Venkat Raman –
We have always believed and reported that Muskan Devta is a ‘Special Child with unusual talents’ and not a ‘Child with Special Needs.’
Our belief has been continuously proved right.
Muskan has been receiving accolades, citations and honours, the latest of which occurred on December 3, 2015, when she won the ‘Attitude ACC Supreme Award for 2015.’
Describing Muskan as ‘Champion for Social Good Look,’ a press note said that Muskan withstood strong competition and “took out the Youth Award Category’ and was then selected from the winners of eight award categories to win the ‘Overall Attitude ACC Supreme Award.”
The press note stated that December 3 was the ‘International Day of People with Disability.’
We believe that was not relevant to Muskan.
As mentioned in our first issue of the year (January 15), “We do not consider her ‘disabled,’ but the National Awards celebrated the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with a disability.”
Like last year, TVNZ news Presenter Simon Dallow hosted the Awards Ceremony.
Muskan was born premature (32 weeks) and hence carried symptoms of ‘underdevelopment.’ She was diagnosed with ‘Partial Hemiplegia,’ meaning that one-half of her body was weaker than the other.
Extremely concerned, her parents migrated to New Zealand in 2004 hoping that Muskan would receive better medical attention and education and become a ‘normal person.’ But adapting to a new country, language and school came with its challenges. She became extremely shy and a bookworm.
Reading led to passion and talent for writing. When she was nine years of age, she wrote and published a story about Lord Ganesha, explaining how the Remover of Obstacles got an elephant’s head.
Proceeds from the book went for purchase of an exercise bicycle for the ‘Wilson Home’ in Takapuna, where Muskan received treatment for her condition.
“I did not even realise when reading and writing became my strength. I loved reading and writing. In fact, I grew so fond of it that my teachers began asking me to help them edit the work of my peers,” she said.
In 2013, Muskan published her autobiography, ‘I Dream,’ to raise money for Starship Children’s Hospital where she underwent long-awaited corrective surgery.
Last year she donated $500 of her birthday money to support the ‘Breakfast Club,’ a programme providing breakfast for low decile schools in Auckland. Her future goal is to fundraise to build a girls’ school in the small village of Odisha (Orissa), the Eastern State of India, the home of her parents.
A shy girl no more, fundraising and writing have given Muskan a huge confidence boost. She presents a popular programme on Radio Tarana called ‘Aap Aur Muskan’ (You and Muskan). She was School Captain and has addressed the TEDx Conference the past two years. Her subject this year was ‘Importance of Diversity in New Zealand.’
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading.’ It began as a conference in California 26 years ago and has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives.
TEDx is a programme of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
Other Attitude Award winners this year were Otis Horne (Courage in Sport), Nick Chisholm (Spirit of Attitude), Rachel Callander (Making a Difference), Michael Johnson (Sport Performer of the Year), CQ Hotels Wellington (ACC Employer Award), Nicholas Brockelbank (Junior) and Salem Foxx (Artistic Achievement). Gary Williams was inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame and Sean Prendeville won the Attitude People’s Choice Award.
Muskan Devta receives the ‘Attitude ACC Supreme Award for 2015’ from Rugby League Winger Manu Vatuvei, watched by ACC Minister Nikki Kaye