumar P. Kotian
Manager (Department of Information Technology), Reserve Bank of India
B-18, RBI Officers Quarters, Ameer Peet, Hyderabad – 500 016
At a very young age, while studying in Class IX, Harish had a firecracker accident, which left him with 100% visual impairment. Harish and his family then spent two years in attempting to restore his sight through a series of unsuccessful operations.
After a rehabilitation programme, Harish resumed his studies, while joining Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as a telephone operator. His tenacity paid off – he not only graduated in Economics and Political Science, but also completed his post graduation, attending evening classes at Mumbai University . Simultaneously, he also attended a diploma programme in business management and software development, becoming the first visually challenged computer programmer in India !
Harish is actively involved in the promotion of computer literacy to visually impaired persons, and is a consultant to organizations such as Vinayan Project of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; Indian Guild for the Blind and the Computer Society of India. He has also made several presentations promoting IT education for the visually disabled at the International Council for the Visually Impaired, and has been part of an International initiative on development of an open source DAISY format e-text player for the visually challenged.
Harish's achievements do not stop at helping others – he participated in the first mountaineering expedition for the disabled, scaling the 17,200 ft. Kshitidar peak in Manali, and was a runner up in a navigational car rally organized by All India Automotive Racing Club!
Harish has been awarded the ‘Star of the Millennium' by the Governor of Karnataka, the Piloo Kambatta Memorial Best Employee Award in 2000, and the Best Employee Award in the visually impaired category by the Ministry of Empowerment and Social Justice in 2003.
Founder & President, Helpers of the Handicapped, Kolhapur
‘Nasheman', 235/11, E, Tarabai Park , Kolhapur – 416 003.
At the tender age of 16, Naseema was afflicted with paraplegia, was bedridden and confined to her room. At a time filled with despair, her father came to her help, telling her “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle, Khuda bande se khud pooche – bataa teri raza kya hai” (Raise yourself to such heights that God himself asks you as to what you desire). Even though her father passed away shortly after, she remembered his words and was charged with a new zeal to face her future with courage and fortitude.
Armed with a positive outlook, she obtained a degree in Economics, got herself a job, and eventually rose to the post of Deputy Office Superintendent of Customs & Central Excise, completely on her own merit.
Recognizing that her success was partly due to the opportunities available to her, she wanted to do something for the less privileged, and in 1983, started `Helpers of the Handicapped' , from her staff quarters of Central Excise Department. As the work grew substantially over the years, in 1999, she gave up her secure government job to pursue rehabilitation of the physically disabled people full time.
‘Helpers of the Handicapped' was started to rehabilitate the physically disabled people from rural areas all over India . Currently, the Hostel-cum-Rehabilitation Centre at Kolhapur is accommodating 135 physically disabled students, vocational trainees, and staff members. In addition, a Vocational Training Centre produces wheelchairs, tricycles, crutches and other aids. Moreover, as part of becoming totally self-reliant, the organization also farms large tracts of land at Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra, runs a Cooperative Credit Society and operates a Gas Agency.
Attributing her success to the fact that most ‘Helpers' are themselves physically disabled, Naseema has directly been responsible for helping over 12,000 disabled persons, involving over Rs. 33.4 million in educational / medical / vocational aids!
Naseema's dedication, vision and determination have won her numerous laurels including those from the Government of India, Governor of Delhi, Chief Minister of Maharashtra , Governor of Maharashtra, Union Home Minister, as well as the Outlook Speak Out Awards 2005.
Non-disabled persons from within and outside the disability sector who contributed substantially to the cause of promoting employment opportunities for disabled people over an extended period of time.
Managing Trustee, EnAble India
694, 6A Cross, Koramangala, 3 rd Block, Bangalore – 560 034.
Shanti's first encounter with disability was when her brother was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes the patient to become progressively visually impaired. She and her husband Dipesh were instrumental in rehabilitating her brother, not only through orienting him to speech-enabled computers and tools and techniques for his studies, but also outdoor activities such as cycling, rafting and snorkeling.
After returning from the US with a M.S. degree in Computer Science, Shanti decided to use her experience to empower others with disability, sacrificing a high profile career with GE Aircraft Engines.
EnAble India was set up in 1999, and since then, has been actively involved in education, employment and rehabilitation of people with disabilities. It currently has over 500 disabled persons registered. A popular facet of EnAble India is its Computer Centre, which caters to disabled students of different age groups and education levels, and provides training in using speech-enabled computers.
Shanti also uses her 12 years of experience in the software industry to train disabled candidates in soft skills, personality development, computers and other employment related training. EnAble India 's Employer Outreach programme has helped forge long-term partnerships with premier companies and has resulted in creation of job opportunities across all disabilities.
For her selfless service to the cause of promotion of employment for the disabled people over the years, Shanti has been elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2005. She has also received an Award from Rotary Club of Cubbon Park in 2004 and the Rotary Inner Wheel Teachers Award in 2005.
Director, Softnet Interactive Pvt. Ltd.
R-709, Purva Park , Jeevanahalli Main Road , Cox Town , Bangalore – 560 005
After obtaining a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Shyam Kedare went on to work with organizations such as Bharat Bijlee, TCS, Hewlett Packard and BNR (Research), in India and overseas.
On returning to India in 1998, he set up Softnet Interactive, concentrating mainly on voice technologies. In the period 1998-2000, while interacting with visually impaired people in several US-based companies, he realized that voice applications for visually impaired people had much more potential. He also dwelled on the fact that even though Bangalore was an international IT hub – exporting software to make working simpler for millions across the world – not enough was being done for the visually impaired in the same city.
The next logical step was to visit The National Association for the Blind (NAB), which was at the time operating a tele-marketing unit for Tata Indicom. Shyam's company developed a software named NEIL (Navigation and Expert Interaction Logic), which allowed visually impaired users to navigate voice applications – hosted on a remote server and accessible from anywhere in India – using only 12 keys of a touchtone telephone instrument.
After training on NEIL, currently 5 visually impaired persons are employed with a major telecom service provider. Four more are undergoing training, and the next phase of the project will see them trained to take incoming calls, opening up new avenues of employment in the BPO industry.
Shyam's expertise, far-sightedness and perseverance reflect his rare achievement: that of developing a low cost, innovative solution to make a difference to the lives of many.
Rev. Valeriano Vaz
Director, Caritas Goa
Paco Patriarcal, Altinho, Panjim, Goa – 403001
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rev. Valeriano Vaz started his career as a teacher in a Seminary in Goa . He also got involved in social issues affecting the people of Goa . After addressing diverse subjects, he became interested in the cause of disability and was appointed Director of Caritas - Goa , which works in the area of rehabilitation of disabled persons.
The Vocational Training Centre – one of their first initiatives and the first in Goa – provides training in screen-printing, carpentry, woodcarving, welding, mechanics, baking, etc. Not only has this Centre trained thousands of disabled persons, but has also helped them to gain suitable self-employment or placements in the private sector, notably the hotel industry.
Realizing that the key to helping disabled persons gain employment was formal education, a school for persons with disability was started. The concept of ‘Reverse Inclusion' – which is being used at St. Xavier's Academy (special school) whereby non disabled students join the disabled students and benefit from the special school – has been very successful, particularly for children with certain kinds of disability, who find it extremely difficult to cope in regular schools. This model is now also being promoted in another special school in Goa .
Rev. Vaz has spearheaded several initiatives to promote disability rights in Goa . He led a campaign to make public buildings barrier-free, has strongly advocated for implementing 3% reservation in the public/government sector, and is creating a network of NGOs in the disability sector in Goa to work towards a common vision.
Rev. Vaz's standing in the society, impeccable reputation, vision and leadership has helped in bringing disability-related issues into sharp focus in Goa . He has played a key role in influencing the government, NGOs and the society at large to see disability in the right perspective.
Companies/Organizations/Institutions who share our vision and through their policies and practices demonstrate their belief in equal rights and gainful employment for persons with disabilities.
Laser Soft Infosystems
100-A, Radha Avenue,
Srilakshmi Nagar, Valasaravakkam, Chennai – 600 087.
What is bad for one country could prove to be good for another. In this particular case, USA 's loss was India 's gain when Suresh Kamath, a graduate of IIT Chennai, opted to stay back in India instead of looking for ‘greener' pastures abroad. What held him back was his dream of building a world class software company and also of creating job opportunities for the less privileged youth of India .
Suresh set up Laser Soft Infosystems in 1986, along with a small group of professionals. Today, it enjoys an enviable reputation in the market, with a focus on products for the Banking and Financial Service sectors. About 25 specialized product offerings cover the entire range of banking operations and activities.
Right from its start in 1986, Laser Soft has rigorously implemented its policy of employing disabled persons – in fact, they prefer to employ a physically disabled or socially impacted person, provided s/he possesses the necessary skills and qualifications. The company offers facilitation by way of a barrier-free workplace and transport. Free accommodation and meals on duty are also made available to such employees.
Laser Soft has also started the Life Institute for Technical Education (LITE) – an advanced Technical Institute for physically challenged and economically backward persons. LITE provides students with quality technical education – also paying them a stipend – and transforms them into IT professionals with enough skills to gain employment in frontline IT companies. Two batches of such students have already been trained and placed, and the third batch is currently under way.
Laser Soft is also associated with VASANTHAM, a school for mentally disabled children. Established with 6 children at Mogappair on the outskirts of Chennai in 1989, VASANTHAM has qualified staff to counsel, train and look after the special developmental needs of such children.
Laser Soft has been awarded the “Motivation Award 2001” by Federation of Tamil Nadu Physically Handicapped Association for being the best disability friendly software company in employing persons with disability, and in 2005 has been honored with the Best Private Employer Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Suresh Kamath is also the proud recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his Alma Mater, IIT Chennai in 2001.
2nd Floor, East Wing, Khanija Bhawan,
49 Race Course Road , Bangalore – 560 001
ABB is a global leader in Power and Automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group operates in about 100 countries and employs over 100,000 people across the world. ABB has a long-standing presence in India spanning several decades, and employs around 4,000 people. ABB's vision is to create value for society and the communities in which it operates, by ‘living' its commitment to sustainability in keeping with ABB's triple bottom line approach of balancing the economic, environmental and social impact of business.
The company's social responsibility is also reflected in the explicit non-discrimination clause in its Social Policy. ABB does not discriminate on the basis of disability and has also identified employment opportunities for disabled persons in addition to supporting external initiatives in this area.
In Nasik the company partners with Prabodhini – a sheltered workshop for mentally disabled individuals. The partnership commenced in 1993, started modestly with the purchase of 1,000 greeting cards. After evaluation, identification of suitable work/products and extensive training initiatives, the partnership with Prabodhini grew surely and steadily. Today, Prabodhini meets ABB's requirements for Packing Stickers, Caution Cards, Box Files, Flat Files and Earth Contact Assemblies. This year, 7 new assemblies are being developed in partnership with Prabodhini to increase the quantum of work outsourced to them. This process, like earlier, will involve intensive consultation between ABB's engineers and Prabodhini's teachers, modification of ABB's components wherever possible to suit Prabodhini's needs, and subsequently, trial production. A point of departure from the past is that Prabodhini will supply assemblies along with material. ABB rightly contends that this will help Prabodhini students learn management and purchasing skills get familiar with materials management, and overall, raise their self-confidence and skill levels.
ABB is now in the process of replicating this novel and pioneering initiative across all its manufacturing locations in India . It recently identified component assemblies that could potentially be outsourced from its factory in Peenya, Bangalore , and has initiated a partnership with Prerana an NGO working with visually and orthopaedically disabled girls.
As part of its Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme, ABB has partnered with Action Aid and the District Disability Network, Nagapattinam, to rehabilitate persons with disability affected by the disaster. While most companies focused their efforts on building houses, donating boats and nets and other infrastructural inputs, ABB did a need gap analysis after extensive stakeholder dialog. This resulted in ABB consciously deciding to rebuild the livelihoods of persons with disability through locally relevant employment options.
A recipient of many awards for its economic performance, ABB was also voted among the Top Ten Greenest Companies by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) in 2001.
Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind
CA 1B, III Cross, III Phase,
JP Nagar, Bangalore - 560 078
Phone.: 91-080-26581076, 51209491
The journey of Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind (SRMAB) over the last three and a half decades has been nothing short of phenomenal. It has grown from an Academy with just one visually impaired student to one that covers over 16,000 today; from a service delivery agency to a resource organization; from addressing only visual impairment to covering all disabilities; and from just looking at the symptoms of disability to delving deep into its root causes through education and poverty alleviation.
The journey started with the setting up of a school in 1969. Today, the academy has more than 9 projects, providing services in the field of health, education and socio-economic rehabilitation to disabled people in suburban and rural areas of Karnataka.
Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Programmes include Soulabya, which aims at rehabilitation of visually impaired children from rural areas. A residential set-up, Soulabya provides free educational and vocational training from nursery to class 10. Vocational programmes include industrial training, packaging, computer training and Braille transcription, horticulture and the production of talking books for the use of the visually impaired.
The Thirumurthy Rural Development Centre is an agro-based training and resource centre for the rural disabled in Kanakapura Taluk, Bangalore Rural District. With free residential facilities during the 3-year course, the Centre provides training and non-formal education in Agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, poultry, fisheries and weaving. CBR programmes like Tharabethi, Sangama, Samyukta, Samudaya and Sampoorna cover hundreds of villages in rural areas, benefiting thousands through rehabilitation and developmental programmes.
It's not just work and no play at SRMAB. Extra curricular activities like classical and folk dance, Carnatic music, dramatics, and games and sports are actively pursued. In fact, the Academy's dance troupe has performed in major towns in India and abroad like U.S.A. , Italy , and England , and has won laurels at various national meets.
SRMAB has been honored with many awards over the years, including the National Award for the Welfare of the Handicapped by the Ministry of Welfare in 1989 and the Thomas Memorial National Award for Exemplary Service by the All India Blind Welfare Trust in 2002.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited
4 & 6, Currimbhoy Road, Ballard Estate,
P.B. No 688, Mumbai – 400 001
Phone.: 91-22-2271 3000, 2271 4000.
“Providing equal opportunity to people with disabilities” has always been a part of the corporate philosophy of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). BPCL's practice of this philosophy is what made it a winner of the 1 st NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Awards, way back in 1999.
What remains unchanged since 1999 is that BPCL continues to fulfill its corporate responsibilities. What has changed, however, is the fact that the percentage of disabled persons employed by BPCL has risen from 1.11% to 1.37% despite the total employee strength reducing from 12411 to 12082.
“We shall continue to recruit disabled people in the organisation as per the laid down guidelines”, says Mr. S. Mohan, Executive Director, HRD. And that is exactly what they have been doing. Currently, 166 disabled persons are employed with BPCL. The recruitment process is duly monitored to ensure that vacancies for physically handicapped persons do not remain vacant. Special relaxation is given to these candidates up to 10 years of the required age profile for the post. And whenever required, special recruitment drives are undertaken.
Its not just recruiting candidates with disability – BPCL ensures that they are assigned suitable work and a good working environment in the organization. For eg., visually impaired employees are provided with customized computers equipped with optical character recognizers, enabling them to work independently.
Disabled employees are also encouraged in activities outside the organization – a visually impaired employee was sent on Rock Climbing Mountaineering Course, and successfully scaled a peak of over 13,000 feet in West Sikkim!
BPCL even follows carefully laid down reservation policies for allotment of dealerships and distributorships to physically disabled candidates. What's more, special concessions and financial assistance is given to deserving candidates initiating the business.
Other areas of Corporate Social Responsibility that BPCL is active in: it has adopted 37 villages in 13 states, directly impacting 120,000 people; it has initiated the ‘Bharat Petroleum Scholarship' to promote excellence in higher education; it has contributed towards community facilities and infrastructure; and donated generously in times of calamity and disaster.
Truly, a company that deserves be called a ‘Nav Ratna'!