The event began with a panel discussion on disability and impairment, chaired by Mr. Nishit Kumar, director of Cause promotion and Head of the Management team at Loksatta, Maharashtra Chapter. He is a Fellow from IIMA and is a management advisor to ICMH, Childline and other NGOs. This was followed by a cultural program by the differently abled artistes. The talented participants wowed the audience with their performaces.

The idea for Ehsaas’05 germinated during a marketing assignment for the first year students of the MBA program. The students assignment was well received and graded highly. But the story did not end there. Intrigued by what management graduates could do for the differently-abled, students played around with the idea of having a cultural programme by the differently-abled in an effort to understand and appreciate their special skills. Guidance from Prof. Neerja Mattoo, head of the DOCC at SPJIMR and Prof. Renuka Kamath, head of the Marketing Area put wind behind the sails and the concept gradually took shape. From being a purely entertainment venture, Ehsaas’05 metamorphosed into being a platform for interactions between various NGOs working for the differently-abled, both as organizers as well as entertainers. Over the next one month, the first year students of SPJIMR’s MBA program started to lay the groundwork for Ehsaas’05.

The program began with a musical performance by sightless musicians from the National Organization for Disabled Artists (NODA). A flute recital was followed by a duet sung by one artist who effortlessly switching between the baritone and soprano to provide both the male and the female voices for the song.

The children from PODS [Parents of Down Syndrome Association ] dancing with gay abandon and amazing co-ordination of movement and expression, got the crowd wildly cheering at their performance. Gaurav Sejpal & Rishi Sahani from PODS ardent fans of Tv actress Nausheen Ali were so excited to see her that they dedicated one performance to her.

Performance on the Casio keyboard by Ravi Kanakiya from Spastics Society of India, a magic show by Shiv Shankar from Natyashala, a lazeem folk dance by NASEOH and a mime by Natyashala were some of the other highlights of the evening. The children were highly excited and motivated by the presence of Shaktimaan- Mukesh Khanna, actress Krutika Desai and producer Tinu Verma.

The panel discussion held earlier in the day, explored the reasons on why disabilities are still not accepted in the mainstream and the differently-abled had to fight for their rights. While legislation is being framed to help and involve them, there is still a large proportion of the population in rural areas who require assistance on this front. Not only was it tough for the differently abled in rural areas to find training, but they lacked opportunities to display their skills and earn a livelihood.

The panel chaired by Mr. Nishith Kumar, included Ms. Sudha Balachandra, the Director of NASEOH (National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped), Mr. K. Ramachandra, the General Manager of IDBI, an alumnus of SPJIMR ’83 batch and the first blind person to complete a post-graduate program in management, Mr. Jamshed Mistry, legal advisor to many an NGOs and Mr. Nilesh Singit, who is the coordinator (West Zone) for Disability Rights Initiative and an active voice in the ICHR.

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