hot seat: Mujahid sits on his wheelchair, but doesn’t treat it differently from a swivel chair
Engineering degree under his belt, a three-year stint with an IT major and an MBA from an IIM now.
If you were to bump into Mujahid Ahmed on, say, a social networking site, he would have struck you as just other 27-year-old upwardly mobile achiever.
It’s when you meet him on the campus of IIM, Ranchi, that you discover just how the name — it means fighter — suits him.
For Mujahid, one of the 166 entrants in the 2012 batch, is confined to an electronic wheelchair thanks to a crippling bout of rheumatoid arthritis as a ninth grader in Lucknow.
Forget legs or backbone, even his jaws don’t move properly. His hands and willpower make up for the rest.
After school, this achiever went on to do a BTech in computer science from Krishna Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ghaziabad, worked at Infosys in Bangalore for three years, prepared for an MBA and got through IIMs in Kashipur, Ranchi, Raipur, Trichy and Udaipur before zeroing in on the one in the capital.
And he is not bitter about being unable to sprint for a quick coffee break, to cite an instance.
“In Class IX, my body started developing rheumatoid arthritis due to a malfunctioning auto-immune system. My family consulted numerous medical experts, but to no avail. But, I’m cool,” says Mujahid.
Invariably polite, he quickly says “excuse me” before checking an email on his iPhone.
The Ahmeds are originally from Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh, but right now, his father Alauddin Ahmed is in Arunachal Pradesh where he is an assistant engineer with the PWD and his mother, homemaker Sakina Begum is in Ranchi.
Sakina has been permitted by the IIM to stay with her son in his hostel at Khel Gaon while he pursues his post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM) course at IIM.
That’s 8km away from the IIM campus at Suchana Bhavan, Kanke Road. But it doesn’t frazzle Muhajid. “They (read physically handicapped) should always come forward and prove their worth. Look at me, I am doing good,” he says.
A large part of his confidence stems from his family. His parents “encouraged me to think big” while his sister, an MBBS, and his brother, a BTech student of NIT, Durgapur, never treated him differently.
Even his friends at IIM vouch for the fact that he rarely asks for help. “I don’t know what we do for him. He does a lot for us by proving every moment that nothing is impossible,” says batch mate Avinash Pakhre.
Mujahid has taken a liking to the B-school and the city.
“IIM has an excellent faculty and environment. Great weather,” he gushes. Anything else? “Most important. The people here are warm,” he adds.
His classmate Randeep Singh Brar has a minor congenital finger deformity. But this computer science engineer, who’s a farmer’s son from Muktsar Sahib district of Punjab, also feels “chilled out”.
IIM director M.J. Xavier chips in with the last word. “All are brilliant students raring to scale heights. All are special,” he smiles.
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