Meet the 12 winners of 17th NCPEDP-Mindtree Helen Keller Awards

The 17th NCPEDP-Mindtree Helen Keller Awards 2016, instituted by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled Persons (NCPEDP) recognizes exceptional work done by corporates and individuals in the sector. The awards were given away on 2nd December 2016, at India International Centre, Delhi. There are a total of 12 awardees, including disabled individuals, supporters of increased employment opportunities for the disabled, and companies.

Let’s meet the exceptional individuals and organizations selected this year for having established themselves as role models in furthering employment opportunities for persons with disabilities:

Category A : Role Model Disabled Person

  1. Cegeo Thekkal, Peer Director, AMBA – Mr Thekkal is a Bengaluru resident who is intellectually-disabled. He is employed at an organisation that promotes alternative education for people with disabilities. His job requires him to oversee the quality monitoring of a team of 25 data operators. Mr Thekkal also holds trainings in communications.
  2. Deepa Narasimhan, Head, Diversity & Inclusion APJ, EMC DELL – Ms Narasimhan heads the ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ initiative at an MNC in Bengaluru. She was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was six months old and over the years it has weakened her muscles considerably so she is now confined to a wheelchair.
  3. Pratik Rajiv Jindal, Assistant Manager: Human Resources-Global Strategic Hiring, Wipro Limited – Mr Jindal became blind when he was 20 because of a genetic disorder. His disability was a disqualification for many potential employers who came for college placements.

Category B : Role Model Supporter of Increased Employment Opportunities for Disabled People:

  1. Dr Jasmer Singh Saini, Professor, Rural Development, National Institute of Technical Training and Research – Dr started working with differently-abled persons when his son Saurabh Saini was declared fully deaf at one-and-a-half years. When the government enacted the Persons with Disability Act 1995 and the Human Resource Ministry approved a scheme to improve access to employment opportunities for disabled persons, Dr Saini saw a way to help. He actively helped implement the scheme in Chandigarh. It was Dr Saini who pushed the concerned authorities to reserve 25 seats in 50 polytechnics across the country for disabled persons and to impart 3-6 months vocational training to them. He also fought for better representation of disabled people in the corporate sector, convincing Tech Mahindra to hire 10-12 disabled persons in 2010. Big brand companies like IBM and TATA soon followed suit.
  2. Pankajam Sridevi, Managing Director, ANZ – She is the Managing Director of the Technology Services vertical of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Bengaluru. She has been committed to hiring disabled persons in the ANZ Bengaluru hub, where over 7000 people work.
  3. Sanjeev Sonawane, Professor, Department of Education and Extension, Savitribai Phule Pune University – Mr Sonawane suffers from a vision defect but that has not stopped him from making sure that blind youth get a shot at employment. He has created educational programmes to make young people who are blind more employable. He is the sole person from Maharashtra to receive the award.

Category C : Role Model Companies/NGOs/Institutions:  In this category, the following organizations were given award:

  • Accenture Services Private Limited
  • Aegis Limited
  • CISCO Limited
  • EMC Software and Services India Private Limited
  • State Bank of India
  • Synchrony Financials

Javed Abidi – Honorary Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), while addressing the gathering said, “The quality of applications received this year made it very difficult for us to select only 12 from among them. But this improved number and quality of applications also gladdens our heart immensely because it is demonstrative of a significant mind shift among employers. We are indeed very grateful to Mindtree for partnering with us in such a significant initiative.”

Helen Adams Keller born June 27, 1880, was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor-of-arts degree and was an advocate of the fact that multiple disabilities is not a barrier against education and communication. She established herself as an idol to differently abled individuals.

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