15 specially abled persons awarded People of the Year by Limca Book of Records

Thirteen years ago, Rajive Rature was hit by a bullet in Kenya that left him visually impaired. But that didn’t stop the man from taking life head on. For over a decade, Rature has been working towards building legal knowledge of rights of persons with disabilities. He is now Asia Pacific head for Disability Rights Promotion International, a collaborative international system to monitor human rights situation of people with disabilities.
Also meet Zamir Dhale, who is deaf, dumb and blind. But his wish to talk and listen was so great that he overcame these hurdles and developed a special software to communicate with the world through his mobile and laptop. “It’s unbelievable to see him communicate the way he does,” says Arthy Muthanna Singh, Senior Editor, Limca Book of Records.
These are just two names among the 15 who were felicitated by the Limca Book of Records in the Capital on April 14. This year, the 27th People of the Year awards were given to the specially abled, who have not let their physical disabilities steer their life’s course, but have used their unusual position to give them more strength, and thereby inspire others.
“Every year we pick up the theme of the POY awards from one of the sections of Limca Book of Records. This time, instead of awarding people who have worked for the disabled, we decided on recognising the people themselves because their courage must be celebrated,” says Singh.
At the event hosted in Delhi’s India Habitat Centre, these achievers were awarded by Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, himself a Limca Book of Records awardee from 2004. “It is difficult to imagine India becoming a strong economy without becoming an inclusive economy – an economy which is inclusive in gender, ability, ethnicity and all other social parameters. People with disabilities have to be integrated with the mainstream. Corporates, civil society and governments must come together to accomplish the vision of an accessible India,” he says.
What makes these awards different is the selection process. Unlike those who usually appear in the Limca Book of Records by sending in their nominations to be selected, the POY awardees are selected by a jury of experts. This year the jury consisted of former parliamentarian HK Dua, Radhika Alkazi, Founder and Managing Director of Aarth Aastha, and Merry Barua, Founder Director of Action for Autism.
In an attempt to contribute towards the government’s ‘Accessible India’ mission of making the country’s infrastructure and social fabric disabled-friendly, Murthy, Vekatesh Kini, president Coca-Cola India and South West Asia and all the award-winners signed a petition addressed to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to make ‘sign language’ an official language of the country so as to make the society more inclusive.