[AI] Dr Kanchan Gaba, Head, NAB, National Association For Blind, Kolkata - A source of inspiration

prateek aggarwal prateekagarwal99 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 9 07:03:07 EDT 2010

Hello all,

the following story has tremendously inspired me.

its about a woman, who showed  the world one of the best  definition
of achievement.
we are proud of her!
i'm just amazed to read all this.

taken from a blog on the web, the article is pasted below.

Kanchan Gaba was only eight years old when her world became dark. She
was in Std II, and one morning she woke up to see… nothing. "I rubbed
my eyes several
times and then screamed out in horror. I felt the world closing up
around me…" Doctors said she had glaucoma with retinal detachment. “I
was too young
to understand what I had lost,” she says, but her parents refused to
believe that their daughter had become blind. She remembers their
mood; for one year,
they took their daughter everywhere possible for treatment. They
finally reconciled themselves to the fact that their daughter would
never see again.

"I was admitted to the Calcutta Blind School. I started learning
Braille. My mother tongue was Punjabi, and the medium of instruction
was Bangla. So even
though I scored 94% or 96% in all subjects, I got only 36% in Bangla,”
Kanchan remembers. “I was determined to excel in that subject too.” In
her Std X
exams, this strong-minded young girl topped the Handicapped Section in
West Bengal. She then finished her Std XII exams from Lady Brabone
College, and
went on to go to law college on a national scholarship.

In school, she had joined the four-and-a-half year Girl Guide
programme with other children, all sighted. "Once again I was happy.
The programme included
first-aid training, tent pitching, fire fighting, forest and mountain
trekking." Along with completing her secondary and higher secondary
level exams with
elan, Kanchan completed her Girl Guide course – learning first-aid,
survival skills in a jungle, walking over wooden bridges, crossing
streams, etc.

Later, Kanchan did a full-fledged course in rock climbing at the
Darjeeling Institute of Mountaineering, scaling the Tenzing Rock, the
Gambhu Rock and
the Sandakfu. She won the state's Best Girl Guide medal, and qualified
for the national meet in Adra, Purulia. Here, she defeated nearly 600
competitors from all over the country to win the President's award,
presented by Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma, in 1994.

The President of India is the chief patron of the Bharat Scouts and
Guides, which is affiliated to the International Scouts and Guides,
headed by the Queen
of England. Kanchan has represented India twice at international Girl
Guide meets: in London (1997) and Bangladesh (2001).

In London, she was the only blind person among 700 participants. The
gruelling competition’s 40 challenges could be completed by only 40
children, Kanchan
being one of them.

She did everything much faster and better than others. "I climbed the
difficult Harrison Rocks, abseiled from a 150 feet high tower,
rappelled down rocks
and did river rafting...," and scored much higher to win the Best Girl
Guide in the World Award.

Queen Elizabeth II, while presenting the award, admitted, "I would not
have believed Kanchan’s story had I not seen her perform with my own
eyes." A dinner
was hosted at the Buckingham Palace in her honour.

In 1997, Kanchan received the SCORE award for Sporting Excellence (in
the blind category), given to her by Kiran Bedi, and the Neelam Kanga
Woman’ Award in 2003, presented by the Mumbai branch of National
Association of the Blind.

Why did she take up law as a profession? “I have been very competitive
since childhood,” she reveals. “Law is a prestigious profession, and
it also lets
me help people who need assistance.” For her studies, she had a reader
who recorded relevant material for her. She studied by listening to
those recordings
as there were “no Braille books at that time”.

She started work with a senior lawyer while in her fifth year of
L.L.M., organising briefs for clients and doing consultancy work.
Today, she works at
K.D. Associates, and is a successful lawyer in Kolkata, dealing with
intellectual property issues.

Computers are a great help when she is preparing her briefs. She has
screen reading software, and uses CDs a lot. She also has a reader for
her work.

Kanchan is a person of myriad interests. She has worked on a year-long
research project on the plight of women prisoners in Bengal. Her work
was supported
by the Scholar of Peace award from the Foundation for Universal
Responsibility, an NGO headed by the Dalai Lama. “I have a background
in both sociology
and law, and women’s issues always interest me,” explained Kanchan.
The second reason for her choice of subject was more personal. “There
is a belief that
disabled people only work for disability. But given a chance, we would
like to serve society as a whole.” She has presented her findings at a
and hopes to publish them soon.

“If you want to be a lawyer, you have to be a good talker,” she
advises. “It is your mode of talking which influences your client. You
have to be very

Why she does what she does is motivated by a strong desire to
transform the social mindset that takes blind or visually impaired
people for granted, or
views them as fit only for charity.

She feels that she has been lucky that she has found good people to
help her. Society functions on a give-and-take basis; if you want
something from people,
then you have to contribute your share too – whether you are blind or not.

Kanchan Gaba can be contacted at kanchangaba at yahoo.com.

Prateek agarwal.
Wanna see inside me? My blog is the telescope:

the best way to accomplish your softwares/websites development needs.
You tell, I’ll build.

More information about the AccessIndia mailing list