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WHAT 'S RIGHT ABOUT INDIA

Unsung Heroes

Visually-impaired, she refused to be branded as blind. Now she’s a sports champ

JYOTI MAGGU

Jyoti Maggu aspires to become a journalist. She is the sports president of Lady Shriram College (LSR), New Delhi, an all-rounder in sports. She is a sprinter and has been training and participating in the 100m, 200m and 400m events, besides the long jump. Last year, Jyoti participated in the second World Championships for visually impaired in Canada. She has walked a long way at 23. And it’s because of sheer talent and guts. Jyoti is 90 percent blind and she won’t allow this ‘fatedness’ to stop her life’s journey.

‘It seemed like everyone was conspiring to send me off to a blind school’
Jyoti, doing her Bachelors’ in Journalism from LSR, lost her sight when she was seven because of retina pigmentation. The authorities compelled her to drop out of school. “It seemed like everyone was conspiring to send me off to a blind school. But I didn’t want to be called a disabled girl and I was adamant about going to a normal school and do all the things that non-disabled people do,” recalls Jyoti.

Even after the private schools in Delhi refused her admission, Jyoti opted to sit at home for three years rather than attend a special school. Her patience finally led to hope when Bluebells School took her in. “I was determined to shake off the tag of disabled,” says Jyoti. So she focused on academics and scored 73 percent in her Class 12 board exams, with the help of special interactive books, extra coaching and a bit of Braille. That boosted her morale; she took up the challenge of proving herself to the world.

The turning point, says Jyoti, was her admission to LSR, via the disability quota. “The cut-off percentage that year was 79 percent for journalism but I got in with just 73 percent because of my achievements in sports,” she says. She then became the sports president of the college.

“I like to concentrate on athletics. With poor vision, I can’t take part in all games. But sports is one way of mixing with colleagues and knowing them better. Sports is recreational and I enjoy it. It teaches me the lessons of life: how to run and jump obstacles.”

Irene O’Brien

February 12, 2005
 

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