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Indian among CNN global heroes finalists

S Ramakrishna who runs one of India's largest rehabilitation centres for the disabled in Tamil Nadu, is one of the 18 finalists in the CNN Heroes worldwide.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2007 20:25 IST

An Indian quadriplegic who runs one of India's largest rehabilitation centres for the disabled in Tamil Nadu has been one of the 18 finalists in the list of CNN Heroes worldwide.

S Ramakrishna was shortlisted in the Medical Marvels category, one of the six categories of people doing extraordinary service for humanity and for our planet.

CNN honoured one each from the six categories at a programme in New York that was telecast live globally on Thursday.

The honour in the Medical Marvels category went to Peter Kithene, of Seattle, Washington, who has founded a clinic in his native country Kenya to provide medical services to over 18,000 patients. CNN's medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta presented the award to Kithene.

Ramakrishna, 53, runs Amar Seva Sangam from Ayikydy in Tirunelveli district, which serves thousands of people in about 300 villages of the state.

According to CNN's profile of Ramakrishna, his rehabilitation programme occupies a 20-building campus on 40 acres of land with a mission to help disabled people of all age's live more meaningful lives. The programme empowers the disabled through vocational training, operates a school for hundreds of disabled children and a specialised school for children with cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Ramakrishna was a mechanical engineering student and aspiring naval candidate 32 years ago when he fell during a physical fitness test and severed his spinal cord, paralysing him from the neck down. During recovery, he decided to build a haven for severely disabled people instead of becoming an engineer.

Among the CNN Heroes honoured were Pablo Fajardo, who leads the legal team in a landmark human rights and environmental lawsuit in Ecuador, and Steve Peifer, of Kijabe, Kenya, who combats severe dropout rates by ensuring that more than 11,000 children have daily lunches at school and access to computers.

A Blue Ribbon Panel of world leaders and luminaries selected the six honourees from the 7,000 nominations received by CNN from its viewers in 80 countries.