Vikram Agnihotri was just another ordinary child who loved to go out and play and meet new people. At the age of seven, when Vikram was playing with friends, he came into contact with a high tension wire of 11,000 volts. The accident was so massive that even his bones were burnt.
After almost three months in the hospital and trying every alternative treatment, the doctors finally had to amputate both hands of the young child. In the days that followed, Agnihotri recalls the 'exemplary optimistic attitude' of his mother. She enforced in him that his life was way beyond losing his two limbs. She pushed him to believe that he was just another child who would lead an everyday life, go to school, learn new things, play with friends and grow up.
Learned To Use His Feet For Daily Activities
Gradually, Vikram Agnihotri recalls learning to use his feet for tasks like writing, brushing his teeth. However, he told The Logical Indian, "Nothing was easy and came to me overnight. It was a lot of effort and initial frustration that I would experience. Nonetheless, my mother would not allow me to give up at any cost. She would keep telling me that my disability was just a state of mind, and what matters is how I look at this situation." His mother insisted on him going out to play and never let him resign in a shell.
Talking about his education, he said that he has always attended regular school and never went to any special school. He said, "People were not even ready to give me admission in their school, but my parents insisted that if Vikram is going to study, he is going to study in a normal school. I believe that it would be best if you didn't feel that something is missing. If I had gone to a special school where someone kept reminding me of my disability, it would have become difficult for me to overcome."
After the accident, Vikram Agnihotri's father, a retired IPS Officer, shifted to Mumbai on a delegation to arrange for his rehabilitation. Mumbai was one of the first places where Agnihotri was admitted to a regular school that he recalls, had a French Principal. He mentioned that people are very concerned about their disability in India and revolve their entire lives around that. In contrast, in foreign countries, people are more concerned with an individual's potential.
While the family was still in Mumbai, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, visited his centre for rehabilitation. His mother walked up to Mrs Gandhi and complained about how poor infrastructure was for disabled children. That was when Prime Minister Gandhi's Secretary informed about a centre in Roehampton in London. Agnihotri eventually completed his Higher Education at a German School since his father was on a delegation with the Ministry of External Affairs in Germany.
Rejected Twice From IIMs
In 1986, Vikram came back to India and joined a college in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. For his graduation, he has completed B. Com and MA in Economics. Speaking to The Logical Indian, he said, "I appeared for the Common Admission Test (CAT) twice and received the letter for the interview and Group Discussion levels. However, I was rejected during the interview. In 1991, there was no quota for the disabled. A lot of questions the panel asked were focused on my disability, and thought that since the IIMs were residential schools, I would not be able to manage."
He further spoke about his initial career struggles. He recalled, "At that time, a lot of people told us that the government was offering gas agencies to people on compassionate grounds. So when Nothing was working out, my father and I applied for an agency in my name. Within three months of submitting the official application letter, I was managing a gas agency at the age of 23." But, he still felt that life did not challenge him enough.
What followed for Vikram's entrepreneurial career from 1993 to 2009. He set up a Non-Banking Finance Company, a garment business, and also a mini-steel plant. However, he still did not feel that this was his calling. Since then, he has been increasingly involved in social activities. Vikram always found it very amusing that people associate sadness and seriousness with a person who has faced a tragedy. In contrast, he always believed in celebrating every moment of life. It was this quality that he has been invited to talk about at several events to motivate students.
Went Back To College After 23 Years
In 2014, Vikram registered an NGO named "Vital Spark Welfare Society", subsequently he has established a brand called WIL that stands for 'Winners In Life'. Here, he would organise talks and motivational sessions at schools and corporates. The idea is that people from rural and tribal societies would come for short courses for vocational training. The same year, he joined LLB after 23 years.
While studying law, he read the Motor Vehicles Act and learned that nowhere was it mentioned that you require two hands and two legs to drive a car. Owing to his experience of observing people drive, Vikram had himself become a good backseat driver. Therefore, he was convinced that if he had his automatic car, he would be able to drive satisfactorily within one month. Therefore, he bought himself a car in 2015. However, when Vikram went to RTO with his father for a learner's license, he was denied because of his disability.
While talking about his journey with The Logical Indian, he said, "I only believe that in any situation, whether you think you can or you cannot, either way, you are right". He mentioned that he never felt that he was differently-abled because his parents, and his friends made sure he did things 'normally'. His mind was constantly reinforced with the belief that if others can achieve a particular feat, so can he, provided he works a little harder than the rest.
After several arguments and through some contacts, Vikram convinced the officer-in-charge to provide him with a learner's license for the time being. According to him,it was a great victory because if he could get a learner's license, he knew he would get a regular driving license as well.
But when he went to the RTO, the officer said that there was no way a permanent license could be issued to Vikram since there was no other amputee in the country who had a license. However, no fight was too big for him, and a few months later, he became the first Indian amputee to get a driving license. He who once lost both his arms to an accident at a very young age, today is an independent car racer who races in several motor rallies across the country!