T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
DECEMBER 1, 2017
MCI (P) 043/09/2017
Freedom from disability
REPORT ON PAGES 12 & 13
Mukti, started in a Chennai garage in 1986, has helped
provide artificial limbs to over 300,000 people
(Left) Ms Meena
of Mukti and (far
left) a technican
finishing a Plaster
of Paris mould.
– MS D
HOMES FOR POOR
IS HOT SPOT
Acid attack victims participate
in fashion show
NINE women disfigured by acid
(above) walked down the ramp
at the first haute couture fashion
show for the survivors of the
growing scourge in India.
They paraded in gowns donated
by top Indian designers including
Rohit Bal, Ranna Gill and Archana
None of the models covered
their faces in the show organised
on Nov 25 by non-governmental
organisation, Make Love Not
Scars, which helps survivors
reconstruct their lives after the
Students to answer roll-call
with ‘Jai Hind’ in MP schools
MADHYA Pradesh Education
Minister Vijay Shah has an-
nounced that from now onwards,
students will have to answer their
roll-call with the salutation —
“Jai Hind”, which translates into
“Long live India”, instead of “Yes
sir” and “Yes ma’am’.
Mr Shah said this would be
enforced in all 1.22 lakh govern-
ment schools, and an advisory in
this regard would also be issued to
all private schools.
This comes days after the
state’s Chief Minister Shivraj
Singh Chouhan said people in
India should use “mata” (hindi
for mother) and “pita” (hindi for
father) to call their parents instead
of “mum” and “dad”.
Donkeys jailed in UP for
destroying plants released
EIGHT donkeys have been freed
after being detained in the district
jail in Orai, in Uttar Pradesh, for
They were “sent behind bars”
by jail superintendent Sita Ram
Sharma, who lost his cool when
the donkeys chewed up costly
plants bought by the prison
authorities for planting inside the
The owner of the donkeys
reportedly made many requests
to the prison authorities to let the
animals go but to no avail.
He then appealed to local
Bharatiya Janata Party leader
Shakti Gahoi, who spoke to the
jailor to free the donkeys.
Telugu compulsory in CBSE,
ICSE schools in Telangana
FROM next year, CBSE and ICSE
schools across Telangana will have
to teach Telugu as a mandatory
The Telangana government has
received approval from the two
boards to teach the state language
to students from Class 1 to XII.
Said Deputy Chief Minister and
Education Minister Kadiyam
Srihari: “The curriculum must be
prepared in such a manner that it
is easy for students to learn the
According to the Telugu Lan-
guage Advisory Committee, there
are 1,390 schools in the state that
do not have Telugu as the first
Kolhan University to replace
convocation gown with
KOLHAN University in Jamshed-
pur is replacing its convocation
gown with traditional attire for its
third convocation ceremony this
Graduating male students will
wear white kurta pyjamas while
female students will wear white
Its spokesman A.K. Jha said the
university wanted to in-
troduce the attire for the
graduation ceremony in
2015 but due to the non-
availability of the desired
dress code, the idea had
to be shelved.
Indian media for
the first time
MISS World Manushi
Chhillar (right) is back
home in India and has ad-
dressed the Indian media
for the first time since her
She spoke about her
future plans and said she
will be spreading aware-
ness about menstrual
Ms Chhillar whose fa-
vourite actress is Priyanka
Chopra, said Bollywood
is presently not on her
mind, but she would someday like
to work in an Aamir Khan movie
“because these movies have a
message in them”.
Addressing other women in the
country, she said: “Never give up
on your dreams. I feel fortunate
that my parents supported me.”
Modi launches first phase
of Hyderabad Metro
INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra
Modi has inaugurated the first
phase of Hyderabad Metro and
also took a ride from Miyapur to
The 30km stretch from Nagole
to Miyapur, which is open to com-
muters, has 24 stations covering
several busy clusters and city land-
marks, including the Rajiv Gandhi
International Cricket Stadium,
Osmania University, Secunder-
abad Railway Station and major
commercial hubs such as Begum-
pet and Ameerpet.
During the ride, Mr Modi was
accompanied by Telangana Chief
Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao,
Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and
other senior officials.
Refresher course on Indian
values for varsity teachers
A REFRESHER course for col-
lege teachers, which will include
lectures on Indian values, was
launched by the Centre for Profes-
sional Development in Higher
Education of the University
About 200 teachers from vari-
ous universities and institutions
have registered for the pro-
gramme, which is themed Shiksha
Shikshan Evam Bharat Bodh or
Education With Indian Values
and Indian Culture Thoughts and
On the inaugural day, several
eminent personalities, including
former parliamentarian Mahesh
Sharma and Delhi Technical Uni-
versity’s Yogesh Singh, delivered
The programme will continue
till Dec 19 and will cover top-
ics related to history, economics,
science, management, technology,
spiritualism, Indian philosophy
and social science.
Bringing cheer... Prof Sunil (left) with some beneficiaries and the home she built for them.
HE first thing that catches
your attention about this re-
tired zoology professor maybe
her unusual name, but what is truly
remarkable is her abiding compas-
sion for the deprived.
In 11 years, she has built new
homes for 78 families, a striking
example of philanthropy in a state
where many people working in the
Gulf build extravagant homes, radi-
cally altering the rural landscape.
Prof M.S. Sunil — usually a male
name — is 57. Her altruism started
in 2006 when it came to her notice
that one of her poor students was
living in an unsafe home. She de-
cided to rectify that.
There was no stopping her af-
ter that and she went on to build
77 homes in her home district of
Pathanamthitta and one in nearby
Kollam district, areas where a lot of
home construction is funded by Ker-
alites working abroad.
Prof Sunil said it was by accident
that she began her home-building
“In 2006, it came to my notice
that one of my students was living
a tough life in an unsafe home. I
was then part of the National Ser-
vice Scheme (which focuses on de-
velopment of a student’s personal-
ity through community service).
We decided to build a home for the
student. We collected Rs 60,000 for
it and a brand new home was com-
pleted,” she said.
After that, she decided that she
would not continue with a collec-
tion drive as it was cumbersome and
decided to look for single sponsors.
Soon, cash-rich people started ap-
proaching her and gave her money
to build shelters for the homeless.
She completed her 78th house last
“After my retirement from the
college last year, I am fully involved
in my passion. At the moment work
is going on for eight homes, of which
six are almost complete,” she said.
Explaining her process of select-
ing beneficiaries, she said many
poor people approach her with re-
quests for help.
“The first thing I look into is if the
needy person comes from a family
which has women. I then make my
own enquiries about the family and
if they are in need of a home. Of the
78 homes that I have completed,
land was bought for just two. In all
the other cases, either the benefi-
ciary had land or, in some cases, the
local village councils gave the land,”
said Prof Sunil.
As for the funds required, she said
costs had gone up from Rs 60,000
for the first home to Rs 2.5 lakh for
the last one that had been handed
“Given my track record, several
people contact me and give me the
money. As a rule, I do not involve
more than one person contributing
to a single home. But there are times
when generous people call me and
say they can afford only so much.
If I were to quantify the amount of
my own money that I have invested,
I will get a heart attack — as I put
in my money to complete a house if
there is a shortage,” she said rather
Of the six new homes which are
now almost complete, four have
been sponsored by a US-based fam-
On the time required to complete
a home, she said the quickest from
start to finish was 22 days, while it
usually takes close to two months.
The size of the home varies from
around 300 sq ft to 450 sq ft and
each is built on a strong foundation.
Each has a minimum of two rooms
and the roof is made of galvanised
She said she takes up the work
only in and around her home district
as she ensures that she is present at
the site on almost all days while the
work is on.
“While in college, I used to rush to
the site after 3.30pm. Now that I am
retired, I have all the time to pursue
my passion,” she said.
Her husband, a businessman, has
chipped in and funded one home,
while their only son, who is complet-
ing his studies in Ireland, frequently
checks with his mother to find out
how her projects are progressing.
Prof Sunil said her achievement
would not have been possible but
for generous sponsors, who are
mostly working abroad.
Now, with her track record, she
is confident that she will be able to
build many more homes. Already
there are a dozen homeless families
waiting for her help, and she, in turn,
is waiting for sponsors.
Indo-Asian News Service
Building homes for the poor
Retired professor in Kerala has built 78 homes with funding from people working abroad
Freedom from disability
(Above left) Mukti’s
first technician, Mr
Tulsi, finishing a
plaster of Paris mould
and (above right) at
his daily job of fitting
the disabled with free
(Left) Jagadesh at
years old, he was
born with a left leg
Jagadesh with Mr
Mahendra Dadha (on
the left) and his father
UKTI’S track record is strikingly impres-
sive. In 31 years, the NGO has conducted
over 300 local camps to fit over 300,000
disabled beneficiaries with artificial limbs – and
held 11 global workshops.
“Each one of us has the right to dream, the
right to equal opportunity. But sometimes life
throws different challenges at you, some more
difficult to cope with than others. A singular ac-
cident or situation can change life completely.
Injured minds and battered bodies come to us
every day. Mukti provides them the freedom to
dream — and live — once again,” said Mrs Mee-
na Dadha, 67, its founder.
She married Mr Mahendra Dadha when she was
18. He came from a conservative Marwari family
She was keen to be more than just a housewife
and a caring mother to her daughter Shilpa and
“The opportunity came when one day, my
husband and I were invited to an artificial limb
camp in Chennai. There were over 500 people
waiting, but only a hundred of them were given
prostheses,” recalled Mrs Dadha.
This made her realise that there was a great
and urgent need for artificial limbs.
With the support of her husband and the M.S.
Dadha Foundation, Mukti was born on April 14,
1986, in a garage in Chennai.
Being new to what they were doing, Mrs
Dadha visited Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sa-
hayata Samiti (BMVSS), a Jaipur-based non-
profit organisation that makes the world-famous
Jaipur Foot, which is much in demand.
“Thirty-two years ago, my first technician Tulsi,
who is still working at Mukti, was trained by BM-
VSS. We have since trained technicians for cen-
tres all across India and abroad,” she said.
Remembering how she felt when the first
limb was fitted at Mukti three decades ago, Mrs
Dadha said emotionally: “Seeing the patient
stand up on both feet and with our help take a
few steps, that was the moment that made me
feel the worth of living.
“Seeing tears roll down his cheeks and his
family cry, the atmosphere was charged with so
much emotion that I couldn’t control my tears.”
Mukti’s workshop in Meenambakkam has a
constant flow of patients daily.
People go there after hearing about the work it
does in India, Mukti has conducted camps from
Kashmir to Kanyakumari with the help of local
sponsors, to serve people who can’t reach Chen-
Lasting eight to 10 days, 60 to 100 patients
are fitted with artificial limbs or calipers at each
In 1994, Mukti started providing lightweight
calipers made from polypropylene and PVC to
The first caliper camp was conducted at Gwali-
or in 1997 in association with the Mukti Artificial
Limb Trust (UK), England.
The Mukti Foot is now made using high-density
polyethylene technology. Unlike most traditional
models, the Mukti Foot is flexible and sturdy.
Since 2000, Mukti manufactures in-house the
core components for fabrication of artificial limbs.
This has two-fold benefits — providing superior
quality for the artificial limbs, and training Muk-
ti’s team of physically and mentally challenged
workforce in crafting the Mukti Foot.
“It was upon the suggestion of Dr Sarada Me-
non from the Schizophrenia Research Foundation
that we started employing people with mental ill-
nesses. It was such a great step forward.
“Instead of having a bowl in their hands, they
have now become the breadwinners in their fami-
lies,” said Mrs Dadha.
The International Society for Prosthetics and Or-
thotics (ISPO) based in Copenhagen, Denmark,
conducts performance tests on components of ar-
tificial limbs and issues a performance certificate.
Mukti got it to evaluate the Mukti Foot, and it
was certified as matching International Quality
Standard by ISPO.
“We were the first to take this technology out
of India. I am grateful to BMVSS for having faith
in us and training our technicians, which enabled
them to go around the world and fabricate limbs,
especially at the third-world countries that are in
need of this low-cost but efficient technology.
“I would like to put on record that only BMVSS
has given us technological assistance and training.
Apart from Mukti’s own needs, the Mukti Foot is
now supplied at subsidised rates to affiliates glob-
ally which provide mobility aids free of charge,”
said Mrs Dadha.
Requests for training and artificial limb camps
have taken Mukti to Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia,
Mexico, Guatemala, West Indies, Malawi, Ghana,
Nigeria, Nepal and Moscow.
Triumphs and achievements
One of the many success stories close to Mrs
Dadha’s heart is that of little D. Jagadesh, who
belongs to a middle-class family with his father,
Mr K. Dilli, a senior technician with the Airport
Authority of India.
“Jagadesh came to us as a three-year-old with a
congenitally defective left leg. We fixed him with
a limb and seeing great potential in the child, I
wanted to give him a good education. We admit-
ted him to one of Chennai’s premium schools,
Sishya School, Adyar. His education was funded
by M.S. Dadha Foundation.
“Over the years, he would come regularly to
get a new limb fitted to size. Jagadesh excelled in
art, sports and music.
“After studying engineering at St. Joseph’s
College, Sholinganallur, the 23-year-old, who
has plans to study further later, has joined Ama-
zon earlier this year as a data associate,’ said Mrs
Mukti rehabilitates people with disabilities
by providing vocational guidance and training
camps to help them become contributing mem-
bers of society.
Of great significance has been maximising
mainstream schooling opportunities for disabled
children and integrating them into the commu-
“Sponsorship of limbs has principally come
from the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Jaycees, phil-
anthropic organisations and numerous indepen-
dent supporters. In addition, we are grateful to
the US-based Jiv Daya Foundation that has sup-
ported us for the past four years.
“It provides targeted grants to individuals and
organisations to improve the quality of health-
care and education for people around the world.
But Mukti’s need for more funding is constant
to meet the growing demand,” said Mrs Dadha.
She added that around six students accompa-
nied by two professors from the University of
Strathclyde, Glasgow, come every January for a
10-day internship at Mukti.
Besides fitting patients with limbs, Mukti con-
ducts awareness programmes such as safe traffic
rules, art workshops, cultural programmes and
sports involving its beneficiaries who, equipped
with their new limbs, are confident of doing
THE Prakrit Art Gallery in
Chennai, founded in 2002, is
owned by Mrs Meena Dadha.
It was conceptualised not just
as an outlet for her love for art
and opportunity to let physically
challenged artists get a platform,
but also as a means to generate
funding for Mukti.
Mukti organises regular
week-long art workshops
where leading Indian artists
interact with talented physically
The paintings created by the
renowned artists are then gifted
to Mukti to augment its financial
The creations of the physically
challenged artists such as Sheila,
which Mrs Dadha assures are
on “a par with the best artistic
talents of India”, are also sold on
behalf of these artists in Prakrit.
In addition to holding
numerous exhibitions across
India, Prakrit has also held
exhibitions in London, New
York, Caribbean, Hong Kong,
Singapore and Nepal.
Art gallery with
a bigger purpose
Two boys with disabilities painting at Mukti.
stand up on
and with our
help take a
few steps, that
was the moment
that made me
feel the worth of
— Mrs Meena Dadha, 67,
founder of Mukti (right)
2012 for her
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