Most of us are born with four strong limbs, clear vision and a healthy mind. Yet, we still can't match up to the paralympians (I call them heroes!). I say this because all my life I have been fortunate to have my body as a weapon to achieve results in active military life or in sports and win at both places for the country. But the strength of body and mind is best displayed when you weather the limitations of life or circumstances and beat the odds. And in doing so, you overcome the challenges that others find insurmountable. Years have passed and after having watched Paralympics 2012 at London, I reinforce the order of precedence - mind-body-gear.
The reason for this conviction is the relentless and indomitable spirit of these 'super-humans' who make us realise that "Nothing Is Impossible". This brings us to the query, is there an Oscar Pistorius in all of us or are we just blaming our genetics for everything? Perhaps adversity will have us answer that question. One look at these games makes us introspect and acknowledge that every specially-abled individual has to be supported by the society and the system at large.
India has approximately 18.5 million specially-abled people, of which 44 percent fall under the age of 30 years. This is a huge pool of workforce that can produce anything from computers to carpets. Off work hours, these people also may have dreamt of running or rowing a boat. Unfortunately, in our society these dreams remain a mere fantasy.
The hope we need to give them is that there can be another Stephen Hawkings or Pistorius who can beat able-bodied people in what they do best. We must remember that when we encourage a specially-abled person to do something which nature has denied him, we are improving his quality of life and adding to the GDP of the country. India has come a long way in paralympic sports. We have ten super heroes representing our country at London 2012. Nevertheless, the tagline 'Don't look at their legs, look at their medals', is a message which needs to reach every little boy or girl who has a mental or physical challenge.
Let their parents and teachers tell them they can run, swim and shoot just like anyone else. Let the fable be told that "aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know that so it goes on flying anyway."
Twitter Handle @Ra_THORe
The writer won India's first individual silver at Athens 2004