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'Conquer Land Air and Water' (C.L.A.W.), a social organisation that aims to rehabilitate persons with disabilities through adaptive adventure sports."Everything is impossible till it's done," is the motto of Major Vivek Jacob, the founder of the organisation.
Major Jacob who was previously a part of Para Special Forces has brought together a team of such veterans to work towards it. All those who are a part of it have multiple specialities such as skydiving, scuba diving, mountaineering and emergency medical response.
"Men apart every man an emperor", Shatrujeet (The Conqueror) is the motto of Indian Army Paratroopers.
Till date, it has trained over 100 specially-abled people in scuba diving as part of its initiative 'Operation Blue Freedom', reported The New Indian Express.
Major General SK Razdan, 65, got paralysed after he was hit by a bullet while fighting terrorists in Kashmir. Despite the injury, he got himself trained in Scuba Diving at Operation Blue Freedom's Delhi chapter.
'Operation Blue Freedom', which was launched in 2019, works on the objective to change society's perception towards people with disabilities. It wants them to recognise their capabilities and at the same time, enable them to get suitable jobs and contribute to the economy.
The team has trained more than 100 people who were paralysed due to spinal cord injuries in scuba diving. Major Jacob has himself suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a parachute malfunctioning in 2015. During his recovery period, he met Flight Lieutenant Bhaduria, who was permanently paralysed in a freak accident.
Flight Lieutenant Bhaduria was wheelchair-bound after the accident. He asked Major Jacob if he could scuba dive. The question inspired him to take up scuba diving which has now transformed into the group named CLAW.
Jacob took voluntary retirement and wants to now work on this vision. He soon asked others who were passionate about the same activities to join him.
A unique aspect of CLAW is that most of its members are either from Indian Army Para Commandos or the Naval Marine Commandos, also known as the M.A.R.C.O.S. The core team, which comprises of eight has scuba diving experience of close to 40,000 hours.
Although it has been just three years since it started, the organisation doesn't want to restrict itself to scuba diving. While exploring new avenues in sports adventure, one of its primary aims is that it wants to shatter the stereotypes associated with being disabled.
Through the group, Major Jacob wants to create a powerful perception of ability and freedom. The group aims to set Triple World Records. Going ahead, persons with disabilities (PwDs) will be trained not just in adaptive scuba diving, but there will also be adaptive skydiving and adaptive mountaineering programmes.
The scuba diving world record will be held in the open sea at the Maldives. The other two record attempts will involve scaling the world's highest battlefield at Siachen Glacier, and another one includes accelerated free fall (Skydiving) in Dubai.
Apart from this, 'CLAW Global' has also signed an MoU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with US-based Handicapped SCUBA Association. The US Based- association holds 39 years of experience in training people with disabilities in scuba diving and in using these skills to rehabilitate persons with disabilities.
Right before COVID-19 cases started emerging in India in March, the team CLAW travelled to Lakshadweep for 'Open Sea Scuba diving'. What was unique about this event was that one person with disability trained another PwD.
In October, the team signed an MoU with the Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation, to carry out its initiative named 'Operation Blue Freedom - Water World Record' in the Maldives. The main aim behind it is at establishing a water world record to be held in February next year. It will also bring collaboration between CLAW Global and the Maldivian Integrated Tourism Development Corporation to create an ecosystem for people with disabilities in the Maldives.
Further, Jacob explains that for rehabilitative Scuba Diving and Scuba-based occupational therapy, there was a requirement for clear waters with good marine biodiversity, and this led to the Maldives being chosen for the water world record attempt.
In India, the only place which fulfils is Lakshadweep. However, Lakshadweep is still not open for people from the mainland. For the water world record, the team will be training 50 people with disabilities.
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