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Bangalore: Visually impaired man takes cricket to those like him

Bangalore: Mahantesh GK reaches out to several visually impaired persons like him. The 41-year-old provides livelihood to thousands of the differently abled people and also champions the cause of cricket among the visually impaired.
The players, all visually impaired, execute copy-book shots, straight out of the coaching manual. Shekhar Nayak is the captain of the Indian blind cricket team and an ardent fan of Virender Sehwag. But off the cricket field, Shekhar worships Mahantesh. Mahantesh is the reason why thousands of differently abled and visually impaired players are getting another shot at the life they all love to live.
"Actually, I don't have my parents. I joined high school in the year 2002, and Mahantesh Sir encouraged me to play cricket. After finishing my schooling, he looked after me very well. He is equal to my parents. Today, if I am sitting before you and talking to you, it is all because of Mahantesh Sir. I feel very happy. If Mahantesh Sir was not there, I would have been working in the fields," Shekhar said.
Mahantesh is the founder of the NGO Samarthanam that runs the Indian cricket association for the blind.
"Cricket enables them to throw themselves on the field, run, catch the ball, throw the ball, aim at the wicket. So it builds a variety of positive qualities which make them a complete individual. It builds confidence, it builds leadership, it builds determination, it builds strategy," Mahantesh said.
Mahantesh's contribution is not restricted to just cricket. He has also started a BPO called Kirana, where nearly 70 per cent of the work force is either visually impaired or differently abled. Kirana has hired nearly 300 people across Karnataka and has bagged many a contracts from big corporations. Mahantesh has also supported India's first visually impaired chartered accountant and five IIM graduates, helping them build a brighter future.
Mahantesh said, "The society is willing to accept the differently abled and visually impaired people, but it needs a lot of efforts from organisations like us, individuals like us. We have to give a positive attitude in them with people with blindness and disabilities. We have to instill confidence in them, build capacity in them so that they can live like any other human being."
Mahantesh's next big project is organising a T20 world cup for the blind this December in Bangalore. Though proper sponsorship is yet to come by, Mahantesh is confident that the issue of scarce funding will not prove to be a hurdle in the realisation of such a dream.

Abhirr V P, CNN-IBN
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