Shankar Jai Kishan retro-fits bikes and cars for the differently-abled. Liffy Thomas meets the innovator
Shankar Jai Kishan was fascinated with bikes and cars. He however did not care for aesthetics or brand. His interest lay in exploring what was under the bonnet and meddling with the engine. The childhood passion has now turned into a profession: this diploma holder diploma holder in electronics retrofits vehicles for the differently-abled persons.
It all began when Shankar retrofitted his friend Venkat’s bike, a differently-abled person so that he could go on an expedition to the Himalayas. “I attached an extra wheel to the bike so that it could move on any terrain. That effort turning out to be a success, I started getting requests for similar modifications. There were not many who did motorcycle modifications of this nature,” he says. Since then, he has retro-fitted many two-wheelers, his most challenging assignment involving a 100 cc bike.
He started retrofitting cars more recently at his Government-approved retro fitment centre. “I study the differently-abled person first and customise the machine according to his or her needs. It could even mean spending days visiting the person to watch his style of driving,” he says.
Teaching them to drive is easy if the modifications are in place. “It is the brain that functions when one is driving and the disability is never a hindrance to drive a car or a bike,” says Shankar, who runs Shree Vari Engineering Works in Ponniammanmedu, near Moolakadai.
Since 2011, Shankar has retrofitted 180 cars; a good number of them from outside the city. People who approach him have either lost an arm in an accident or are polio-affected persons or have 85 per cent deformity.
For one of his customers, Murali, based in Cuddalore, Shankar had to carry out considerable changes in the Alto as he was severely deformed.
His recent assignment was for Dilip Patro, a paraplegic and the founder of The Ability People, who is driving a Hyundai Verna on a mission to spread the message of safe driving and to rehabilitate people with spinal cord injuries.
“For Dilip, I made a tripod that would make the driver feel as if he is holding a steering,” he says.
Shankar can be reached at 9094197197. Email: email@example.com