India's First Blind Solo Paragliding Pilot Is Here To Change Perceptions

Two words bother him the most — 'sympathy' and 'inspiration', and Divyanshu Ganatra is looking for none

Growing up in Pune, Divyanshu Ganatra had always been an outdoor person — trekking mountains, climbing trees and swimming in lakes. As a teenager, he used to backpack across India. But when he turned 19, his world completely turned upside down after he lost his eyesight to Glaucoma.

But he didn’t allow that to restrict him.

After briefly working in Information Technology and studying psychology and neuroscience, Ganatra knew he needed to be outdoors. So he started cycling and rock climbing and in 2014, at the age of 26, he tried paragliding with an instructor which he says made him feel liberated.

He told The Indian Express,

“I always wanted to fly and I was upto 700 feet high in the air. It was exhilarating. I was enjoying complete freedom. It was a very beautiful experience which I cannot describe in words. At the most, I can say I was experiencing oneness with nature and its elements.”

Divyanshu went on to become India’s first blind solo paragliding pilot. He added,

“We can focus either on problems or solutions. It is up to our perspective towards looking at things. With this frame of mind, any disabled person can overcome any challenge in life.”

He also started the Adventure Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF) which attempts to make outdoor sports more inclusive as well as break societal attitudes about the disabled. His not-for-profit organisation has five verticals and often sees both these communities joining hands.

He told The Indian Express,

“Sports is a great breaker of barriers. When both communities participate in these activities, empathy is naturally built.”

Two words bother him the most — ‘sympathy’ and ‘inspiration’, and Divyanshu Ganatra is looking for none.