Mumbai on Friday hosted its first-ever regional Abilympics for the West Zone, inviting over 500 persons with disabilities to compete in 10 skill-based competitions for the differently abled.

The event was the 19th edition of the Abilympics in India and was hosted by National Abilympics Association of India (NAAI) under the aegis of Sarthak Educational Trust, which provides vocational training to about 20,000 differently abled.

The Abilympics covered 10 vocational segments, that included character designing, desktop publishing, e-sports, crafts, cooking, bakery, jewellery, tailoring/dress making, beauty therapy and architecture designing. 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 in Russia.

Working on his task of character designing, Kishore Mohite from Pune, with hearing impairment, participated in the hope of winning the competition. Orthopedically challenged Anita, who used to work as an accountant, showcased her talent by giving beauty therapy services to onlookers at the event. At another part of the venue, polio-affected Ahmedabad-based Lily Wadalia was a second-timer at the regional Abilympics after having won two silver medals in embroidery last year. This year, she is trying her hand at tailoring.

The event also showcased talent that could be career options for the participants. Anjali Arvikar, mother of intellectually disabled participant Ankita Arvikar (22), said has been creating handmade glycerine soap bouquets for a while. “After having prepared for the Abilympics in floral arrangements, we wish to pursue this as a career for her, looking at the profits it might generate in the long run, making her self-sufficient,” Ms. Arvikar said.

Another participant, Virendra Rana (31) from Vadodara, attended the event for the second time because he could not win the first time. “I went to Chandigarh last year but won the second prize. Now I am here to win the first,” said Mr. Rana, who has been doing flower arrangements for the past two years.

The founder of Sarthak Educational Trust, Dr. Jitendra Agrawal, once a leading dentist in Delhi, lost vision in his both eyes because of macular degeneration. “After losing my eyesight, I realised how difficult life is for the differently abled. So I decided to start Sarthak and provide training to many more people like me.”

Dr. Agrawal is not satisfied with the government’s policies regarding persons with disability. “The National Action Plan of the government is aimed at training 22 lakh disabled people by 2022, but only 1 lakh people have been trained so far. The government must put in more effort in existing plans instead of implementing new ones,” he said.

Film director Mahesh Bhatt with his daughter Pooja Bhatt participated in a panel discussion on how Indian cinema is insensitive towards people with disability. “Unfortunately, we have seen how it is made fun of in movies. This needs to stop and people need to be more sensitive towards others,” said Mr. Bhatt.

Apart from the competition, a hiring drive was also conducted by companies like Capgemini, Reliance Retail, Sutherland, ICICI Lombard, Sodexo, Aegis and Wipro, among others.

The next few Abilympics will be conducted in Chennai (South Zone), Delhi (North Zone) and Kolkata (East Zone) later this month.

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