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Meet Vikram Agnihotri, India's first double-amputee with a permanent driving license

Vikram Agnihotri from Indore is the first double upper-limb amputee to get a permanent driving license. The 52-year-old never let his disability define him. Instead, he worked hard to become a professional car racer, swimmer, gym enthusiast, footballer, aero-modeller (someone who builds and flies model aeroplanes), and a record holder in the Limca Book of Records (a book documenting world records held by Indians). At the age of 7 he lost his upper limbs in an electrocution accident. His family, especially his mother, supported him and encouraged him to believe there was nothing he could not do, helping him to learn to write and do other activities with his feet. His parents did not want him to attend a ‘special school’ and enrolled him to a regular school. A car enthusiast from the beginning, Vikram decided he wanted to learn to drive and started searching for driving schools. To his surprise, there were no schools or training centres that offered driving lessons for people like him, so he decided to learn the skill himself. With a supportive friend who would control the gear and the clutch, Vikram would steer the wheel with one foot while shuffling between the brake and accelerator with the other, eventually mastering the skill. But the journey to get a driving license was challenging for him. Vikram first researched the Motor Vehicles Act and its provisions for people with disabilities. Surprisingly, the law did not explicitly bar people with disabilities. In 2015, Vikram decided to invest in a car with automatic gears and applied for a driving license. The authorities denied him his driving license due to his disability. This compelled Vikram to take the case to the RTO (Regional Transport Office, that regulates such matters) where he raised the ambiguity of the law. His mission started gathering media attention and the authorities pacified him with a temporary learner license. But Vikram was determined to get a permanent one. In October 2016, after 15 months of constant effort, Vikram finally got a permanent license. He also enabled a landmark amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act that allowed people with disabilities the right to drive. Following this, in 2017, a gentleman from Indore who organises motorsport races walked into Vikram’s office and asked him to participate in the race. Vikram went on to win that race in the amateur category, after which he was automatically promoted to the professional category for the next TSD (Time Speed Distance) race. Looking at his performance, Northern Motorsports invited him to race in one of the most difficult rallies in India, the Desert Storm. He happily accepted the challenge and entered the 2018 edition of the rally with just his stock Celerio and still managed to complete the race.

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