Satyamev Jayate - Jinhe Desh Ki Fikr Hai

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Exclusive videos and articles from Team Satyamev Jayate which travelled across the country to bring you these stories.


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Nothing’s going to stop us!

Nothing’s going to stop us!

His determined jaw line speaks volumes about the inherent grit which has got him this far. His disability, financial troubles and lack of support from parents might have slowed down his journey to become India's no. 1 paralympic swimmer, but in spite of all the odds, Prashant Karmakar has fire in his belly. He is determined to make his country proud.

In 2003, 33-year-old Karmakar became the first disabled swimmer to represent India and win a medal at the World Swimming Championships in Argentina. In 2009, he was the most decorated Indian swimmer at the IWAS World Games held in Bangalore, winning four golds, two silvers, and one bronze medal. He also won the bronze medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games - India's first ever Commonwealth medal in the field of aquatics.

In spite of his obvious achievements, Karmakar is unhappy with many aspects of the manner in which sports for the disabled is conducted in India. “There is a lack of basic infrastructure. I had gone to Germany for my training. There, I saw how even blind people can swim, because the government has put thought into it. We have nothing like that in India,” says Karmakar. Another issue is the lack of financial support for athletes. “We are spending our money, taking loans and playing for the country. And what do we get in return? We are not recognized by the government or accepted by society.”

But all is not bleak for Karmakar. He breaks into a smile when he talks about being conferred with the Arjuna Award. “My inbox was full of congratulatory messages and I am very happy,” he says. “My father was sick, but when he heard of the award, he was immediately feeling better.” Now Karmakar has been given a job by the Government of Haryana as Sub-Inspector with the state’s police.

Sharath Gayakwad

Sharath Gayakwad is a 23-year-old swimmer. Looking at his sunny demeanour and outlook, you would never guess that he was born with a deformity in his left hand. He represented India in the 2012 London Summer Paralympics. It was the first time that India was being represented in swimming. He also won a bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Para Games.

Unlike a lot of differently-abled children, Gayakwad was quite fortunate when it came to being given the right support early on. “What has been most inspiring for me is that no one has treated me differently because I am disabled," he says. "This played a big part in building my confidence. My parents brought me up with a lot of love, care and sensitivity. The school also supported me a lot. So it was easy for me."

But it wasn't always this easy. The disability led to difficulties in swimming. He had to learn how to balance his body under water and gain the right momentum with just one hand. Having a good coach like John Christopher helped, especially because he was more like a friend and guide. “I was injured in 2009 and almost thought of quitting, but he did not let me give up. He supported me and helped to get the treatment done,” says the young swimmer gratefully.

Although Gayakwad did not win a medal at the 2012 Paralympics, he is happy with his performance. Apart from the sport itself, he ended up making a lot of friends with other sports persons from across the world. “We are rivals only during the competition, otherwise we're friends."

Meeting people, making new friends and travelling to different places gives a sense of mobility to the otherwise isolating experience of being disabled. This is the magic of being bound by sport. It is also one of the reasons that Shekhar Nayak, the captain of India's blind cricket team, loves the game so much. Under Nayak’s leadership, the team has made India proud by winning the first T20 Blind World Cricket World Cup in 2012.

blind people

“When blind people play cricket, we get confidence, energy and self-motivation. It's a lot of fun as well. When I got involved in cricket, I became much more social, spoke to people about many things,” says Nayak, with a smile on his face. “Just the way I got to play cricket and this World Cup, I'm sure other disabled people will get a chance to win in their life as well.”

The successful lives and undying spirit of paralympic and other sportspersons have shown that being disabled is not a hindrance to achieving the goals you set for yourself. Be it swimming, cricket or any other sport, the grit of persevering through the toughest of challenges, is something all of us can learn from and be inspired by.



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