Asif Iqbal – outstanding disabled employee

| | posted on:Success Stories
Asif Iqbal is a person who can easily become a role model for many.He has never let his disability come in his way. He has met the former President of India (Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam) to discuss technology initiative which would benefit blind/ visually impaired community.He has won the State role model award in the disability community by governor of West Bengal on December 3, 2007 and the National award constituted by President of India for outstanding disabled employee on December 3, 2008. He works with the help of talking software (JAWS) which provides audio output of computer screen. He uses talking software installed on his cell phone

My name is Mohammed Asif iqbal. I lost my total eye sight at the age of 16 years old.  Never the less, I got my primary and secondary as well as partial college education from United States.  then I became the first blind commerce graduate from St Xavier’s College Calcutta and first MBA(HR) from Symbiosis Center for Management & HRD (SCMHRD, Pune)  I am currently employed with PwC over two years now.  I work through the help of talking software call JAWS install on my laptop and cell phone.  In other words; what ever is on the computer screen; it reads it out loud.  I was blessed with an opportunity to meet with President of India twice, once on August 26, 2004 and January 17, 2006 to discuss technology initiatives that would benefit large blind/visually impaired community

I sincerely would like to thank my close friend Prateek Arneja for accompanying me to visit the President of India on August 23, 2004 at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.  I am also grateful to our former director, Professor Pillai, for availing me an opportunity to give a presentation on my challenges of life at National Seminar, 2003.  I feel very fortunate to come across to our former CBI Director, Dr Kaarthikeyan who has taken initiative to organise meeting with the president.  I am thankful to my parent for being my side and providing me with everything I need to achieve my goals. I am also blessed with wonderful mother who is always supportive im my good times and extend her inspirations during my bad time.  My mom has made me independent and taught me to take on life with positive attitude and always achieve for the top.  I am also greatful to our director, Mr. Subramenian for granting me leave and permission to visit the honorary President.

After the great fresher party where I enjoyed dancing with our junior girls and senior batch mate, I boarded the Goa Express for Delhi with Prateek for which Mr. Mainrai, father of one of our colleague, arranged tickets.  Upon reaching Delhi, we came to know very unfortunate news about Prateek’s grandma instant death, which occurred few hours ago. Never the less, his family were very kind, generous and demonstrated excellent hospitality skills.  I felt home and was truly amazed by Prateek’s family warmth behavior.

On Monday 12:15 we drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan expecting to arrive at 1:15p.m but Delhi traffic jam caused by heavy rain enabled us to arrive just in time.  We entered the gate No. 63 and my name was mentioned in the Mr. President appointment sheet and it contained other list of appointments scheduled every fifteen minutes. We went through two-security checkpoint and we finally parked our car. We were escorted by the security official to the reception area. Receptionists greeted us and told that Prateek would not be allowed to visit the President. We called Dr Kaarthikeyan sir who was kind enough to explain the situation and receptionists after seeking approval from her boss allowed Prateek to accompany me.  We were then escorted by another security official to other two check points where they checked our lap tops and deposited our cell phones and a digital camera.  After security clearance, we were taken into the visiting room.  A platter of sweets along with samosas and dalwara were serving to us. We each picked a sweet and handed back the rest.  Prateek explained that visiting room was huge like a palace with tons of decorative things hanging from the wall.  We read business magazines while we waited 30 minutes for the President.

At 2:25p.m, one of the securities official announced my name and we were both escorted to President’s meeting room.  We both greeted the President. Director of technology also attended the meeting.  I started to set up my laptop while Prateek searched for power Point and plugged the laptop.  While my laptop was being booting, I showed the President how I use my talking note taker  which I used for taking lecture notes in the class room.  President was pretty impressed by it.  He kept on saying that, “fantastic guy, he is.” Then I showed him a presentation which talks about overcoming challenges and obstacles in my life as a visually impaired person.  He kept on tapping his able when he hears people clapping.   After the presentation video was over, I showed him how I work on MS Word, Power point, and Excel through the help of talking software known as Jaws.  He was very impressed with it and most of all he was truly impressed with me using it to excel in life.

Then I told him the bitter truth that we currently have to import this software from the United States and it cost $800 (Approx. Rs. 40000).  I requested him to initiate a project of developing Indian talking software, which would solve huge problem and could serve as a great cost affective tools of the visually impaired Indians.  He immediately instructed director to initiate this project.  I also assured that I would be more than happy to provide any sort of assistance in this regards.

Then I mention the issue of copyrights.  I told him that whenever we have to convert text into Braille or audio format, we have to take permission from the publisher to honour the copyright law but his actions results to high time consuming process and delays in producing the access materials.  I requested him to kindly influence the legislature to make the necessary amendment to enable the access media to carry on the process without seeking copyright permission.  He also told me that there is a digital library, which could be accessible to visually impaired at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.  It consists of all the Indian author books, which was published 50 years ago.  They are trying to get it to 25 years ago.  He also promised me that they would initiate legislation on this matter.

I also pointed out that there is a huge gap between implementation of PWD act and he has assured that he will also look into this matter.  This entire discussion lasted over 35 minutes and then I discussed the issue of national seminar.  It is a by-annual functions held in Nashik and Pune.  We also wanted to invite him to innogerate our annual function on October 2-3 but as we expected he did not agree to come on that day due to October 2 being Gandhi Jayanti.   We proposed for a video conferencing and fortunately he willingly agreed for that.  We tried showing him presentation on the thieme but we were running out of time and he tooked the cd  and promise us that he will view it later.  When I was packing my bag, I just mention the fact that I will be graduating on April 19, and it would be great if he could come to our convocation to witness first visually impaired person to get awarded PGDM certificate and create inspirational history for Symbiosis family.  Mr. President replied that he might do so. We will all keep our finger cross and just may be; Mr. President may come for our convocations.

As we were ready to go out of the room, Mr. President asked us, whether or not we had tea or coffee.  We said yes and shook hand and walked out of the room.

Presidential visit was indeed a good experience for both of us.  A lifetime opportunity, which we got, and we utilized it to the fullest.

Did you find any problems while you were doing your studies..I mean did lack of infrastructure in the Indian scenario pose any kind of problems for you?

Yes, many challenges to overcome and hurdles.

How do you manage your day to day activities…a brief description…i.e. with somebody’s help or you are able to cope up with routine activities yourself?
I have my own techniques of sorting and carrying out with my day to day affair, organizing money, shaving, eating, work out, etc.

How do your parents feel about your disability?
Don’t think they have a choice.

Was your marriage an arranged one or was it a love marriage?
Arranged but this question is very personal

Do you feel excess love and protection are essential for those with physical challenges?
Absolutely not; don’t believe that fake pity makes any better.

Do you feel India is a disabled friendly country?What all needs to be done?
Not at all; begin with sensitization

Have you ever felt any kind of emotional outbursts or complexes due to your physical status?
Yes, many times

What are your hobbies or leisure time activities?
Eat good food, network with people, make friends.

How do you react when somebody pities you?
I pity for them.

What message you would like to give to the persons suffering from some kind disabilities?
Never give up.

Have you ever been discriminated because of your disability?

Yes many times in the past and am sure many time in the future.

Asif Iqbal
Kolkata, West Benagal

Education: B.COM, PGDBM
MaritalStatus: Married
Disability: Visual Impairment
Profession: Senior Consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd

Quick Fire!
Favorite movie(s)
Forest Gump (English movie) Tare Zameen Par (Hindi Movie)

Favorite books
Hatchet by (author can’t remember)

Favorite color

Craziest thing that you have ever done in your life
Climbing up the 14 feet high wall without much support.

Most Valuable thing that you have purchased till now
Maruti A star car

If you are marooned on an island what 5 things you would like to keep with you
My wife, Audio books, Plate of food, Mp3 player, clothes

Favorite food
Continental, Indian such as Biryani

Your biggest strength
Never giving up attitude

If you take birth again, who would you like to be born as
Sorry, I don’t believe in reincarnation

The thing(s) that you hate
People who don’t value time.

The first thing you do right after waking up in the morning
Say to myself; It is going to be a great day Inshallah

The last thing you before falling asleep in the night
Take my medicines

You prefer sons or daughters
I would prefer daughter

Oft-repeated word/sentence by you
Drive your effort to achieve your dream come true.”Dream and Drive”

If world is going to be destroyed in next 5 minutes. What would you do during this time
Call my parent and say that I love you, Apologize to my wife for any wrong doing.

What was your resolution on the new year
To lose weight.

The best gift that somebody can offer to you
Audio books

The town/country that you want to visit

If you can meet one person of your choice, dead or alive, known or not, who would this be
PM, Manmohan Singh

If you could change one thing your past, what would it be

Ref :