The Census 2001 has revealed that over 21 million people in India are suffering from one or the other kind of disability. Among the total disabled in the country, 2.2 million people are mentally challenged. In spite of a 3% reservation quota for people with disabilities (PWDs) in government jobs, the implementation has always remained a challenge. However, a few good samaritans have provided employment not only to the physically disabled but also to the mentally-challenged. Mr. Subhash Chuttar, managing partner of Sharayu Precision (Pune) is one such person.
Today, one-fourth (80) of their workforce comprises special persons (mentally challenged and some hearing impaired). This school dropout turned entrepreneur has taught many disabled people how to earn their bread and butter but has never accepted any charity. A generous lady once offered him a donation of Rs. 2 Crores for his work but he politely refused it.
“I knew mentally challenged people will be less efficient than the so-called normal people but I knew they are not lazy. They just don’t understand how to do the work. We need to tell them how to do the work hundred times, sometimes maybe five hundred times! I worked dedicatedly with such people and they started working effectively. Initially, we rotated such people in different departments and tried to identify what mentally challenged people like to (can) do. The biggest advantage of mentally challenged people is that they are extremely disciplined, focused and not easily distracted. They are so motivated that they want to work on holidays too”, Says Chuttar, who himself is the father of a special child.
“Every morning these individuals are engaged in a physical exercise program with the intention to coordinate the brain and body. They just require a little more patience. We have had zero accidents. If you walk onto our shop floors, you won’t be able to distinguish the work of a disabled employee from any other, ” Chuttar adds. He gives the credit of this marvel to his wife who taught him how to work patiently with mentally challenged people.
A UNDP report explains the concept of supplier diversity as an emerging trend where large corporations support smaller vendors from marginalised sections. It illustrates that Mumbai-based Mirakle Couriers (which only hires hearing impaired people) services mega groups like Aditya Birla and Godrej. Likewise, auto-components of AMC are purchased by Tata Motors and Ford. CCD, Lemon Tree Hotel and Aegis (BPO) have enabled a lot of PWDs. While technology company Mindtree creates an inclusive environment by hiring PWDs, Mindtree Foundation also develops assistive technologies for use, such as KAVI (K(C)ommunication Audio-Visual Interface Device, a picture-to-speech software application). Many companies and HR professionals can learn a lot from Mr. Chuttar and follow similar practices.
Many factory owners and HR professionals can learn a lot from Mr. Chuttar and follow similar practices. Every individual contributes to the organization in his own unique manner and that is the advantage of having a diverse employee set. Disabled employees are often found to stay longer in their companies due to a sense of loyalty and lack of similar opportunities. A successful integration of disabled people in the workforce helps the company to build a socially sensitive image in a true sense. It is rightly said that “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Reference- UNDP report, Interview of Mr. Subhash Chuttar and TOI Crest