His aim is to mobilise them

By S Ben Raja Published on Nov 06, 2017 03:05 PM IST

Chennai: "The life of differently-abled people is not easy. Only those who live with them know what adversities they undergo on a daily basis," says Southern Railways employee based out of Perambur Shankar Jaikishan.

For all those who don't know him, he is one of the renowned experts of the city modifying cars and bikes for the differently-abled. Holding many awards and accolades up his sleeves, he is right now on a mission to take his clients on their modified bikes to India bike week this month and subsequently to the Ladakh in the near future. He shares with News Today, his success stories so far.

Shankar says his interest towards developing and modifying vehicles for the differently-abled began when he faced multiple disappointments in getting a vehicle modified for his friend.

"Around three decades ago when I started approaching mechanics for modifying a two wheeler for my close friend whose legs were paralysed, but no one came forward to do the required modification. This forced me to start my own workshop Shreevari Engineering Works," he said.

According to Shankar, retrofitting the parts alone won't suffice the requirements of a differently-abled.

"In all these years, with experience of modifying 1,008 vehicles, I have learnt a lot. I have come to understand that the requirement of each and every person varies. For example, paralysis is caused by a good number of reasons. If it's due to damage in the vertebral column, the vehicle should feature adequate support for the same, else people cannot even sit even for a minutes. This is what many mechanics fail to understand leading to depriving many of their mobility needs," he added.

Shankar's says he never expects a profit of big margin for his efforts.

"We source the raw material from an ARAI certified company in Pune and we have employed three mechanics. So, I charge only the cost of the raw material and the labour for the mechanics for any job. Also, I don't discriminate between cars. I charge the same for BMW as well as a Maruti," Shankar exclaimed.

He also requested that the government should give more importance to the differently-abled.

He said, "Some of them are really talented but are not able to succeed just because of the lack of mobility. If we fulfill this very basic need, we can see them in flying colours. Many of those benefited from my service have become highly successful in life. The joy which they get after being mobile cannot be expressed in words. Their blessings and well-wishing stays for ever."

"What puts off most of them is the age old policies of the government. Even today, RTO doesn't allow geared bikes for differently-abled. The problem is not about understanding of a complicated process but lack of access. Provide them the access and see how well they catch hold of it. Soon, three of my close friends who are differently-abled are heading to Ladakh on their modified KTM bikes and I hope government changes its perception after this expedition," he added.

Women still in dark..
Shankar said, "While differently-abled men have started venturing out on bikes, women continue to remain inside because of the perception of the public. People should refrain from treating a differently-abled with a difference. All they want is inclusiveness and ordinary treatment."