Pedal pusher

Divyanshu Ganatra may be visually challenged, but he is cycling his way through Manali, creating awareness and throwing light on the rights of the disabled in the country

Updated - September 22, 2016 04:43 pm IST

Published - September 02, 2016 04:44 pm IST

Divyanshu Ganatra and Gagan Grover

Divyanshu Ganatra and Gagan Grover

When Divyanshu Ganatra lost his eyesight to glaucoma at the age of 19, he didn’t let that stop him from doing whatever he wanted to.

From being an IT expert, a clinical psychologist and behavioural facilitator to becoming India’s first visually challenged para-glider and a social entrepreneur, he has done it all.

But that’s not enough: currently, he’s on The Himalayan Run & Cycle Fest, riding a tandem bicycle with ally Gagan Grover.

The seven-day-long, 550-km ride, which started in Manali and will end in Khardung La, is aimed at creating awareness on the rights of the disabled in India.

Through his Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF), Divyanshu works towards bringing in rights-based activism on behalf of persons with disabilities, as opposed to the charity-based system prevalent in the country now. He explains, “The issues faced by anyone with any sort of disability are never obvious, because there are hardly any public spaces for them. They are confined to their own little world. For those who wish to step out and be part of the real world, there is no infrastructure, or the concept of having inclusive spaces. Ramps and elevators are seen as charity, not as a right.”

In spite of these hurdles, he has never let that stop him. For this particular cycling expedition, he and fellow-rider Gagan have trained rigorously for over two months.

“It helps that I stay in Pune and there are several hilly areas around where we could practise. The only thing that will take some getting used to is the altitude, but it’s impossible, and frankly, unaffordable, to stay in the Himalayas and train,” says Divyanshu candidly.

The expedition is crowdfunded on, who have partnered with ABBF. With a target of Rs. 3.2 lakh, they have so far raised over Rs. 1 lakh. And with 37 days left, they are looking for more contributors.

As for the rewards, apart from the feel-good factor, Rs. 1,000 will get you a personalised thank you note from ABBF, Rs. 2,000 will guarantee a social media shoutout, Rs. 3,000 will get you postcards from Ladakh, Rs. 4,000 will get you prayer flags and a rock from the cycling trail and Rs. 5,000 will get you a credit on the documentary that’s being made on the trip.

Tanvi Shah will make phone cases specially for those who contribute Rs 7,500, and you can have dinner with the team the next time you find yourself in Pune if you contribute Rs. 10,000.

And finally, for a funding of Rs. 15,000, you get to appear in the documentary, for your 15 seconds of fame.

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