Padma Shri S Ramakrishnan and Amar Seva Sangam - Divine intervention for Divyangs
Amar Seva Sangam established by Mr. Ramakrishnan in 1981 has rendered yeoman service in the area of disability management focusing on rural areas. Awarding Padma Shri was a recognition of the selfless service rendered by the organisation for nearly four decades.
- VSK Chennai
Hailing from Aayakudi, Tirunelveli, Shri S Ramakrishnan, son of Shri Sivasubramanian and Saraswathi Ammal, did his schooling at various Government schools from his hometown. During his engineering studies, he attended a selection interview for naval officers in Bangalore. In a physical test, he injured his neck following a fall and incurred cervical spine injury. He lost sensation and muscle power below his neck.
In the International Year of the Disabled, on June 15, 1981, Shri Ramakrishnan established an organization for persons with disabilities. In memory of his doctor late Retd. Air Marshall, Dr.Amarjit Singh Chahal, the organization was named as ‘Amar Seva Sangam’.
With the kind heart of well-wishers and divine blessings, Amar Seva Sangam came to public light with expansion. Famous writer Sivasankari brought the life story of Shri Ramakrishnan to the public society through her writings in Ananda Vikatan. In 1992, Shri Sankar Raman, a Chartered Accountant from Chennai affected by muscular dystrophy joined hands with Shri Ramakrishnan with a dream to build a ‘Valley for the Disabled’, where people with disabilities could be educated and empowered.
Smt. Sulochana Srinivasan from Mumbai helped ASSA through fundraising. Gerhard Fischer, German-India consulate general, visited ASSA and rendered their help in setting up a full-fledged physiotherapy centre.
Another pillar of strength to Amar Seva Sangam is Mrs. Sulochana Krishnamurthy, President of Handi-Care International, Canada, a Canadian disability charity in fundraising and knowledge sharing. The funds are used for a wide variety of activities of the Sangam. Starting from a donation of Rs.6 lakhs in 1992, she has been gradually increasing her support year by year and during the year 2018-19 she raised an amount of Rs.112.60 lakhs for ASSA. The total contributions From Handi-Care International up to March 31, 2019 is Rs.635.03 lakhs. She also arranges placement of volunteers from various universities of Canada to visit and render their services to the Sangam.
Dr. Dinesh Krishna, who is based out of Canada is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and an award-winning educator. He is a physician in Canada with a clinical focus on emergency medicine and rehabilitation medicine. He is also the Director of Handi-Care Intl. Dr. Krishna who is a consultant Rehabilitation Director at Amar Seva Sangam helped conceptualize the mobile Village Based – Early Intervention (mVBRI-EI) program in 2014 and has been instrumental in obtaining funding and providing support for communications, monitoring, evaluation and research and scale-up for this program. He was recently awarded the prestigious MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Solver Award.
Looking at the resounding success of the pilot project: “mobile based Village Based Rehabilitation Initiative”, the Canadian donor, Grand Challenges Canada, through the concerted efforts of Dr. Krishna, accepted to support the Sangam for scale up of the program, which is now spread across 8 Blocks in Tirunelveli/Tenkasi districts. Dr. Krishna is also instrumental in organizing the stupendous tasks involved in holding an International Conference on Early Intervention for Children with Developmental Delays in Chennai on 14th & 15th February 2020 by bringing in the global experts in the field.
The core activities of the Sangam include: Rehabilitation centre, Spinal cord nursing centre, indoor vocational training centre, typewriting, computer, two-wheeler mechanism, cell-phone, domestic appliance, winding, gold assessor, screen printing training were part of seva activities. Goshala with 40 cows was initiated; Solar pump with 80 kilowatt, physiotherapy, nursing training centres, Early Intervention Rehabilitation were also initiated in the campus.
Seva activities were conducted not only inside the premises but also outside the campus. Census for physically challenged persons were conducted in four blocks. Initially with reference service, tuition centres and self-help groups expanded to 19 blocks. Sub-centres were created. Amar Seva Sangam has been working in many villages and the Tamilnadu Government encouraged the vision by giving Rs.2.36 crore for expanding the activities in 23 blocks. Japan Government helped in constructing four buildings and a stroke patient centre.
In a milestone achievement, ASSA conducted a national seminar highlighting the difficulties and issues faced by disabled persons. In 1995, the bill and ‘Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 was passed. This act advocates and propagates ‘Sarva Shiksha’ for all, placement in Central-State Governments and in society.