Book Review: Gifted

Gifted, People With Disability

With VR Ferose, the author of Gifted

I met Siddharth Jayakumar during the first India Inclusion Summit. The purpose of the summit was to showcase people with disabilities who have gone on to achieve extraordinary heights. Siddharth is the first CDCS (Certified Documentary Credit Specialist) with cerebral palsy in India, who is presently a manager at IndusInd Bank Ltd. He is recipient of National award by Ministry of Social Justice. Above all he is an inspiring speaker who really knows what it means to fight against all odds.

Cerebral Palsy has affected his speech and control over his movements but not his spirit. Siddharth has spoken at TEDx and to college students as well as to corporate leaders. Regardless of the audience the effect is always the same. People are left humbled by Siddharth’s refusal to treat himself as any different because of his disability. It is the rest of the world that has yet to come to terms with disabled people. You should watch Siddharth speak about his journey.

Gifted: Inspiring Stories of People with Difficulties documents 15 stories of people who have risen above the limitations of the disability to fight back. Gifted is the result of the collaboration between journalist Sudha Menon and the VR Ferose, Senior Vice President and Head of Globalization Service for SAP and the former Managing Director of SAP Labs India. It was his persistent efforts that led to SAP Labs in India hiring people with autism. The third-largest software firm in the world, SAP says that people with autism will make up 1 percent of its workforce by 2020.

Or take the case of Malathi Holla who is an Arjuna Awardee and Padmashree recipient. When she was barely a year old she was affected by polio. Till the age of 5, the only portion of her body she could move was her neck. She has represented India at various events such as the Asian Games and the Commonwealth games. She says, “Only my body is disabled but my self-confidence is not disabled.”

Sandeep Rao is a partially blind stand up comedian whose says, “The inability to laugh at life’s problems, challenges and inadequacies is a disability in itself!” He should know. After all he earns his living by laughing at his own disability and the follies of the rest of the world much like any other stand up comic. He is witty and irreverent whose routine had the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter. He laughs about going on a “blind date” and then goes on to the rest of his act.

If you ever feel that your problems are too big for you to handle, that is just the day when you should read this book. The stories of these extraordinary fighters will inspire you. If you ever feel that life has given you a raw deal, read the stories of these 15 people who really redefine what it means to be gifted.

Is there ever a scenario when having a certain disability is the greatest qualification for a job? Yes…

In one of the plants where I had worked, the workers used to complain about working in the packaging section. The machines are too noisy, they would say to their supervisors. They were afraid of losing their hearing despite being given protective muffs. Then someone came up with the brilliant idea of hiring only people with hearing disability in that section. That was an “aha moment” for me. Here was a scenario when not being able to hear was the perfect qualification for the job. Guess who turned out to be gifted?

In summary, go ahead and buy this best seller. That may be the best gift to give yourself.


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  1. Parvathi Sriram says:

    I love the name of the book….the specially abled are truly “Gifted”.
    It is absolutely inspiring to know about their journey. I have met people like “Mark Inglis” a double amputee who climbed the mount everest, “Deepa Malik” the first paraplegic Indian woman who is a biker, car rallyist, swimmer…… “Arunima Sinha” First Indian woman amputee who climbed the mount everest…..They have one thing in common….. A clear purpose for their life and undettered focus. Thank you Abhijit for introducing this book through your website. I am getting one right away.

  2. Parvathi – this book tells us that we need to redefine achievement and success. The achievement of people like Arunima Sinha leaves many other achievements by others very pale.

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