Polio-affected Ravi Desikan will hit the Highways in September to draw attention to mobility issues of the differently-abled. Liffy Thomas meets the adventurer

Polio-affected Ravi Desikan is on a drive to create awareness about mobility issues of the differently-abled. As part of this campaign, he will travel to Delhi in mid-September to meet the Prime Minister and place certain requests before him.

Here’s what sets this effort apart: 42-year-old Desikan will be driving down to the capital all by himself in an SUV that is considerably modified to suit him. And he expects to cover the distance in 24 hours and create a new Guinness record in the process.

During the record attempt, he will pass through Bangalore, Hubli, Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad and Jaipur. Two of his friends – a fleet operator and an engineer – will accompany him.

Desikan, who works with the Life Insurance Corporation, often goes on long drives in his modified cars to draw attention to issues related to the differently-abled.

“I am not low on confidence. I can do anything that an able-bodied can do,” he says, one hand on the steering wheel of his modified Maruti Swift, in which the accelerator and the brakes are hand-operated.

Ravi was affected with polio when he was two years old. But he did not allow this condition to place severe limitations on him. Following a childhood fascination, he took to driving cars.

“Right from my school days, I travelled on my own. I would sit next to the driver’s seat and watch him keenly,” recalls Ravi.

Before cars happened, he rode a two-wheeler that was fitted with extra wheels.

“Generally, the differently-abled take three days to learn to drive a four-wheeler. Ravi picked it driving skills in a few hours,” said Shankar Jaikishan of Shreevari Engineering Works, who was his driving instructor.

On reaching Delhi, he will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking a few concessions for the differently-abled. One of them is to allow modification in gearless vehicles.

“Currently, modification is allowed only in TVS Scooty. The rule varies from one State to another,” he says. He will also request that the differently-abled driving cars be exempt from tolls fees.

Desikan can be contacted at 9940432111, 9884832111.

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