Recently Ministry of social justice and Empowerment, Government of India has published 100 inspiring stories of differently abled entrepreneurs, one of the story is mine - How despite all odds I became a chartered accountant and an entrepreneur!
Preface of Book
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude” Scott Hamilton
Yes we can! With its 100 stories on differently abled entrepreneurs from across India most defiantly proves this fact. It is true that the minute we think of giving up, we think the reason why we held on for so long. But even we would be surprised to see how far we can go from the point we thought was the end.
This book is a sincere effort towards reinstating how disability is merely a matter of perception. The inspiring stories of people featured here tell us how if one pursues their convictions and works hard towards achieving them, anything is possible, whatever might be the struggles.
While each story is different from the other, what’s common for each of these fighters, disability translates into possibility. It is not their disability that defines them, it is how they have dealt with the numerous challenges that were a part of the journey.
One must remember, most importantly, to never lose faith in themselves and their inherent specialness.
Chirag Chauhan: A true survivor
The story of one of the survivors of the 2006 train blast that took place in Mumbai
Chirag Chauhan was like many other eighteen years old. He lived a carefree life and did not take anything particularly seriously, including his studies. He was smart, but his grades were average because of lack of focus. It was at this time he got a jolt. He was eighteen, barely an adult, when he lost his father. Being the only son of his parents, he felt his loss even more acutely. It was as of Chirag grew up overnight. The sudden realization that life could be unpredictable struck him and made him see the world around him differently. He became serious about his life and his responsibilities.
Chirag went from being an average student to an ace student, when he got first class in his SSC board exams. From then on, life changed. He kept performing well academically and set his sight on becoming a chartered accountant. This decision was partly influenced by the fact that Chirag has lost his father and needed a job, which was respected and ensured speedy returns. Chirag pursued his ambition relentlessly. He studied for his CA alongside his graduation and was confident despite warnings fromseveral people that the journey was a difficult one. Everything was moving smoothly and Chirag maintained his first clad performance through all the years of his graduation. After completing his graduate studies, he joined a CA firm called M/s A. J. Shah & Co. for his articleship as mandated by the CA course. Life was good, but as it turned out, this was just the lull before the storm.
On the fateful day of 11th July 2006, terrorism reared its ugly head in Mumbai with a series of bomb blasts in local train and stations in Mumbai. As luck would have it, Chirag finished work early that day and caught an earlier back home. This crucial decision resulted in him becoming on e of the victims of the blasts. He suffered a debilitating spinal chord injury, a term that the family heard for the first time in their lives. Chirag remembers the day he was first termed a ‘paraplegic’, it changed the way he lived forever.
Chirag became incapable of caring for himself and performing the daily chores that we all take for granted. The times followed were tough. Chirag’s doctor, Dr Rahul Vasa and a scientist in motor control, tried to empower chirag to slowly get back a semblance of normalcy. They helped him practice sitting in wheel chair, at first for three to four hours and then longer. Chirag had to undergo rigorous rehabilitation training and make extraordinary efforts to achieve even ordinary things. It slowly dawned on him that being a paraplegic was an irreversible condition, and that led himself, why me? He then made the crucial decision to move on from being sorry for himself and taking on what life had thrown at him.
With a single- minded focus, he continued his CA studies until he passed all his exams and was officially a qualified Chartered accountant. His career as a CA started in 2008. He joined Deloitte in December that year and travelled 30 kilometres to his workplace every day. He worked as an employee in different jobs until he decided to take and setup a business of his own. He started as an entrepreneur with his own firm named CA Chauhan & Co. which has now been functioning successfully for the last three years. However, acquiring a set of clients was a challenge and that gave him another idea.
Three years into CA consultancy, Chirag joined hands with a partner to launch expertmile.com, a platform that lets consumers find professional services near them. While working on both his business, Chirag faces a lot of bias. Several potential clients doubted his ability to deliver on time as well as deliver a certain standard, just because of his disability. This was a little disheartening, but Chirag remained focused on his ambition. He stared writing articles, consulting online and interacting with clients. The quality of his work writing and interactions demonstrated Chirag’s Calibre, and people started sharing his articles, reading and asking questions online one of his articles got as many as 65000 hits, resulting in several new leads every month. As they say, where there is a will there is way.
Today Chirag’s firm CA Chauhan & Co. has a team of five and his one year growth is an impressive 40 percent. His online venture expertmile.com went line in April 2015. In just four months, he had lined up 1000 experts and 350 registered users. Chirag is now looking for PE funding to the tune of a million dollars with a long term view of issuing IPOs via listing in the stock exchange. Chirag is driven by numbers, and his ambition is to keep growing exponentially. He is grateful that he is still quite healthy and can welcome every day with a smile. His advice to others who may be faced with difficulties like his own is ‘Don’t spend time thinking too much, just go ahead and do it. Once, you take the first step you will automatically find your way, your journey. Believe in yourself and be consistent.
National Handicapped finance and Development Corporation
(Department of empowerment of persons with disabilities)
Ministry of social justice and Empowerment, Government of India