Blind World Magazine

Visual impairment has never meant losing sight of life.

February 1, 2006.
Calcutta Telegraph - Calcutta,India.

Atul Ranjan Sahay has been a first among equals, and unequals.

The 40-year-old is the first visually-impaired person to obtain a postgraduate degree from the North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. He is also the first-known visually impaired individual in the country to get an Executive Diploma in General Management, in 2004, from XLRI.

Sahay is the head of business excellence of the Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (Jusco); another first for him and the company.

For Sahay, visual impairment has never meant losing sight of life.

And this found him a place among the top 40 achievers of the country, on whom a book was published by the All-India Confederation of the Blind.

Abilities Redefined: Forty Life Stories Of Courage And Accomplishment was released in English and Hindi on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebrations of the All-India Confederation of the Blind. To do the honours were President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the Union minister of state for information technology, Shakeel Ahmad, at Delhi last year.

The story on Sahay has been titled Exploring the Limits of Human Potent, and was written by Priya Varadan.

Another remarkable thing about Sahay is that he was not blind by birth. “I was born like any other child. But at the early age of 14, I lost sight in my left eye due to a retina detachment. I lost my right eye at the age of 23,” said Sahay.

Recollecting his experience just before losing vision, Sahay said: “Whatever I used to focus on something, my vision blacked out and I realised that something was wrong. But I knew this was not the end of the world and never allowed disappointment to get the better of me.”

Later, he joined the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Dehra Dun, in early 1990s and learnt Braille. He won the best trainee award there.

As career options for the visually-impaired were limited in India, he decided to create an opportunity for himself.

“I sought an audience with the then joint managing director of Tata Steel, J.J. Irani, and asked him to give me an opportunity. It was because of him that I joined Tata Steel in 1992 as an officer.”

Today, he has been entrusted with the job of assessing Tata Group Companies for the business excellence honour.

Sahay reasons that despite all odds, people with disabilities are doing very well in India, but there is no place for complacency and suggests to people who are physically-challenged that they take on life as a challenge.

“The more you struggle the more you live,” is his mantra.

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