‘My medal has given me the power to speak’

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Pooja Sharma pooja.sharma@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Deepa Ma­lik shot to fame as the first In­dian woman to win a silver medal at the 2016 Sum­mer Par­a­lympics shot put event.

As the world cel­e­brates In­ter­na­tional Day of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties to­day, the cham­pion says that win­ning the medal has al­tered her life to a great ex­tent. “Life has changed a lot. I feel blessed to be a medium of change through this medal. It’s not just mine; it is the first In­dian woman’s medal. It makes me happy, but also makes me think that it took 70 years for a woman in in­de­pen­dent In­dia to win a medal. I hope it doesn’t take an­other 70 to win the next,” says 46-year-old Ma­lik.

She adds that maybe now peo­ple will take what she has to say, se­ri­ously. “The medal has given me the power to speak with con­vic­tion about things that need to be ad­dressed. I was al­ready do­ing a lot of ad­vo­cacy, and now it makes peo­ple be­lieve more in what I had said.”

But given the sad state of af­fairs of paras­ports and the taboo around dis­abil­ity in In­dia, how chal­leng­ing was her jour­ney? “Dis­abil­ity has given me di­rec­tion. I learned to learn, be­cause it makes you a win­ner,” says Ma­lik. “I learned to deal emo­tion­ally and psy­cho­log­i­cally with the dis­abil­ity. Then I saw the larger pic­ture as an ed­u­cated cit­i­zen — how there are taboos and norms about this dis­abil­ity. I set out to break stereo­types around the dis­abil­ity, es­pe­cially for women in a wheel­chair.”


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