Mangaluru: Prashant Chowkadapalu – Overcoming Odds with Grit and Firm Self-belief

“I have not been handicapped by my condition. I am physically challenged and differently able.” – Janet Barnes – recognized as the longest living quadriplegic incomplete (Guinness World Records)

“I have learned that the biggest disability any of may ever face is our own attitudes.” – Jeffery F Walton

“A child is only as disabled as their environment and the beliefs of the people around them.” – Bala Pillai

“When you have a disability, knowing that you are not defined by it is the sweetest feeling.” – “In My Dreams I Dance”, Autobiography by Anne Wafula Strike (p. 79)

“Courage and strength is not the absence of fear – it’s refusing to assume the role of a victim” – Anne Wafula Strike

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway” – Mary Kay Ash

Mangaluru: All noble and inspiring words indeed. But has the world really reconciled itself to the spirit of the above words and accepted those going through conditions of genetic shortfalls as ones of their own?

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There are many of them whose supportive parents have ensured that the differently abled are given their place in the sun. Some of them have done extremely well for themselves through sheer grit and determination. Lack in one faculty is often more than made up in others.

An achiever and a role model among them is Prashant Chowkadapalu, son of Kandappa Belchada and Bhavani couple from Manchi village in Bantwal taluk of the district.

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Neither of his hand has any finger nor his feet any digits. But he writes so well with his hands and operates the keyboard of any computer. Besides, he can walk quite a long distance every day. He can use the mobile phone so easily. Most surprisingly, he plays cricket too.

Because of physical shortcomings, his parents did not have any expectations about his pursuing studies. But his grand-uncle, Govinda ‘Master’ of Sampila, spotted the spark in him and realized that his skills could be developed and honed.

He encouraged Prashant to take up writing by using both the hands. The little young man was not found wanting. He responded very well and went on to compete with his peers in studies. He firm belief in himself he completed his primary education in Kukkaje, high school studies in Manchi, PU course in Mudipu junior college and finally degree course in SVS College in Bantwal.

Currently he is employed at the Manchi gram panchayat office on a temporary basis, earning a mere Rs 1,500 per month, with which one could hardly make both ends meet. Besides doing well in studies, he has also shone in dramatics and music.

When asked if he did not require more time in answering examinations since he had to use both his hands, what he said was something unbelievable. He always completed his papers ten minutes ahead of others!

Prashant gratefully recalls the contribution of his teacher who taught him to hold the slate and write in English in his achievement in education.

He is only sad that in spite of applying for a permanent employment under the quota for the differently abled persons, there has been no positive result so far, even though the posts have remained vacant for long.

It is high time the powers-that-be accommodated him in a suitable post.

(Pics and additional inputs from Ashiq Kukkaje)

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