Sarita’s dream came true!

in 2011, I had developed a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) based system to allow persons with severe disability to type on computer and do other things such as control light fan etc. This could help those who do not have hand/leg movements. A device of this kind was provided to Mr Suresh Karat in Coimbatore in March 2012. I came across video of talented Sarita Dwivedi and thought she may benefit from this device. Sarita lost both her hand and one leg in a childhood accident.

She overcame all the barriers and is an excellent Painter, Sculptor and so many things in addition to being a great human being and a kind soul! I tried to contact her and finally got through to her after a week and talked to her on phone. She was not very enthused about my offer of BCI device as she was worried both about its cost and utility. I said do not worry about cost as it would be a gift. She said she would like to see how it works as she is not able to understand.
I agreed with that and asked her if she needs anything else that I could help her with. She said she can do everything except three things. Then she talked about need for a computer/laptop for her BFA course. I said that is easy and she would get it, since it is only a question of buying one from market.

Then I asked her if she needs something that she thinks may not be possible but is her dream!  I told her to tell me even if no one in the world is using such a thing. She then got little serious and after some time said if she can drive a wheel chair. I said it would be possible. She asked how is it possible since she does not have hands to operate a joy stick. (After 3 years she told me that she was playing a joke on me and thought it would not be possible and I would not bother her more!)

I told her that I would either use her head movement, voice or her leg movement to operate the wheel chair. She probably felt enthused but very uncertain about such possibility.

At that time I tried to send a message to Mr Bhargav(Callidai Motorworks) on FB although we had never chatted on FB before. As luck would have it, he was also trying to message me at the same time for some other work (what a coincidence!). I told him about the need of an electric wheel chair for Sarita and showed him her video. I asked if she can operate joystick with feet. He said it would be possible. I then asked him to go ahead with it and transferred money to him for the purpose. Subsequently I made a request to on FB to others to contribute to fulfill Sarita’s needs. Within 10 minutes well wishers came forward with the needed money. One friend (not sure if he would like to be named or not) sent a laptop to Sarita in Allahabad.

I went to meet Sarita in Allahabad towards the end of May 2012 but wheel IMAG0255 chair got bit delayed and at that time could not see her use it. I was amazed with her capability and skills. She did not need any BCI to use computer, mobile phone or anything else.She could do all of this with great dexterity.  I spent some time with her and then returned.

After few weeks, wheel chair arrived at Allahabad Jn by train. Sarita’s brother went to get it released. When he was carrying it out, police people tried to harass him. I tried to talk to them but they would not talk. But after some time when they realized that it was wheel chair, they let him go.

Wheel chair was to be assembled b241994_127140024093688_247907934_oy a technical staff of company, who would have come few days later from Delhi. But Sarita could not wait and on that day itself (Sunday) she got her brother to assemble it and started to use it and went to temple. She did face few problems due to bad road but over last 3 years she has been able to not only manage to keep it running but also use her intelligence to improve. It has helped that she has been working with ALIMCO, which manufactures wheelchairs along with other assistive devices. Recently I visited her at her office as seen in picture.11424460_10154059425663782_5127506935797514754_n

Author: Prabhat Ranjan

Prof. Prabhat Ranjan is Vice Chancellor, D Y Patil International University, Akurdi, Pune. He was heading India's Technology Think Tank, TIFAC( as its Executive Director since April 2013 to April 2018. Earlier he was Professor at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute for Information and Communication Technology, Gandhinagar (DA-IICT) since 2002. He was educated in Netarhat School(near Ranchi), IIT Kharagpur and Delhi University. He received his Ph D from University of California, Berkeley where he carried our research on “Nuclear Fusion” at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory during 1983-86. He immediately returned to India after this and carried out research in Nuclear Fusion area at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta and Institute for Plasma Research(IPR), Gandhinagar. He played a major role in India’s Nuclear Fusion program and was Project Leader of the largest operational Indian Fusion Reactor, ADITYA, at Institute for Plasma Research from 1996-2002. His current interests include applications of Wireless Sensor Network to Wildlife, Planetary Exploration (Chandrayaan mission), Nuclear Fusion, Healthcare, Agriculture etc. He has received National Science Talent Search Award, IBM Faculty Innovation Grant and HP Innovate 2009 award, NPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2012, Bihar Gaurav Samman 2012 etc. In March 2022, he was also honored with EduStar India’s Most Impactful Vice Chancellor Award for 2021-22. He has been recognized by outlook among few visionaries, who can lead India towards 5 Trillion Dollar Economy. He has been also honoured with Maharashtra Ratna Gaurav Puraskar by Shalini Foundation in 2024. He is also recognized among the top “100 Great IITians : Dedicated to the Service of the Nation”.

2 thoughts on “Sarita’s dream came true!”

  1. W hat an amazing feat of mental strength and endurance.
    Very courageous girl.
    I bow to her determination and God bless her.

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