“EYECONIC”: A Celebration of Ability in Disability
Mangaluru: The Sahodaya Association of St Aloysius College, Mangaluru, organized “EYECONIC 2024” on January 20, 2024, in L F Rasquinha Hall of LCRI Block. The event aimed to provide visually challenged achievers with a platform to share their experiences and achievements.
The event was compered by Dr Mona Mendonca, Department of History, and featured a thematic song composed by Rohan Jeethan Dsa, a third-year B.A. student. The event was then inaugurated with the lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering, Rev. Fr Melwin Pinto, SJ, Rector, St Aloysius College Institutions, shared his own set of experiences with the vision impaired and how their resilience had impacted his own life. He said, “We should remember that even though we have potential, we should never take it for granted. I have seen the talents and skills of blind folks, who unleash them with true vision. Our four visionaries have their experiences to narrate, which will surely inspire and motivate us. They are a blessing to us.”
Rev. Dr Praveen Martis, SJ, the Principal, addressed the gathering and expressed his gratitude to have such distinguished luminaries at St Aloysius College. He remarked, “If you lose vision, you will lose everything in life. But here we have four individuals who might have lost their eyesight but still have the vision to do great things in the future. We need to be proud of their achievements despite their disabilities, which is nothing but marvellous and worth appreciating.”
The winners of the various competitions held in the days prior to the event were announced. The winners included Richard Paul (1st BA) for Poetry Writing, Shika Arun (1st BSc) for Poster Making, and Neel Arun (1st BCA) for Short Film. The four guest speakers, along with Mr Anvith G. Kumar, an alumnus of St Aloysius College and a Gold Medalist who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Mangalore University, were felicitated for their achievements.
The event then saw the speakers, including Mr Vishal Jain, a Global HR consultant; Mrs. Arpita Chandrashekar, a Bank officer; Mr Shreyas Reddy, an Advocate and Social Activist, and Ms Megha Patangi, an Accessibility Specialist share their stories with the audience. Their narratives ranged from their personal struggles in dealing with the vision impairment to the rejection they had to face at various stages of their lives. But each of them also had a story to tell about that one person who helped them strengthen their resolve to fight the odds. The stories accounted for by the speakers inspired the audience to empathise with their condition and become aware of the struggles faced by people with disabilities.
The program was concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Dr Charles V. Furtado, Director of Admin Block. Dr Charles played a pivotal role in the conception of the outreach program named ‘Sahodaya’ which literally means “Blossoming Together”. In the 23 years since its conception, the association has gained rapid momentum, with over 100 students at present volunteering to be a part of it.
About the speakers:
Vishal Jain, HR Professional
Vishal has an MBA from IIM Lucknow and has over 10 years of experience across Automobile and energy sectors. He has worked with Tata Motors in Mumbai and is currently a Global HR Consultant with Shell in Bangalore. He is a passionate mountaineer who achieved the feat of reaching Mt. Everest Base Camp at 18,200 ft. above sea level. Vishal has dedicated himself to enabling individuals with disabilities to realize their capabilities and foster a more inclusive world.
Arpita Chandrashekar, Bank Officer
Arpita is a postgraduate in Special Education. She started her career as a teacher and later as a project coordinator at the All India Confederation of the Blind in Delhi. During this time, she traveled across the country, working with visually impaired women to empower, educate, and create awareness about their rights. She has participated in the formulation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and has represented South Asian people with disabilities. Since 2014, she has been employed at Corporation Bank as an officer.
Shreyas Reddy, an advocate and social activist
Shreyas, the founder of Samatva Centre for Social Cause, is an advocate and a social activist. He has obtained MBA, MA (Sociology), LLM in Corporate and Commercial Law, and BA LLB degrees and is currently pursuing his PhD. He is instrumental in providing pro bono legal services to the needy. Shreyas is an academic who believes in educating and empowering women, marginalized youth, and differently abled people.
Megha Patangi, Accessibility Specialist
Megha is visually impaired due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). She works as an accessibility specialist at Pegasystems Worldwide India and is a qualified Company Secretary with a part-time certification in interior design. She regularly volunteers for various NGOs working for the empowerment and employment of people with visual impairments, where she teaches the students about digital accessibility. Megha is passionate about teaching, cooking, traveling, and connecting with new people.