“I approached the RTO but got refused as no person with disability had ever been issued a license before”
“I was 7 when I was electrocuted by a high tension wire; my hands had to be amputated. But my parents never cried in front of me; they wouldn’t allow themselves or others to pity me. In fact, mom would say, ‘You’re brave. We’ll send you for swimming classes soon.’ And they did; I’d attend classes and swim with children my age! Still, I’d have days where I’d break down, knowing I couldn’t eat or write. So mom would buy me cursive writing books and teach me to write with my feet. Mastering how to grip a pen with my toe or pick up a spoon felt like an accomplishment!
When I got comfortable using my legs and feet, my parents decided to enroll me in school again. But I was denied admission because of my handicap. Still my parents would fight and say, ‘Vikram doesn’t have hands, but he has a mind!’
Finally, a school agreed to enroll me. I easily kept up with the class and scored well. My classmates would be so intrigued watching me write 3 hour exams with my feet! I kept studying hard, got through college and did my Masters! At 23, I was running a LPG business!
I had accomplished more than what I believed I could but I still hadn’t learnt how to drive a car. I loved watching Formula 1 races; I’d imagine myself as Michael Schumacher getting over the finishing line.
One day, when I mentioned this to a friend, he put me in the driver’s seat of his car. He handled the clutch to change gears; I used my right foot for steering and my left foot on the brake and accelerator. He even taught me to reverse and park! It was the happiest day of my life!
After practicing for a few months, I approached the RTO for a license, but I was told, ‘No person with a disability has ever been issued a license before.’ I was discriminated against because of my disability again! I said, ‘I deserve a driving test and I’m not leaving without a learner's license.’
I’d drive with a trainer and despite passing all my driving tests, I got a letter that read, ‘You failed the test as you can’t indicate with your hand.’ I was frustrated. I met traffic commissioners and ministers and forced them to hear me out. Because of me, they even formed a committee and after 15 months, a provision was made to allow people with disabilities to drive!
Then one evening, I got a call from the RTO congratulating me on getting a permanent license. I took my friends and family on a drive that day! When people can’t believe a handicapped man is behind the wheel, I roll down the window and wave.
18 people with disabilities have gotten driving licenses after me. A few years ago, a man even requested a drive from me. He said, ‘I was going to commit suicide until I learnt about you. But I will fight again. I came here to thank you!’ Today, as a professional car racer and motivational speaker, I tell people as my mother told me, ‘Disability is a state of mind. Instill a drive in yourself if you want to succeed.”