Thums Up has announced the launch of a 5,000 KM road expedition, which will take VEERs – the specially-abled – on a journey of self-discovery. The expedition will be led by Boniface Prabhu, Padmashree Awardee, World Championship medal winner (1998) and India’s top quadriplegic tennis athlete.
This expedition, which Boniface Prabhu terms a ‘Driving Mission’, will aim to:
- Promote and spread the use of sign language in India
- Understand the aims and aspirations of the differently-abled with a view to influence public policy which is beneficial to them
- Create a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices between persons with disabilities
- Sensitise fellow countrymen, members of civil society and policy makers to the needs and requirements of the specially abled
- Motivate and inspire the specially abled to unleash the potential within
Traversing through the longitudinal plane of India, criss-crossing 10 cities, Boniface will aim to finish the journey in 45 days beginning the second fortnight of April 2016. Thums Up, along with partners and NGOs will facilitate the expedition and the resources required for it, while also creating idea exchange forums and enabling community and civil society interactions.
As per the 2011 census, there are 26.8 million People with Disability in India and only 3% of them are gainfully employed unlike developed countries where the employment rate of people with disability is 30% to 50%. The World Bank estimates that excluding people with disabilities from the mainstream leads to an annual loss of 3%-7% of GDP.
The Thums Up VEER K2K dovetails into the Accessible India campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Announcing Thums Up VEER K2K, Debabrata Mukherjee, Vice President, Commercial & Marketing, Coca-Cola India, said, “Thums Up along with partners American India Foundation and Being Human, already run the VEER campaign, which trains the specially abled to make them employable. This year we are focusing on the softer aspects, taking guidance from the Prime Minister’s Accessible India campaign. We are glad that Boniface has agreed to lead K2K for us and I can’t think of a better forum to announce the Mission than the #Make In India Summit".
Elaborating on the Thums Up VEER K2K, Boniface Prabhu said, “While we are all focused on the core issues of technology, infrastructure, manufacturing etc at the #Make In India summit, I believe that we cannot make the India of our dreams if we do not leverage the skills and the potential of the specially abled. While on one hand, we need to mainstream the specially abled and create opportunities for them, on the other we also need to be sensitive to their unique requirements. I am hoping that this Mission will set the ground for some meaningful interventions in this space. Let us make an India, while making in India”.
About Thums Up VEER program
Thums Up, CNN IBN and Being Human along with American India Foundation launched VEER, a Campaign focused on unleashing the potential of the differently abled people in our country. Campaign VEER aims to address challenges such as inclusive education and employment, skill training and development, and advocating for disabled-friendly technology. With the support of its partners, the campaign is working at imparting vocational training to these individuals and ascertains their requirements so that they can be made job-ready. Hans Foundation has joined hands of the campaign a strategic partner.