Justice Markandey Katju-
Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
In village Velimanna, near a small town called Omasseri, in district Calicut, Kerala, lives Mohd Aasim son of Mohd Shaheed and Jamseema.
Aasim is a 14-year-old boy, suffering from 90% physical disability. He was born without both hands, one leg impaired, jawbone crooked, and having problems with his teeth, mouth and hearing. He can only move about on a wheelchair, which too has to be pushed by some family member (because he has no hands).
Yet, despite these tremendous handicaps, he has never despaired or lost heart, and in my opinion, he is a beacon of hope to the whole country, which, like him, suffers in numerous ways.
Here are some of the things he did:
- He fought in numerous ways e.g. by participating in dharnas before the Collectorate, approaching prominent people, etc to get his school upgraded from lower primary school (which has classes only upto class 4 ) to upper primary school ( which has classes upto class 7 ). For the first time in the history of Kerala, the state government has done such upgradation. Now there are about 600 children in the school.
- Now he is fighting for upgradation of the same school to high school level. Aasim had completed class 7 two years back, but could not study further as that school is the only school in his village, and due to his physical disability, he could not go to any other school.
- As part of this struggle, he led a human chain of local people on his wheelchair and held a dharna at the Collectorate. He has also contacted many prominent people in this connection.
- He visited many flood-affected villages of district Wayanad to help flood victims, to whom he gave food, clothes etc. which he had collected with the help of his contacts.
He collected Rs 53, 815 for the flood victims, which he handed over to the Chief Minister, Kerala.
- He participated in fundraising organized in Kannur district by Payyannur Pilathara Home and Blood Donors Kerala Association
- He gave TV sets to poor children so that they could attend online classes.
- When a similarly disabled child contacted him, Aasim took the help of his contacts and arranged for a wheelchair for him.
For his social service, Aasim won the UNICEF Child Achievers Award, and was appointed the Child Brand Ambassador for the All Kerala Charity Service Association. He also won the Bangalore-based Dr APJ Kalam Award.
Why can’t the whole of India become like Aasim? We too were disabled, first by our British rulers who looted us and transformed India from a prosperous country having 30% of the world’s GDP to an impoverished one with only 2-3%, and then by our selfish, crafty politicians, who have polarized our society on caste and religious lines, and incite caste and communal hatred and violence.
But like Aasim, we can fight back, and transform India from an underdeveloped country with huge problems of poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of proper healthcare and good education, etc to a highly developed and prosperous nation.
Aasim is our role model.