Economic Times, Auto |
Kerala, KOCHI: The tale of wheelchair-bound Biju Varghese who built a car engineering system to help those like him drive is about a man’s grit and determination to face life’s challenges head on. The 44-year-old award winning entrepreneur’s ‘Spince Engineering’ stall is one of the nearly 200 exhibitors at the ‘Vyapar 2017’ meet, a trade event being organised by the Kerala government to showcase its robust Small and Medium Enterprises sector. The system developed by Biju allows people in wheelchairs to drive using a hand-operated brake, clutch and accelerator lever, which can be fitted on to the gear of any car.
The system developed in 2003 and approved by Automotive Research Association of India can be fitted in 15 minutes with no alterations to the car and can be removed just as easily, the ‘Vyapar 2017’ organisers said here. While the unit can cost between Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 depending on a person’s disability, Biju fits it free of cost to those who cannot afford it. The differently-abled man works out of a workshop near his house in Mukkoottuthara in Kottayam district. He has employed two workers. “I feel proud that I have given a new lease of life to over 2,000 disabled people and, in turn, to their families,” said Biju who suffered a spinal injury in a road accident when he was 25.
The gritty innovator decided that he was not going to let the injury leave him bedridden, and through a trial and error method, the self-taught mechanic developed the unit. “My car can go upto 170 km per hour when I drive on the highway to Pune,” he pointed out proudly. However, tragedy struck Biju’s life when his wife developed a brain tumour and underwent a surgery last year. But the couple, who have a son, are determined not to be cowed down. “I drive to Vellore Christian Medical Centre every Thursday for my wife’s treatment,” he said. The entrepreneur’s dream is for his work to be picked up by an automotive engineering company, so that it can be widely recognised and distributed. “I have done so much almost single-handedly. Now, I want many disabled people, all over the world, to benefit from this,” Biju added. – Courtesy