A 31-year-old puts a stamp on the lines “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
Nikhil Prasad Baji, a Pune based lawyer diagnosed with cerebral palsy from birth fought against the odds to crack the judicial magistrate first class and civil judge junior division exam conducted by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) and is set to become a judge in February.
Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that occurs before, during or after birth while the infant’s brain is still developing and affects a person’s ability to move, maintain balance and posture. This condition can affect the whole body or might be limited to just one part of the body.
The Normal Childhood
Nikhil is one of the few who learned to take the bad with the good from a very young age. In an interview with The Logical Indian, he says “I was always comfortable in my own skin. Even as a differently-abled child, I was put through a normal school with normal school-going kids and it significantly contributed to my confidence. I was never made to feel like a ‘special child’ with special needs.”
Hinting on his interest in extra-curricular activities, he says “I ensured that I participated in every physical training session, even if that meant sitting on the fence with minimum physical movement. When children used to play cricket, I also felt like playing but due to disability, I could not. So I decided to become an Umpire and decided that even if I could not play, I can become a good Umpire.”
“Teachers used to speak out the answers during classes and at times when I was unable to catch up with them. I would not give up on the situation, I rather sought help from my friends and classmates and in addition invested more on my writing skills. The crucial point I am trying to put out is – there are always options open for you,” Nikhil tells The Logical Indian.
Inclination towards Law
Having an inclination towards political science since the beginning, Nikhil got into the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) through the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) in his first attempt. After completing his Bachelor of Law degree, he practised law at Shivajinagar District Court and also worked at the Debt Recovery Tribunal for five years.
Nikhil explains the process of the recruitment examination which is based on a three-tier structure comprising of a preliminary test, mains, and an interview, round stating that each examination required a different skillset. After coming back to Pune, he joined the BE Avhad’s Law classes and started preparing for the exams. He cleared the preliminary exams and while he was prepping up for the mains, he suffered from Bell’s Palsy which paralyzed his facial muscles. Determined not to give in to his weaknesses, he focused on his strengths and recovered within a month. From the ability to think on his toes for prelims to facing the unexpected during the interviews, Nikhil adds that he enjoyed the entire process and credits his success to his mentor Mr Ganesh Shirsat.
Referring to the turbulent times that the country is going through and the threats on civil society, he comments on the inevitable role played by the Indian judiciary and says “courts are the common door that people knock for justice and it is extremely important that those who are trusted with the responsibility uphold the judicial dignity.”
Positive Shift In Social Outlook Towards The Differently Abled
Nikhil staunchly believes that one cannot achieve something significant alone; it is a cooperative effort. Every person in your social life serves a purpose and there has been a growing positive social change towards the differently-abled.
Narrating one of his experiences he says, “I ride a two-wheeler and at times there is someone on the busy road who offers to help me park my vehicle. Whether it is the Disability Act in India or the fast track courts formed for speedy disposal of cases relating to them, there has been a wave of social acceptance.”
An elated Kanchan Prasad Baji, Nikhil’s mother, speaks to The Logical Indian and shares her story on the journey which began with the diagnosis of the disorder and ended with finding the right and effective treatment through physiotherapy.
“Nikhil was 11 years old when he started walking, he used to see other school-going boys riding a cycle and wanted one, that was the time his father customized a cycle with huge side-wheels for him.
We were quite sensible regarding our social interactions during those days since we were cautious not to invite an air of negativity around him. But things are changing now.”
Note to the Youth
“The first step towards solving a problem is acceptance. Acceptance brings clarity to the problem. The second is to find solutions to the problem with a strong belief in yourself.
I always look for positive examples in my life and derive motivation from them. One of the most significant examples of a positive push for me is the visually-challenged. People who cannot see are out there leading normal lives and chasing their dreams and when I look at them I lose my reasons to sit and cry.
Problems run through an unending circle in life but a positive outlook will take you places” Nikhil adds.