Reaching out to the world

Education triumphs disability

Sai Prasad, the first disabled person to skydive, leads by example. His emphasis on the role of education and how universities can allow a disabled to live a full life is a winner

Sai Prasad, 30, who holds a Masters in Computer Science from the US and an MBA from Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad has so far trained 200 students to crack the GMAT. Education is a cause close to his heart. It enabled him to live a fulfilling life, despite being paralysed waist-down from the time he was a 13-day-old baby.

"My parents' persistence helped, even though I had to change several schools. My medical condition did not allow me to sit in the classroom for a long time, which is why schools were skeptical," Sai shares. Not one to be deterred, he went on to win the gold medal at ISB, Hyderabad during his MBA.

The college is special to Sai because they ensured that the entire campus was made disabled-friendly before his academic year began. "They did that for just one student. We need more colleges and universities that are ready to accommodate disabled students," he says.

At ISB, Sai developed an employment model for the disabled that focused on turning their disability into their strengths. "For example, a traffic policeman has to work in an environment where there is a lot of noise but a hearing impaired individual would not be bothered by that," Sai explains. The model won him the Hellen Keller award given to 'Role Model Disabled Individuals.'

Currently a management consultant with Deloitte, Sai is an adventure sports enthusiast. Apart from sky diving, he also became the first Asian disabled individual to go to Antarctica.

"The Bhagavad Gita blames our current life on past life karmas, and talks about the five essential elements - the earth, water, sky, space and fire. I want to prove that even a disabled person can enjoy all the elements if supported and it doesn't have to be about your past life," he elaborates.

Sai funds his adventures in an innovative way. While he trains his students for GMAT, it is only after they get their admit cards from Universities like Stanford among others that they pay back their inspirational teacher. "They contribute towards my travel. We work as a team," he adds. He also has an amazing success rate. "180 out of my 200 students have scored over 700 in GMAT," he says about the test that is out of 800.

In the future, he would also like the government to intervene and ensure that colleges and universities are accountable to their students. He says, "A disabled person needs to be able to communicate and express at the very least to be able use the benefits available." While social media and the Internet have made the research easy, he remembers spending most of his early years conducting massive amounts of research to be able to move ahead.

He was recently awarded the Dr Batra's Positive Health Award 2016. So what's next on the agenda for the adventure junkie? "I want to explore the element of fire. For that I have plans to climb the volcanic mountain close to New Zealand."