From the Chief Executive’s desk
Better than Normal Overcoming Cerebral Palsy – AJ Philip
Hitesh Ramchandani is an inspirational speaker from Singapore. His parents are originally from Rajasthan.
When my colleague Sakhi John told me about his plan to spend 100 days in India and interact with 100,000 people, I grabbed the opportunity to invite him to Deepalaya School on 21st August.
I believe that a school should not be just a place to impart bookish knowledge. It should also provide opportunities to the pupils to meet people who really can inspire them.
I realised that Hitesh was indeed a person who could help turn over a new leaf in the lives of our students when Principal CP Davis and I received him.
Hitesh began his hour-long speech interspersed with video and audio presentations, by asking the students to hold their breath for 90 seconds.
And then he asked those who could succeed to raise their hands. Many of them raised their hands.
He called two of them to the stage and gave them a copy each of his autobiographical book Better Than Normal (Fourth Dimension, 248/4 Vashistha Marg, Raja Park, Jaipur – 203004)
He told the audience why he asked them to hold the breath for 90 seconds. When he was formed in his mother’s womb, he was in an upside down position.
And when he was born, his legs were the first to come out into this world. As the hospital staff helped him in the process, his brain did not get oxygen for 90 seconds.
The result was that he became a case of Cerebral Palsy. A doctor told his parents that he would not survive for 24 hours.
“The doctor who said this died while I am pushing 26”, said Hitesh as the students gave a thunderous clap.
He told the students how his parents decided to admit him to a normal school, not a special school for the disabled.
“Of course, I had to suffer a lot. My co-students bullied me, girls kept aloof from me and I became a recluse”. That was long ago.
“Today I have girl friends with whom I go for a meal alone. If I meet a girl with whom I feel I can spend the rest of my life and if she also believes so, I may even marry her”.
He narrated an experience when he took part in a race while he was at school. While all the participants completed the race in a few minutes, he took 24 minutes.
One of them even taunted him, “My grandmother would have ran faster!” That was a snub he was not ready to accept. He began to run and the next time he finished the race in 11 minutes.
“I was not a Milka Singh but I proved that I could be “better than normal”, which was the theme of his speech.
He started his speech with a claim that one thing he dreaded in life was public speaking. He reconciled himself to the fact that he was a Cerebral Palsy case and he would never be able to speak in public.
But his cousin and manager Vicky Vaswani and parents had other ideas. They took him to a speech therapist who trained him in public speaking.
Today Hitesh is so confident that if you ask him any question, he will provide a cogent answer without any stage fright.
He told the students how he took part in football matches in countries like Germany and Austria. Initially, he was told that he would not be able to stand for long, let alone run.
Hitesh has disproved all such claims. He invited four students — two girls and two boys — to the stage.
He wanted each one to do push-ups on the stage. As the students started counting, the maximum that they could do was 30-35.
Then it was the turn of Hitesh, he removed his jacket and shoes and started doing push-ups in a much more rigorous manner.
Hitesh stopped only when he crossed 51. And that too when his cousin asked him to do so.
He told them that if he could do 51 push-ups it was because he had confidence in himself. They too should have such confidence.
Hitesh narrated the stories of Edison, who failed thousands of times before succeeding in inventing the electric bulb.
Abraham Lincoln was a total failure as a student, lover, politician and family man till he won the Presidential election and became easily one of the greatest presidents of the US.
He wanted our students to have confidence in themselves so that they could do Better than Normal.
While welcoming Hitesh, I described him as a great “motivational” speaker. A motivational speaker is one who can motivate. Motivations do not last long.
Hitesh is an inspirational speaker, not a motivational speaker, as Vicky Vaswani corrected me.
Every student wanted his autograph and I feared that he would be “mobbed”. No, it was not fair to keep him longer at Deepalaya, as he has a target — “Inspire 50 million people by the year 2050”.
He wants India to be a Better Country than Normal. If he can succeed, why can’t we as a nation? I wish Hitesh Ramchandani all success in his endeavour.