Raja Mahendra Pratap, known to his friends by Raja, Mahendra or Pratap works as a finance and accounts officer at ONGC Ahmedabad and earns a handsome salary. But Pratap’s childhood was spent in a lot of difficulty and pain.
A freak dare when he was only a child of five was to change his life forever. His friends had challenged him that he could not hold an iron rod into an open electric wire. Pratap had taken up the challenge and was electrocuted instantly. He survived, but his hands and legs had to be amputated. Till he was 16, Pratap spent his life in confinement within the four walls of his room as he was considered an embarrassment and a burden that guests visiting his house were better off not seeing. He did not attend school and doctors and tailors came home to attend him instead of him going out to meet them.
But Pratap found support in his three sisters who encouraged him a lot. He read their books and gained a lot of knowledge. He was not able to walk but he slowly learnt to crawl on the floor. The he learnt to walk on his own without any assistance. He further went on to learn how to hold things with the help of his mouth and his elbow. Slowly he taught himself to move around and do things on this own.
Such was his determination that he cleared the 10th and the 12th standard without attending school. He then completed his B.com and MBA in finance from Osmania University. A scholarship he got from the ‘National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People” of Rs 1,000 a month helped him complete his studies.
Raja Mahendra Pratap’s Career
But jobs were not easy to come by for this educated young man. He received a lot of interview calls but when the interviewers saw him, they refused to give him a job as they did not believe that he would be capable of completing tasks that he would be given. But Pratap was not one to give up. Finally he landed a job with National Housing Bank, New Delhi. Apart from his other duties Paratap is also very efficient with the computer.
Pratap has earned respect from his colleague because he always brings in a positive attitude and likes to take responsibilities at work. He has not let disability affect him in any away and considers him fit and able as anyone else. He has not married yet and lives at the company accommodation on his own. He does not have any hired help and does all the work at home like cooking and washing by himself. Pratap uses public transport, travels on his own and very much leads a life like anyone who has the full use of their limbs.
He realises that in India people who are physically challenged still face discrimination and the society looks at them as a burden. He knows how important it is for this attitude to change so that there is a friendly and accessible environment for them. He has represented India in the ‘World Disabled Forum” held in China and Japan and supports disabled kids through scholarships.
Pratap shares his name with one of India’s most eminent freedom fighters and social reformists. And like the great man, he too is a hero in his own right.