Profile

  • Barrister Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla
  • Mrs. Queenie H. C. Captain
  • Capt. Hormazdiar Jamshedji Muncherji Desai
  • Lt. Govind Laxman Nardekar
  • Mrs. Shehera F.D. Nanavati
  • Piloo Dorab Khambatta
  • Dr. Rajendra T. Vyas
  • Suresh Chandra Ahuja
  • Rehmut Sultan Fazelbhoy
  • Kanti & Shanti Shah
  • Madhukar Choudhary
  • Barrister Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla

    Image of Barrister Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla

    The period 1919-1965 could be designated by historians of blind welfare work in India as the “Alpaiwalla Age.” For, during this period of four decades and more, blind welfare services in this country acquired not only public and State recognition but also evolved in a systematic and coordinated pattern, mainly due to the efforts of Barrister Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla.

    Born on May 7, 1887 to a family of lawyers and judges, law was Barrister Alpaiwalla’s natural choice of a profession. After acquiring LL.B. degree in 1911 Barrister Alpaiwalla went to England for treatment of his deteriorating vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. Whilst there he kept his terms for the Bar and passed the examination from Middle Temple, London. On return he started practicing at the High court in Bombay, but because of his failing sight his career at the Bar was short-lived.

    Barrister Alpaiwalla’s welfare work for the blind started in 1919 and it was in this field he made a most significant contribution. He took up in real earnest at national and international forums the issue of bringing about uniformity in Braille System. His efforts came to fruition when in 1952 UNESCO appointed the World Braille Advisory Committee which laid down principles for the formation of a Uniform World Braille. These principles were also recommended for adoption of a uniform Indian Braille. Since then, “Bharati Braille” has been in use throughout India.

    As Founder President of NAB, Barrister Alpaiwalla was totally involved in all its activities. He was also an Honorary Member of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, President Emeritus of the Blind Men’s Association and Vice-President of the Bombay State Council on Blindness. He was an ardent Freemason and co-editor of the Bombay Theosophical Bulletin for over twenty years. But rising far above his achievements in various fields was his gentle and serene personality which had endeared him to all. On January 26, 1960 Barrister Alpaiwalla was honored with Padma Shree for his distinguished services to the cause of the blind in India, extending over forty years.

    Always beside him in all his endeavors, giving her encouraging support, was his devoted wife Tehmina Alpaiwalla. Together, they made blind welfare work their mission in life and served with untiring zeal the visually handicapped in our country, till they left this mortal world. – Barrister Alpaiwalla on February 25, 1965 at the age of 78 and Mrs. Alpaiwalla twenty years later on November 4, 1985.

    Queenie H. C. Captain

    Image of Queenie H. C. Captain

    In April 1956 a group of enthusiastic workers of the blind – mainly women – met in the Darbar Hall of the Government House in Bombay to establish the NAB Finance Raising Committee. The then Governor, HE Dr. Hare Krushna Mahtab who presided over the meeting, made a prophetic statement – “I’m sure the Finance Raising Committee will bring big amounts to the National Association for the Blind because its destinies are in safe, sound and strong hands.”

    No truer prophecy could ever have been made than this, for the “safe, sound and strong hands” that were instrumental in collecting seven and a half lakh rupees for the cause of the blind were none other than those of Mrs. Queenie H. C. Captain, one of the Vice-Presidents of NAB and Chairperson of its Finance Raising Committee.

    Soft-spoken and of dignified demeanor, Mrs. Captain was familiar with blind welfare work, from as far back as 1930. She formed and led for several years a Girl Guide Company in the Dadar School for the Blind in Bombay. It was not until 1951, however, that she was drawn actively into the sphere of work for the blind, when she was approached to become the Chairman of the proposed Workshop for the Blind Committee. The Workshop Committee made considerable progress under Mrs. Captain’s Chairmanship. Through her unstinted efforts she was successful in convincing the then Finance Minister of Bombay State, Mr. Morarji Desai, and the Royal Western India Turf Club to hold a special Race Day in aid of the Workshop, which resulted in collection of Rupees 3.5 lakh to the Workshop fund. She was one of the Patrons of the First All India Conference for the Blind held in Bombay in January, 1952 and was a Founder Member of the National Association for the Blind which came into being at this Conference.

    In 1957, Mrs. Captain visited several blind institutions in London and in 1959 led the Indian delegation to the Quin-quennial Conference of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind at Rome.

    Mrs. Captain’s organizational skill and administrative capabilities were shared by other welfare activities and charitable causes. Nonetheless, blind welfare work received her fullest sympathies and devoted attention. NAB was considerably benefited by her Chairmanship of the Finance Raising Committee and continued to receive her guidance and help. In 1961, Mrs. Captain was elected President of NAB which office she held till 1973. Under her leadership, the work of the NAB expanded rapidly.

    In 1974 the Government of India conferred on Mrs. Captain the Honor of Padma Shree, in appreciation of her outstanding Social Work. She was also the first recipient of the Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award in 1973, for her outstanding contribution to promoting rehabilitation of the blind. In 1974, the General Assembly of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, elected her as an Honorary Life Member. She was the only lady in the world to share this unique honor with Dr. Helen Keller. In her passing away on 16th October 1976 at the age of 76 we lost one of our leading social worker, and the blind their devoted and dedicated crusader.

    Capt. Hormazdiar Jamshedji Muncherji Desai

    Image of Capt. Hormazdiar Jamshedji Muncherji Desai

    If there is one person who could be given the credit of putting services for the visually impaired on scientific lines, Capt. H.J.M. Desai would immediately come to mind. Quiet, unassuming and a person of retiring nature, Capt. Desai – a Civil Servant of the then Government of Bombay Province – entered the field of work for welfare of the visually impaired at a young age of 32 years.

    Despite being occupied with a fulltime Government job and totally new to the problems of the visually impaired, Capt. Desai made it a point to study their plight and understand their hopes and aspirations and subsequently endeavored and succeeded in devising ways and means to improve and expand services in this field.

    Capt. Desai played a leading role in convening the First Provincial Conference for the Blind, in 1948. He brought together like-minded men and women – all volunteers – from different walks of life to help him in realizing his ambition of improving the plight of the visually impaired. Having successfully organized the Conference, Capt. went on to convene the First All India Conference for the Blind in January 1952 where representatives of organizations of and for the visually impaired, Central and State Government officials and volunteers met in Bombay to establish the NAB (India) which subsequently become India’s largest Non-Governmental Organization in the entire field of disability.

    Capt. Desai has many firsts to his credit – the first Hon Secretary General of the NAB (India), the first Honorary Secretary of NAB’s first Industrial Training Centre – the M.N. Banaji Industrial Home for the Blind, the Founder of India’s first Agricultural and Rural Training Centre for the Blind – the TATA Agricultural and Rural Training Centre for the Blind, the first Hon Secretary of the NAB Workshop for the Blind, the Founder and the first Hon Secretary of India’s first residential rehabilitation centre for the blind – the Pheroze and Noshir Merwanji Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind at Mt. Abu in Rajasthan, the Founder and Hon Secretary of the Lions Home for the Aging Blind, Khandala, and perhaps many other activities. He also served as the Hon Secretary of the NSD Industrial Home for the Blind (1948-1965).

    Well read in education and rehabilitation of the visually impaired, Capt. Desai was for many years the member of the Executive Council of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB). Later WCWB merged with the International Federation of the Blind to form the World Blind Union (WBU). In recognition of his services to the cause of the visually impaired Capt. Desai was made Honorary Life Member of WBU.

    For his phenomenal contribution, the President of India conferred on Capt. Desai the Padma Shree, and NAB (India) the coveted Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award. In his silent and dedicated work Capt. always received unstinted support of his wife Perin.

    Govind Laxman Nardekar

    Image of Govind Laxman Nardekar

    After making his invaluable contribution to the preparatory work of establishing NAB (India), Lt. G. L. Nardekar became one of NAB’s first Hon Secretaries. In this capacity, he was greatly involved in the growth and progress of the organization in its formative years. Lt. Nardekar’s forte was promoting employment and economic rehabilitation of the blind, leading to their socio-economic integration into the community, which could be dubbed unique.

    He pioneered employment and placement services for the visually impaired as an activity of NAB during the time when there was not much community awareness about the potential and abilities of the visually impaired.He looked after this important portfolio since inception till 1975 and was mainly responsible for sensitizing leading industrialists to offer employment opportunities to trained visually impaired individuals. As a result some 3000 trained VI persons were placed in the open industry. He also developed the NAB Bureau of Self-Employment.

    Impressed by Lt. Nardekar’s talent and potential, the American Foundation for Overseas Blind awarded him six months’ training Fellowship at Brooklyn Industrial Home for the Blind, USA. In 1964 the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare awarded him and Capt. Desai a three-month observation tour of Institutes in some 14 States in the US. With this exposure and his progressive approach Lt. Nardekar introduced, for the first time in India, training in light engineering for the visually impaired at the NAB Workshop for the Blind. He extensively contributed to the growth and development of the Workshop, initially as its Hon Secretary and later as its full-time director after retirement from the Bombay Customs in 1974, where he worked as a preventive officer.

    Lt. Nardekar significantly contributed to development of the NSD Industrial Home for the Blind as one of it Hon Secretary from 1948-1973. As Hon Secretary of the M. N. Banajeee Industrial Home for the Blind during 1956-1966 he played as significant role in development of the industrial and vocational training sections besides securing sufficient work to enable the trainees gain the much needed work experience.

    In 1969, Lt. Nardekar mooted the necessity of a nursery for blind children, which led to the establishment of NAB Mata Lachmi Nursery for the Blind, with Lt. Nardekar as its Founder Honorary Secretary and Trustee. Lt. Nardekar also played a pivotal role in starting the NAB Lions Home for the Aged Blind.

    At the international level, Lt. Nardekar richly contributed to work for the blind as a Member of the Urban and Rural Employment Committee of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind. He also served on its Finance Committee.

    In appreciation of his outstanding contribution to promoting rehabilitation, vocational training and employment of the blind as a voluntary worker, NAB (India) on its 25th Anniversary – January 19, 1977 – presented Lt. Nardekar the prestigious Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award.

    Lt. Nardekar’s human approach to all problems gave a great fillip to promoting the work and enhancing the reputation of the NAB (I). In his passing away on July 3, 1986 NAB lost a devoted and dedicated worker and the visually impaired one of their staunchest supporters – who believed in personalized and individualized attention to the needs and aspirations of every blind person who came to him for any sort of help.

    Shehera F. D. Nanavati

    Image of Shehera F. D. Nanavati

    One of the speakers at Bombay’s C. J. Hall on January 19, 1952 – they day NAB (India) was launched – was a gracious and enlightened personality in her early forties. In the years to follow she was to play a very significant role in the development of NAB and her name was to become synonymous with blind welfare activities throughout India. This lady was Mrs. Shehera F. D. Nanavati.

    A dedicated social worker for around decades, earlier to her involvement with NAB, Mrs. Nanavati was actively associated with the Maharashtra State Women’s Council as its member, treasure and president. She was the president of National Council of Women in India and had visited the USA besides several European countries to study the problems of unwed mothers as well as welfare activities for the visually impaired and the aged. She was also an active member of the Lioness Club and worked on various committees of Lions International.

    Mrs. Nanavati work with the visually impaired commenced as a member of NAB Finance Raising Committee (FRC), where with a group of like-minded energetic ladies she strived to collect the much-needed funds for developing NAB activities. Her contribution to the cause intensified when as vice-chairperson and later the Chairperson of FRC she organized several novel fund raising drives and programs. Noted among these events were ‘Maid of Cotton’ and ‘My Fair Lady’ fashion shows in collaboration with leading textile mills of the fifties and sixties in Bombay. Mrs. Nanavati and her team at FRC conceived the idea of observing ‘Flag Day for the Blind’ on the lines of the Army Day, which has since become a regular event in the blind welfare calendar throughout India.

    Mrs. Nanavati firmly believed that to reach out to the blind population in the rural areas it was crucial for NAB to first extend it activities at state and district levels. There were hardly six state units of NAB when she assumed chairmanship of NAB State Branches Committee. This number rose to over 18 during her tenure. No wonder then she was conferred the prestigious Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award in the year 1979 by the NAB for her outstanding contribution.

    Mrs. Nanavati took over as Vice President of the NAB in 1973. She also had as short stint as President of NAB in 1987. On several occasions she headed the Indian delegation to international conferences. Sheroo – as she was fondly known among her friends – snapped her over four decade old ties with NAB on October 5, 2003 when she passed away at the age of 93.

    Piloo Dorab Khambatta

    Image of Piloo Dorab Khambatta

    An eminent social worker and an activist for promoting rehabilitation and employment of the blind Mrs. Piloo Dorab Khambatta selflessly served all deserving causes with devotion and dedication for over four decades. She was involved in organizing the First Provincial Conference for the Blind in Bombay in June 1948 – an event that greatly stirred interest of the State in systematizing education, vocational training, rehabilitation, employment and welfare of the blind in the erstwhile Bombay State.

    Mrs. Khambatta richly contributed in organizing the First All India Conference on Work for the Blind which motivated the Union Government in promoting the rehabilitation and the welfare of the blind throughout India. NAB was established at this Conference. When Helen Keller visited Bombay in February 1956, Mrs. Khambatta assisted in organizing her Bombay program which generated awareness among the general the public about promoting training and employment of the blind and their socio-economic integration into the community.

    Since the founding of the NAB (India) Mrs. Khambatta was an active member of NAB’s Finance Raising Committee and became the Honorary Secretary in-charge of Finance in 1955. She held this position for a number of years. She was also the Honorary Secretary In charge of Public Relations and contributed richly to raising awareness about the problems of the visually impaired.

    After she put the financial position of NAB (I) on a sound footing she switched over as Honorary Secretary In charge of Employment and Placement. In this capacity she was instrumental in placing a large number of visually impaired persons in remunerative employment. She ensured that visually impaired employees were given full wages and were in turn giving full commercial production and efficiency. She personally followed up cases and made sure to solve satisfactorily any difficulties faced by the visually impaired or their employers.

    Mrs. Khambatta also played a crucial role in raising much needed funds for the NSD Industrial Home for the Blind and the M.N. Banajee Industrial Home for the Blind in Mumbai.

    In great appreciation of Mrs. Khambatta’s magnificent contribution, purely as a voluntary worker for 42 years, the NAB (India) conferred on her in 1981 the Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award. The National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped too honored her with the N. D. Diwan Memorial Award in 1982 for her outstanding voluntary work for the disabled.

    Mrs. Khambatta who passed away on January 4, 1991, would long be remembered, with great esteem, admiration, appreciation and affection by all those who were privileged to work with her.

    Dr. Rajendra Tansukhram Vyas

    Image of Dr. Rajendra Tansukhram Vyas

    Born in Gujarat on December 27, 1930, Dr. Rajendra T. Vyas became blind at the age of eleven due to bilateral iritis. Now one to be cowed down by his disability, Dr. Vyas achieved considerable success in academics, his profession and in the social arena. He studied in a regular school and after a post-graduate degree he went on to do Law and also obtained a Ph.D.

    Dr. Vyas initiated a number of innovative service-programs for the blind. He commissioned India’s first and largest multilingual Talking Book Project and the computerized Braille Production Centre at NAB (India), Mumbai. He also made unparalleled contribution in the areas of Prevention of Blindness and Eye Donation Programs.

    Dr. Vyas served in executive capacity in every major representative organization concerned with education, rehabilitation and employment of the blind, besides blindness prevention – both at the national and international levels.

    One of the Founder Hon. Secretaries of NAB (India) Dr. Vyas was elected Hon. Secretary General of NAB in 1991 and remained in that position till his demise on August 29, 2010. He was the driving force behind the initiation and expansion of a number of branches and activities of NAB (India). Dr. Vyas’ leadership qualities and excellent communication skills made NAB (India) a Brand name, second to none in the Blind Welfare sector.

    Dr. Vyas was one of the founders of the Blind Men’s Association (now Blind Persons Association) established in 1947. He was also a Managing Committee Member of the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, a Trustee of the Aravind Eye Hospital, a Trustee of the Eye Bank Coordination and Research Central and a Member of the Central & State Coordination Committee constituted by the appropriate Governments for the implementation of the PwD Act 1995.

    Dr. Vyas founded the Asia office and was the former Asia Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (now Sightsavers International). He was also the President of the Maharashtra Society for the Donation of Eyes and Chairman of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, South-East Asia. On the global platform he remained a national delegate of the World Blind Union (WBU) and was conferred honorary membership of WBU, in appreciation of his services to the cause of the blind.

    For his exemplary contribution and relentless service to the blind, the Govt. of India bestowed upon Dr. Vyas the Padmashree in 1982. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award of NAB (India), the Takeo Iwahashi Award given by the Nippon Lighthouse for the Blind, Japan, Lifetime Achievement Award by the Blind Foundation for India – USA for his lifelong outstanding services to the blind people in India, the A. E. Baker Medal of Canada, the Scroll of Honour by the Mayor of Bombay ….. the list will be endless.

    Dr. Vyas commanded great respect and earned himself a position in society. He was the President of the Rotary Club of Bombay West; a Paul Harris Fellow – sponsored by the District Governors of the Rotary Clubs of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and India and the Chairman for various Rotary Committees for over 15 years. In 2002 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Rotary Club of Bombay (West). A Rotarian for 36 years, he served the Rotary District as Chairman of various District Committees for almost 17 years. In this capacity he established the Rotary-to-Rotary linkage programs through which Rotary Clubs in the UK, USA and Australia supported hundreds of eye Camps in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, restoring eye sight to over 3 million visually disabled persons.

    Suresh Chandra Ahuja

    Image of Suresh Chandra Ahuja

    Born on March 12, 1930 Mr. Suresh Ahuja lost his sight when he was studying for his BA degree from the University of Bombay. He went on to complete his post graduation in Politics from the University of Bombay and in 1955 proceeded to the UK with his wife Mrs. Swaran Ahuja.

    In the UK they both were involved in intensive study of blind welfare work. Mr. Ahuja studied Social Science and Administration from the London School of Economics. He also took up RNIB’s (Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind) three months’ course in rehabilitation at the Queen Elizabeth Home of Recovery for the Newly Blind, Torquay. Mrs. Ahuja completed a diploma in teaching the blind from the College of Teachers of the Blind in Bristol and thus became a qualified educator of the blind.

    On their return to Bombay after three years, NAB appointed Mr. Ahuja as Executive Officer on 1st July 1958 and in the course of time re-designated Executive Director.During his 33-year tenure at NAB (India), Mr. Ahuja completely immersed himself in all aspects of work for the blind. His comprehensive knowledge on services for the visually handicapped the world over, not only facilitated expansion and success of the organization but also gave NAB international visibility. He was a Member, Vice-Chairman and thereafter the Chairman of the Committee on Asian Affairs, a Member of the Committee on Services to the Deaf-Blind and a Member of the Executive Committee of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB). Later as Chairman of the World Blind Union (WBU) Committee on Social Development he made remarkable contribution to international work for the blind.

    Mr. Ahuja was also a member of NAB’s delegation at WCWB and thereafter at WBU where he ably represented India. He made impressive presentations on rehabilitation of the blind at several national and international conferences and seminars. His professional writings on blindness in particular and disability in general found space in several publications of repute. Mr. Ahuja’s pioneering contribution in developing services in the field of blindness earned him both national and international acclaim. Notable among the honors conferred on him are: a testimonial in recognition of his dedicated services in support of the United Nations Programme on Disability by the then Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali; the Pioneers Award by All India Confederation of the Blind during the Centenary Celebration of Work for the Blind in India; Takeo Iwahashi Asian Award given by the WCWB; the Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award by NAB (India) in appreciation of his splendid work in developing services for the blind and an award from Lions Club.

    Mr. Ahuja passed away on January 27, 2007.

    Rehmut Sultan Fazelbhoy

    Image of Rehmut Sultan Fazelbhoy

    A Psychology graduate of the Bombay University and a Diploma holder of the College of Teachers of the Blind, Bristol, London, Mrs. Rehmut Fazelbhoy joined NAB (India) in April 1970 as Development Officer. Prior to her association with NAB (I) she worked for the visually impaired in honorary capacity.

    In 1958 she persuaded regular schools in Mumbai to accept blind children, thus pioneering Integrated Education for the blind in India. She offered her services as a “Resource Teacher” to the schools that took in these children. Before long she was made an office bearer of the Blind Men’s Association and NAB (India).In 1958 Mrs. Fazelbyoy started the Braille Reading Competition under the aegis of the Blind Men’s Association. She was also the founder editor of “Blind Welfare” magazine of NAB (I). Mrs. Fazelbhoy was instrumental in persuading College of Social Work – Nirmala Niketan, in Mumbai, to permit blind students to study for their Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). Since then, many blind persons completed MSW from reputed social science institutions.

    In mid-seventies, after receiving training in fund raising in London, under the aegis of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (now Sight Savers International) Mrs. Fazelbhoy became a leading fund-raiser who introduced innovative resource mobilizing techniques. She pioneered the Car Rally for the Blind, the Matchbox Collection Program, Golf Matches with Blind Golfers and the NAB Train Project that brought in substantial funds for various NAB projects. During her association with NAB she held several coveted positions. She was one of the Honorary Secretaries of NAB (I), the Director of the NAB Louis Braille Memorial Research Centre and the NAB All India Revenue Unit and Public Relations Officer of NAB – though for a short period.

    Mrs. Fazelbhoy’s interest in working for the disabled was not restricted to NAB alone. She was the Associate Secretary of the Society for the Education of the Crippled (Child & Adult) which she established with Ms. Fatima Ismail in 1962. She also co-founded the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) with Mr. A. H. Tobaccowala in 1985. For several years she was the honorary secretary of MSSI.

    For her exemplary professional services to the cause of the visually impaired NAB honored her with the Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award. Among the other awards she received were the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for outstanding contribution to upliftment of women and children the certificate of appreciation from the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis, London. Mrs. Fazelbhoy passed away on January 4, 2009.

    Kanti & Shanti Shah

    Image of Kanti & Shanti Shah

    Setting up the Braille Press was one of the first activities that NAB (I) took on, sensing the need for educating the visually impaired through the medium of “Braille”. But then the problem was – who will run the Press? NAB invited Kanti and Shanti Shah – the twin brothers from Rajpipla, Gujarat to take charge of the Press and they readily accepted the responsibility.

    Already active in the field of Braille production, Kanti and Shanti had the distinction of publishing the first Braille magazine in India — “Deepak” – which they painstakingly hand-transcribed and distributed nationwide. Kanti, an excellent Braillist, having a good knowledge of languages was appointed Manager of the Press and Shanti was assigned the responsibility of proof-reading.

    Born on November 14, 1917, Kanti and Shanti lost their sight in early childhood. With loss of sight ended their formal education – at a time when they were in the fifth standard. Soon they were admitted in a school for the blind. After that, there was no looking back.

    Shah bothers immensely contributed to Braille production of the Press, besides initiating new projects. It was they who conceived and brought out the first ever Braille Atlas in India, in 1970. They also started publishing a calendar in Braille, the precursor of Kal Nirnay, currently published by the Press. The “Bombay Guide” – containing information about Mumbai city – they published became so popular that it went into number of editions. Under their management the Braille Press acquired the distinction of being one of the best managed Braille presses in India.

    Kanti and Shanti Shah also very efficiently handled the work of running the Hadley India Programme initiated by NAB (I) in 1971. Besides, they also taught Braille to many visually impaired individuals, personally and through correspondence.

    In 1977, the International Council for Educators of the Visually Handicapped (now International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment) presented their Outstanding Achievement Award to Kanti and Shanti for their dedicated concern for human welfare and their significant contribution to education of visually handicapped children and youth in India. NAB (India) too honored them with the R. M. Alpaiwalla Memorial Award for their outstanding contribution to promotion of literacy of the blind. Based on their life story, the Gujarat Government made a documentary film entitled Kanti Shanti.

    Madhukar Choudhary

    Image of Madhukar Choudhary

    Mr. Madhukar Khanderao Choudhary – the doyen of Integreted Education – became blind at the age of 23 while pursuing his Post Graduation in Mathematics. Undeterred, he sustained his inclination for the teaching profession, slightly reformulating his goals, and became a teacher at Victoria Memorial School for the Blind. At V. M. School, he took keen interest in the affairs of National Association for the Instructors of the Blind and organized several conventions and seminars.

    When NAB, India set up its Department of Education in 1980, Mr. Choudhary joined NAB as an Education Officer. Under his leadership, the NAB Department of Education initiated Integrated Education Programs for visually impaired children in different parts of the country, especially in the rural areas. He toured the length and breadth of the country and motivated several local NGOs to take up this activity.

    Mr. Choudhary designed and conducted a variety of short-term training courses for special teachers, regular teachers, parents of visually impaired children and volunteers. Today the department can boast of having brought in thousands of blind children under the fold of formal education for which Mr. Choudhary was the guiding light. He also played a significant role in the introduction of Abacus for blind students, by training teachers. Under a project supported by UNICEF in 1988, he was instrumental in adopting a uniform Braille Mathematics Code for India, which was published by National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Dehra Dun.

    In 1995, Mr. Choudhary introduced the Home-based Services to Visually Impaired Children with Additional Disabilities. This unique program has earned worldwide reputation and has been acclaimed as most suitable for developing countries. The credit for starting the Training Centre for Teachers of the Visually Handicapped at NAB also goes to Mr. Choudhary.

    Mr. Choudhary served as an Adviser on several committees constituted by Government bodies such as the Rehabilitation Council of India, National Institute for the Visually Handicapped etc. In recognition of his valuable contribution to the field of blind welfare, he was presented several national awards such as the Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla Memorial Award, the Thomas Memorial Award, to mention a few.

    After retiring from NAB, India Mr. Choudhary was involved with many reputed organizations like the CBR Forum, Sight Savers International, Sense International India etc. He passed away in 2003.