Published: 04th August 2020
This visually-impaired Mumbaikar is giving financial lessons to the disabled. Here's why it's awesome
Rahul Kelapure came to Mumbai after Class XII for better opportunities and accessibility. Now, he is ensuring that he gives back to the society what it gave him in equal measure. This is his story
When Rahul Kelapure delivers workshops on finance and education for the disabled, the audience is almost always in awe. There are two reasons behind it. Firstly, because of the simple and easy content he delivers and the second reason is that with Rahul, they feel a kinship. Since he is visually-impaired himself, they feel a possibility that yes, they too can become adept at handling their finances just like he did, despite his impairment.
During a workshop | (Pic: Rahul Kelapure)
Right from opening a bank account to investments in mutual funds — everything is covered. "Because the disabled are more vulnerable and need a different kind of take on investments, I try to deliver the workshop from this standpoint," says the 38-year-old. His count of workshops goes something like this, he has delivered over 35 workshops in partnership with about 15 NGOs. About 3,500 people have attended it and about 1,500 have directly benefited from it. "The most important aspects I cover help them understand what kind of investment they are getting into, if it is suitable to their requirement and also understand the time frame in terms of return of investment," he explains.
Simple and straight forward
But since when did Rahul become this vessel of financial information? Let us take you through his achievements. Currently, Rahul works as an Assistant Legal Advisor in the Legal Affairs Department of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). He is a gold medalist in LLB from Government Law College, Mumbai and has pursued his postgraduate in Securities Law from National Institute of Securities Market (NISM). But learning goes on for this youngster as he is pursuing his Company Secretary course and MBA in Finance from Welingkar Institute. "I don't get into too much technicality because that tends to put people off. I talk in purely action-oriented terms and keep it simple," he explains and adds, "Because the disabled are not always financially well to do, for starters, I tell them to invest very small amounts and invest regularly. But that doesn't mean they have to invest the same amount every time. They can be flexible depending on the money at hand."
Delivering a workshop | (Pic: Rahul Kelapure)
For the love of books
Rahul also delivers workshops on accessibility and teaches the disabled about the accessibility technology available on their Android phones that they can make the most of. Upon all this, he even converts rare Marathi printed books into the digital format by using Marathi Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so that a screen reader can easily read it out to listeners who can't read or are unable to hold books in their hands. "I was born in Chandrapur and have studied in Marathi medium till class XII. I soon realised that they are wonderful books that are just not accessible to the visually-impaired. Which is why I started doing this about one and a half years ago," he explains. For now, he just distributes these digital books on demand and is working to ensure that word gets out about this. He has worked on 50 such books till date. "OCR doesn't support Indian languages, but I am trying my best," he says.