The gutsy lady who brought India a silver medal in shotput at the Rio Paralympics will add another feather to her cap. Paralympian Deepa Malik will soon be honoured with the ‘M G Mehta Human Spirit’ award. The awards ceremony will be held in Mumbai next month.
Malik is now officially included in the list of awardees such as Padma Shri awardee Arunima Sinha, the first Indian woman amputee to scale Mount Everest in 2013, and paralympic cyclist Aditya Mehta. The award has been instituted by the Ratna Nidhi Trust.
“I look forward to receiving this award. Ratna Nidhi’s work for persons with disabilities has been massive and at a global scale. Their founder Mahendrabhai Mehta was a beacon of light. This award, in his memory is absolutely priceless,” Malik said in a statement
Malik is India’s first woman and oldest athlete to ever win a medal at the Paralympics. Earlier, she became the first female athlete to represent India at the Paralympics since the country’s debut at the Games in 1968.
Paralysed from chest down, 45-year-old Malik wears many honours on her shoulders, including the Padma Shri, which she was bestowed with earlier this year. She was also honoured with Arjuna Award in 2012
“We chose Deepa Malik for the ‘M G Mehta Human Spirit’ award, for her exemplary achievements. We confer this every year around World Disability Day (observed on December 3) to a deserving individual who is a role model to persons with disabilities in India,” trustee of Ratna Nidhi Trust, Rajiv Mehta said.
Married to Army officer Col Bikram Singh Malik, Deepa is the mother of two daughters – Devika and Ambika. She was diagnosed with spinal tumour 17 years ago, which made it impossible for her to walk. In 1999, she became a wheelchair user. She has gone through 31 surgeries during her illness.
From a wheelchair mother to a restaurateur with a social cause to becoming an accomplished swimmer on the international platform and an adventure sports player, and now a wannabe biker, Deepa couldn’t resist achieving one feat after another.
“It was pretty depressing in the beginning but the love and support of my family made the process easy for me. The acceptance of your disability by your near and dear ones can make a lot of contribution to one’s confidence,” Deepa told the Disability News and Information Service.
She also won the ‘Women Transforming India’ contest in the NITI Aayog event, organised in collaboration with MyGov and the UN in India. At the event, her father, Infantry Colonel BK Nagpal said while receiving the award on behalf of her, “I am very proud of my daughter. Her attitude towards life kept her going. Once she said to me that ‘like you wear glasses, I wear my wheelchair. There is no difference between the two.’”
She is to be awarded a cash award of Rs 1 lakh and a citation. The award ceremony will be held on November 21 at the Y B Chavan Auditorium in south Mumbai.
READ OUR INTERVIEW: Don’t Wait For The Change, Be The Change: Deepa Malik
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