Banking professional and social entrepreneur
Blind: From birth
An old Japanese proverb says, "Fall seven times, stand up the eight". Paul Mudda has certainly stood up several times. But for him the falls were twice as painful. Grappling with being visually challenged as well as coping with the trauma of being an orphan is a daunting prospect. Yet Paul has overcome every hurdle in life and stands today as an epitome of inspiration.
All that Paul knows about his early life is that he was taken by a blind social worker from Hassan and left at Whitefield's Divine Light School for the blind in 1971. This school provided succour to the young boy by offering him accommodation, food and education. From there began Paul's journey of travails and successes. As a student at the Divine Light School, Paul learnt Braille and mobility. He was one of the first batches of students who were tried for the Integrated Education for the Disabled (IED) Program. In the early 80s, the concept of integrated education was not an idea that was received easily. Paul had to work twice as hard and struggle just as much. He has had to fight for his rights, be it fighting with the government to take his science and math exams to securing admission in a college. It has been blood, sweat and tears along the way and of course the support and encouragement of his teachers and friends.
Paul received the Yamuna Bai award for securing highest marks in SSLC. He completed his B.A. and M.A. in Economics, though it was a struggle to get a seat. While pursuing his B.A., Paul was selected for Canara Bank through a common examination. When he completed his M.A., Paul got a home of his own when a family offered to adopt him. Paul applied for an M.B.A. in Bangalore University, but despite his excellent academic record he was denied admission. A fighting spirit never gives up easily and Paul took it up with the Vice Chancellor and put forward his case. He won and became the first ever visually challenged management student in the university.
Working at the bank and attending evening classes at the university, life was none too easy. Along with this, the struggle of commuting, hunting for books and endless studying. Paul however passed through all this with flying colours.
After completing his M.B.A., Paul applied for an officer's position at his bank. Even at that time, he had to act as his own advocate and justify how he could fulfil the obligations expected of an officer. Paul was one of the first officers in the bank and at present the bank has a total of 12 visually challenged officers.
The fruits of labour are very sweet and the cherry on the cake for Paul was the 'Best Physically Challenged Employee' award he received from President Abdul Kalam. The award justifies all his years of struggles and hard work to make it to the top.
To help people with disabilities, Paul along with two of his visually challenged friends Mahantesh and Nagesh established the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled in 1997. The initial objective was to provide hostel and education facilities to visually impaired girls pursuing their studies beyond tenth standard. Today the Trust has expanded to include diverse projects for the benefit of physically and economically challenged students. Besides getting students admitted to many of the city's prestigious colleges, the Trust also provides readers and scribe services.
Paul has travelled extensively to the U.S., U.K. and Europe to raise funds and give an exposure to the children at Samarthanam. He was honoured by the Governor of Karnataka for his services in 2002. Apart from this, Paul has done more than his bit for society by donating blood 27 times. He has also organized blood donation camps to encourage voluntary donation. On the personal front, Paul is married with two children.