‘Kutti Ilavarasan’ given away to 40 institutions across the State
“One sees clearly only with the heart because what is essential is invisible to the eye,” says a fox to the little prince in the French classic The Little Prince. True to those words, a group of children who could see everything with their hearts but nothing with their eyes had gathered at the Indian Association for the Blind (IAB) at Sundararajanpatti near here on Wednesday for the release of a Braille edition of the book translated into Tamil.
Pierrre Fournier, Consul General of France at Puducherry, released the Braille edition and A. Chermathai, secretary, IAB, received the first copy. Ms. Chermathai, 62, was among the first batch of visually challenged people who benefited from rehabilitation programmes conducted by the IAB during its inception in 1985. She worked as a government school teacher for long and associated herself with the IAB after her retirement.
The IAB was founded by S.M.A. Jinnah, a visionary who lacked the use of his eyes since the age of 13. It was administered by a managing committee comprising 13 members, six of whom were visually challenged women and three visually challenged men.
It runs a higher secondary school and assists the visually challenged in gaining education from Standard I to post-graduation. It also helps them become self-reliant and employable.
The association joined hands with United Way of Chennai, a philanthropic organisation, to start the IAB-UWC Finishing School aimed at assisting visually challenged youth seeking employment. The school was also inaugurated on Wednesday in the presence of Shyamala Ashok, Executive Director, UWC. K.N. Subramanian, Lead District Manager, Canara Bank, participated in the function and distributed CD players to visually challenged students of Standard IX.
The CD players were donated by Ability International Charitable Trust in the United States. C. Rama Subramanian, a renowned psychiatrist and also the president of IAB, said that the Braille edition of the French book, translated into Tamil with the title ‘Kutti Ilavarasan,’ would be distributed in 40 institutions, including 10 schools, 10 colleges and 10 organisations involved in rehabilitation of the visually challenged in the State.
S. Ramakrishnan of Cre-A publications in Chennai had taken the initiative to bring out the Braille edition of the book in Tamil. Appreciating the effort, the Consul General said that it was one of the greatest books of the century which almost every French citizen, including himself, knew by heart. It had been translated into more than 200 languages and around 14 crore copies of it had been sold since it was published in 1943.
“I am delighted to release the Tamil Braille edition on the 70th anniversary of the book’s publication. It is written for the child within an adult,” he said.
Mr. Subramanian applauded the work of IAB and said that it had been mandatory for all banks to provide education loans to visually challenged students who had successfully completed Standard XII. “We are also providing financial assistance to those who want to be self-employed,” he said.