Harman Singh Sidhu has overcome all odds to live life on his own terms. In 1996, his car skidded off the road and landed into a ravine near Renuka Lake, in Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh.
The accident left him crippled (both his legs had to be amputated), but he has not given up the fight and helps in creating awareness about road safety in the region.
He currently runs a small software/website development setup (Webinfoservices) from his home and is president of ArriveSAFE, a road safety NGO.
Sidhu, now 42, while recalling the shocking incident said: “A few days before I was supposed to leave for Canada in October 1996, I had gone to Renuka Lake, in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh with friends.
It was a narrow, winding road with sharp turns. After one such turn, I suddenly found part of the road was missing, perhaps due to a landslide. The car fell about 50 feet into a ravine, and I suffered a spinal injury.”
The surgery was performed after a week and ever since he is confined to the wheelchair. Because of his condition he faced discrimination at various levels.
“I went to get myself registered for a job under the ‘handicapped category’ but I was in for a rude shock. I was told, since I am 100% disabled, I am not eligible and if I still want to get myself registered, I need to get all my certificates, beginning with my tenth standard one, revalidated. It was so difficult that I dropped the plan,” he recalled.
The unconditional support he has received from his family and some close friends has been the biggest source of his strength.
“I have never seen my parents irritated even once all these years, though it has been a challenge to manage me,” Sidhu said.
It is perhaps on account of such patience and support from his folks that Sidhu could find the courage and resolve to think of meeting Amitabh Singh Dhillon, the then Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh Traffic Police, to explore options of how he could work in tandem with Dhillon’s department to develop study material for road safety.
“He encouraged me to go ahead and develop the software."
The website he developed won the prestigious Prince Michael Road Safety Award in January 2006.
The success of this project led to the birth of ArriveSAFE.
“The intention behind this organisation is to ensure that everyone reaches back home safe after his/her journey,” Sidhu said.
Another achievement: he was the protagonist in Collision Course, a UN/BB documentary dubbed into 22 languages and shown in many countries during the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week that was held in April 2007.