President launches book of stories on visually disabled

NEW DELHI, Nov 19:

Awe-evoking stories of the lives of visually impaired people narrated through a mix of vivid photographs and compelling text has been compiled by a woman photojournalist.
President Pranab Mukherjee launched the coffee-table book titled “The Light Within” at Rashtrapati Bhavan here late last evening.
“I call upon all sections of society specially the younger generation in schools and technical institutions to look at experiences of the brave people featured in this book and be motivated to contribute innovative and technical solutions that can be applied to their daily lives”, Mukherjee said.
Commending their “indomitable spirit” the President said, “The blind protagonists do not claim to see into the future, but they thread their way through the unseen world of creative exploration with cheerful audacity. They are almost immune to the affliction that blights them.”
“The book is a gift to the mother of a disabled person and a message to the people of the society to not to lose hope in life,” said photojournalist Sipra Das.
The author said she stayed with visually-impaired people for several days to document their daily lives. She observed that the visually impaired “can see with their hearts.”
“They enthral you with their wit, perspicacity, ability to see beyond the obvious.”
“While working on this book these people have been an inspiration to me. To release this book I was running pillar to post and could not convince publishers as to why they should publish it. I took inspiration from the characters in the book to fight my way,” Das said.
Each story in the book is filled with drama and aims at evoking awe and empathy instead of sympathy and pity among readers, according to publishers Niyogi Books.
Among the stories are those of 10-year-old Bitasta a deaf-mute and sightless girl who was found abandoned as an infant in a garbage dump in Kolkata, but today teaches children older than her the intricacies of yoga.
Another is about visually impaired Mumbai-based businessman Surendra Kambli who lost his hard-earned millions several times over only to recover them through grit and determination.
The story of Riyazuddin, a motorcycle mechanic in Bhopal, is endowed with mastery that borders on the miraculous.
“Characters in the book open our eyes. They teach us to see life in a new light. They can perform the tasks that even the normal people find difficult to accomplish,” said BJP leader L K Advani, who was present at the launch.
“We can make the visually challenged people even more comfortable and enhance their capabilities to participate in the different sectors of our socio-economic development,” Mukherjee said.
Two visually impaired girls, Prachi and Pragya presented the first copy of the book to the President.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India, Justice Sathasivam drew the attention of the people to various judgments focusing on the facilities to be ensured for the differently-abled persons.
Das, said she has distributed 2000 books to various schools, colleges “to spread the message of hope and inspiration to the nation.” (PTI)