Ninety per cent of the staff at Vindhya Infomedia is differently-abled
There is nothing unusual about the Vindhya Infomedia building, a grey glass structure that spells business.
It is when you sit twiddling your thumbs in the waiting area that you notice the little details — the ramp running parallel to the short flight of stairs at the entrance, the picture of Nicholas James Vujicic, founder of the not-for-profit Life without Limbs, the staff member at the reception desk deftly handling phone calls with the stubs of his elbows — and you suspect there is little ‘usual’ about Vindhya Infomedia.
The company, which offers data processing services, was started by Pavithra Y.S. in 2006 with the help of two girls with speech impairments. Today, it has 300 people working with it; 90 per cent of the staff is differently-abled.
To Ms. Pavithra, managing director of Vindhya, qualification is limited to one’s attitude. “We don’t say no to any job or to any person. We look at rejected candidates first. I was not qualified when I started, why would I expect someone else to be?”
The company has an impressive list of clients. Is it the uniqueness of the organisation that has attracted interest or has the industry recognised it for its competency?
Ms. Pavithra assures us that the company learnt quickly and now competes with others in the sector in terms of productivity and efficiency. It is one of the leaders in employee records digitisation, working on 5 lakh employee records of companies such as Wipro, Cognizant and MindTree. It also handles loan processing of microfinance institutions such as Swadhaar FinServe and Janalakshmi Financial Services, by processing loans of up to Rs. 15 lakh.
“I always tell people, we are all disabled in some way. Our disability is just not seen,” Ms. Pavithra says, adding: “Did you talk to our employees? Without them, we are handicapped.”
Says Srinivas G., executive administrator who was manning the reception desk, “I’m grateful to Vindhya for whatever I am today.” Once working as a plumber, he explains that an electric shock five years ago claimed both his hands.
Chandrashekhar B., a trainer, says he is inspired to be here. “I have lost only one of my hands. When I look at Srinivas every day, who has lost both his hands, how can I feel dejected?”
Another employee is Venkatesh K. Yathiraj, who represented India in badminton and discus throw in the ‘dwarf Olympics’, and is now an executive in the IT department. “We’ve always been sympathised with. All we want is an opportunity to showcase our skills.”
This seems to be a recurring theme. Deepla Naik, leader of a loan processing team, is proud of what he’s achieved. “I learn new skills here, I’m inspired by everyone around and I can now support my family.”
“There is no hint of an inferiority complex [in anyone],” says Rajni Manjunath, an employee who is in the ‘minority’ here. “We’ve been set the same targets and I don’t flinch in saying that they work harder than us.”