01 Nov Front Runner- Mohammed Asif Iqbal
Front Runners are exceptional individuals who run for the cause of educating children at Bhumi. Every stride they take helps Bhumi support the children with their literacy, numeracy and life skills. Thank you, Front Runners – for taking us forward in this journey of Change.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Visual impairment couldn’t hold him back as Mohammed Asif Iqbal has been an absolute inspiration to everyone to set the bar of excellency and determination to a new high by participating in multiple marathons.
I could not see well from birth and turned completely blind at the age of 16. During my early school days people felt pity for me and my parents. My teachers thought it was a waste of time to teach me. I was rejected by premier management institutes in India But nothing could deter me as I believe that the only disability a person can have is a bad attitude.
I am grateful for the opportunity to shift to the United States where I received early education and also learnt to operate computers through voice activated software. I passed my high school with a score of 90% in the US. I became the first blind commerce graduate from St.Xavier’s College, Kolkata and then the first blind MBA in HR from Symbiosis Pune. Presently I am a senior manager at PWC India and a motivational speaker too.
I was instrumental in creating reservation quota across IIM’s, IIT’s and all government aided universities in India. I have designed and implemented social inclusion strategy for Aadhar etc. I have also been appointed as the digital inclusion expert for smart city project under the government of India with the mission to empower the disabled technologically.
I am honoured with various awards such as West Bengal State Role Model award, Extra Ordinary Citizen of Kolkata award etc.
What made you take up running?
When I lost my eyesight completely, I started feeling depressed, put on a lot of weight and suffered from hypertension too. That kind of got me thinking that I am only 40 and it’s not right to have so many diseases at this age. I had great future plans for the society and my country, my health could not be a deterrent to all this!
So I was determined to get rid of all my health troubles and after doing some research decided to run regularly.
At first I started brisk walking with the help of my friends who motivated me a lot, they supported me all along even holding hands while I was trying to run. I trained rigorously five days a week .Amidst all this my friends started recommending me to join popular running events, but I did not have enough confidence to participate even in the 5 Km category.
With enough training & motivation now I participate in all marathons and also run without holding anyone’s hand. I am proud of how far I have come but I don’t feel like stopping. There is a long way to go and I am moving forward on that path every day.
What does running mean to you?
Running liberates your mind of all the negatives and enhances your ability. After I picked up running, I am much more focused and energetic. I am my own role model.
There is only one mantra that I follow – to become a better version of myself everyday. I feel I am my only competition!
It’s now a passion. I even recommend others to start running soon and not wait for health problems to occur.
What is the source of your inspiration? What keeps you motivated to continue running?
I am a big follower of two quotes: one by Mahatma Gandhi “For things to change first I must change” and another by Helen Keller “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement”.
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Do you think running should be associated with a cause? Why?
I am an advocate of Inclusion and believe in “Yes I can and together we will grow. I would like to ignite the minds of the youth and influence their thought process towards being inclusive in their workforce and in every sphere of life. Associating this cause of Inclusiveness with running will definitely help in building awareness among people. I look forward to contribute towards nation building and exploring partnership & collaborations to accomplish my mission of strong inclusive India that offers opportunities for all.
How do you associate Bhumi with the cause you believe in?
Bhumi is a crusader of inclusiveness. It is doing a great job in helping less privileged children to get included in mainstream society by empowering them through transformational education, life-skill support, scholarships etc. We complement each other in building Equity and Inclusion in our society.