India Interior

Indore man drives a crucial change in motoring law

Usha Rai | Updated on January 12, 2018

Happy feet Vikram Agnihotri is the first handless person to be given a driving licence in India - Usha Rai


Three cheers! Vikram Agnihotri, seen with his parents, became the first handless person to be given a driving licence in India - Usha Rai

Vikram Agnihotri can drive a car with his feet

Vikram Agnihotri, 47, of Indore has no hands but he drives a modified Maruti Celerio AGS (automatic gear shift); on September 30, 2016, he got his permanent driving licence from the Indore RTO. He has since driven over 22,000 km without an incident and is the chauffeur for his proud parents. His rare achievement will soon earn him an entry in the Limca Book of Records.

Getting the driving licence was a formidable task, says Vikram. He got his car in 2015, but could find no driving schools or trainers for hand amputees. He instead watched foreign videos of handless driving and, within three months, he learned to drive using his feet. Although the RTO authorities admired his driving skill, his licence application was initially rejected on the ground that the Motor Vehicles Act has no provision to grant one to a bilateral amputee.

No giving up

Vikram and his family took up the issue with the government. They pleaded that the Motor Vehicles Act should be made dynamic and updated for the changing times. Given the stated policy of ‘ sab ke saath, sab ka vikas’ (inclusive development), how could a large segment of the population be denied a driving licence?

After a year of follow-ups, the Act was amended and Agnihotri was the first handless person to be given a driving licence. With understandable pride, he points out that the amendment in the law will benefit millions of disabled people aspiring to get a driving licence.

The story of Agnihotri’s struggle to lead a normal life and his zest for life and never-say-die spirit is an inspiring one. Both his hands were completely charred when he came in contact with a 11kv high-tension line when he was just seven. After the amputation, with the support of his family, especially his mother, he trained himself to do all his daily tasks on his own — from brushing teeth to shaving, bathing and eating.

He studied in regular schools in Mumbai, London and Bonn (Germany). He writes with his right foot and earned a BCom in 1989, and an MA in Economics in 1991. Returning to college after a gap of 23 years, he is in the final year of LLB. He uses a computer for all his official work.

For the love of football

He passionately watches and plays football, and has served as convener and coordinator at the Yeshwant Club, Indore. An adept swimmer, he learnt to swim hands-free at the NSCI Mumbai. He works out at the gym and recently took up aero modelling as a hobby.

Interestingly, his desire to drive stemmed from his love for football. When the family moved residence some years ago to a slightly out-of-the-way colony, he struggled to get to the football ground. He took a bus to a central point and then waited for his friends to pick him up and drop him back at the bus stop after a game at the club. Though the family could hire a driver, he felt they were unreliable. He chafed at his lack of mobility and independence, and resolved to fight for his driver’s licence.

Agnihotri is the chairman of a non-profit, Vital Spark Welfare Society, whose objective is to motivate people to become winners. It organises motivational training programmes, lectures and workshops for corporates, colleges and schools. Currently he is the proprietor of a gas agency in Indore, but has experience running several business enterprises in the past.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi

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Published on June 30, 2017
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