Salesh Dipak’s determination & courage hold lessons for all of us
As a society, we have a long way to go when it comes to being inclusive. People with disabilities struggle to access basic rights to education and employment. While the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 states that discrimination against disabled people is a criminal offence, does society really abide by that?
Salesh Dipak, who has cerebral palsy struggled right through to complete his education and land a good job with a media company in Chennai. He works as Sub Editor at Awesome Machi, a media company. His journey is an inspiration to us all.
Salesh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. Doctors said he would be unable to lead a normal life. While CP may have affected his mobility, Salesh’s spirits remain high. He used crutches until the age of six and after that he started learning to walk independently. With support from his parents, he started walking soon.
Salesh’s biggest strengths are his parents. They never gave up on him and were determined he gets nothing less than the best. He was enrolled in a mainstream school but it was tough going as he faced discrimination and isolation.
When I was a child, I could not go to play like other children. So I used to stay back at home. My parents introduced me to a lot of books. In spite of doctors giving up on me, my parents believed that I could do something and achieve a lot in life. My main difficulty was getting along with others. For other children, I was always considered to be someone different. As a child, it used to affect me a lot. I used to feel bad. Kids used to look at me in an odd way, which many people do even now. But I have gotten used to it. I spent my childhood in isolation, both at school and college – Salesh Dipak, Journalist
Salesh points out that lack of awareness about disabilities in society is the biggest barrier. In spite of stringent laws against discrimination, society is not willing to treat disabled people with dignity and honour. He completed his graduation and MBA from a reputed colleges in Tamil Nadu but had many odds to beat before he found a job.
“I have been working for the past 10 years. It is very hard for a disabled person to get a job in a company. Most of them hire because they have a policy of employing disabled people and not because they really believe in empowerment of the community. I left my job at my previous company because I faced clear discrimination. They refused to give me a promotion even after working there for five years. When I asked, they said that they were unsure whether I can do well professionally because I’am a disabled person. When my juniors got promoted, I had to still be in the same position. I did not want to continue there anymore”, says Salesh.
However, Salesh refuses to let these setbacks and attitudes affect his positivity. “I chose the way I want to live life. I had to undergo numerous struggles for that. I believe things will be easier for a disabled person if the society understands them better. It is high time that society becomes inclusive. I would tell all people with disabilities to live life on your own terms. You know what your talents are. So work accordingly and stay happy”.
Salesh has beaten many odds to pursue a great career. Currently, he does not even have time to look for out for a soulmate due to his busy schedule!
His colleagues love to have Salesh around. “It is always fun when Salesh is around at office”, says Jaya Priyadarshini, Senior Content Producer, Awesome Machi. . “He has a lot of positive vibes which we get when interacting with him. We can discuss about anything under the sun with him. Since he is well read, he talks about any topic that we give him”.
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