Encouraging the idea of celebrating life with all its challenges, the 19th edition Regional Abilympics in Kolkata brought around 400 People with Disabilities (PwDs) from different different Eastern states like West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura at Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Handicapped in Kolkata, competing with their vocational skills and underscoring their potential for employment across the industry spectrum.
The East Zone witnessed the talent and competitive spirit of PwDs on such a massive scale with 23 promising PwDs securing their place in the National Abilympics, which will be held in November this year, to further qualify for the International Abilympics in China in 2020. The Kolkata round saw 8 participants winning Gold, 8 Silver and 7 Bronze in various categories like E- Sports Gaming, Desktop Publishing, Bakery, Floral Arrangement, and Cooking.
The event hosted by the National Abilympics Association of India (NAAI), under the aegis of Sarthak Educational Trust with the support of The Hans Foundation, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) Indian Institute of Training and Development (Kolkata), Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Handicapped, (Kolkata) was an eye-opener for PwDs with national competitions, Job Fairs for PwDs and hard-hitting discourses on the self-sustainability of PwDs in the country. Over the years, Sarthak has trained and secured lucrative placement for over 16,000 PWDs across the industry segments through its 18 centres in India.
Chief Guest of the function on inaugural day Mr. Debabrata Chattaraj, State Commissioner of Disability, Govt. of West Bengal shared “Inclusion of PwDs should happen at each stage. Corporate sectors inclusion in education sector be it admission of the students from schooling to post graduate to Corporate sector coming forward and giving them jobs will help in giving the Divyanjan in our State the right livelihood to PwDs. Insurance companies should give schemes to them. CSR funds should be used to address their essentials and help establish their identities.
The highlight of the event was the Job Fair for the PwDs which attracted country’s renowned brands like IHG, Big Basket, Reliance, Reliance Trends, Flipkart, Lemon tree, Hindustan Unilever, conducted a drive to hire PwDs.
Ms. Partha Das, Sr. Sales Manager, Hindustan Unilever Ltd – who was one of the recruiters opined, “We are here for 4th time. We are looking a sales representatives and have openings for 25 candidates. We are open for freshers, maths skills and basic marketing skills for field jobs.
Senior Manager from Flipkart who was present at the Job Fair shared, “We are hiring for our warehouse and delivery operations in eastern zone and looking at hiring PwDs at large. Mr. Utpal Ghuku from Howrah Hearing impaired bagged a job at Flipkart and was very excited for his first job and happy that he can support is family now.
M.D Aehtesham Khurshid, HR- Support East, Reliance Trends shares, “We have openings in the positions for stores operations, maintaing stocks, etc. Therefore, we are looking at hearing impaired PwDs specifically from the eastern states. We have already hired 12 people this year. We got 3 Pwds as off now and they are very proactive. They will undergo a training program as well if they are recruited.”
“We have jobs in the positions of front office, bell boy, operator, waiters, cooks and helpers. we have around 10 to 12 positions vacant currently and we are open for all kinds of disabilities just that the age should be below 30. We are recruiting PwDs from all over India and we are here to hire people for 38 branches and checking if they are open for relocation” shared Amitabha Patranabis, HR Manager, Holiday Inn.
One of the Candidates at the job fair Kinkar Mondal, from Sonarpur in Kolkata “I am looking at jobs in hospitality sector and met IHG today, I am hopeful that I might bag a job for my English skills”. Kinkar is Orthopaedically handicap Post Burn and is pursuing MA in English Literature.
Sweety Duggar, from Kolkata who suffers a Minor polio effect in her right leg since birth says, “I Just completed my training in RBI as an accounts assistant therefore I am looking at something in accounts and finance.
“30 NGOs from Kolkata were present today for the NDA alliance (national disability alliance) who will work together in the field of advocacy, health, education, employment, skilling and empower disabled people across India. We intend to reach out to 500 NGOs by December 2019” shared, Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Sarthak & Secretary General- NAAI while adding, “65% Divyangjan live in villages and Sarthak Educational Trust intends to reach out to rural entrepreneurs through vocational training & skilling in livelihood models. Here, Sarthak will work as a catalyst in training and create a sustainable ecosystem for the Divyanjan”.
Since its inception in 2001, Regional Abilympics have seen an immense growth with several stakeholders such as the Government, Corporate houses, prospective employers, crowd-funding platforms, investors, and start-ups joining hands to extend their support and appreciate skills of PWDs.
M.D Shamim Allam, works as a tailor in Patna and is orthopedically disabled. He came to Kolkata to show his talent in Dress Making competition at the East Zone Regional Abilympics. Similary, with a paralyzed left hand Sohini Mondal trained from MAAC institute designed a flyer for an Ice cream shop with hopes of winning the ICT competition.”I got crippled after suffering from Polio 5 years ago, I came here to participate in Desktop Publishing, I do small jobs at home of designing and I thought I should test my skills at Abilympics”, shared Jharkand based Sham Sunder Sarkar.
The Kolkata Abilympics was spread across 4 zones and 10 vocational segments, including ICT (Character Designing, Desktop Publishing, and E Sports), Crafts (Floral Arrangement), Food (Cooking and Bakery), Services (Jewellery,Tailoring/Dress Making, and Beauty therapy), and Architecture designing through CAD. The winners in each segment will represent their zones at the National Abilympics and stand a chance to represent India in the International Abilympics 2020 slated to take place in China.
A Regional Conference on ‘Corporate Progression Toward Inclusion and Diversity’ was also held and saw participation of several Government officials, NGOs, Corporates and their CSR heads, discussing prospects and scope of empowering and providing sustainable livelihood to PWDs in order to help them lead a dignified life.