Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Not At All Visually Challenged

'Inspiring Ilango', despite a lack of sight, is a noted voice-over artiste, singer, public speaker and entrepreneur

Photo by Ratheesh Sundaram

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, in 1990, when Inspiring Ilango stepped outside the classroom at the Loyola College, Chennai, a group of seniors stopped him. They said they wanted to talk to him. One of them even yanked at Ilango's collar. The group then moved to the middle of the football ground. And then they began to hurl insults at Ilango.

All of them had been irked by Ilango's passion for the English language. “They felt that I was a snob,” says the Chennai-based Ilango, while on a recent visit to Kochi. “When I told them that I had studied in Tamil-medium schools, they laughed and said, 'Do you think you can master English?'”

Thereafter, one student, Robert Daniel (name changed) said, “Forget about your English. You don’t have something that we all have. You can’t see. You can’t see your mother’s face, you can’t see the sunrise or sunset. You have not seen your own face. Have you ever thought of killing yourself?”

Ilango felt that he had been hit by a thunderbolt. “I did think about killing myself,” he told them. “I asked myself, 'Why was I created like this? All my friends can see and enjoy life.' But from now onwards, let me assure you, I will die a natural death. Because, if people like you can exist then why can’t I?'”

It was a turning point for Ilango. A fierce determination and a desire to succeed sprung to life within him. Eventually, Ilango got a M. Phil in English Language Teaching from the University of Madras. And today, Ilango is a success in every sense of the word.

He is a voice-over artiste, in English and Tamil, for hundreds of advertisements. Apart from that, he is an ace singer, who knows more than 3000 songs in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Telugu. He runs his own company, Ace Panacea Life Skills, which as the name suggests, is to develop people skills so that they can do well in society. 

But his drawing card is as an inspiring public speaker for companies, schools, colleges, NGOs, and various social and cultural organisations. The topics vary from entrepreneurship, leadership qualities, secrets of happiness, inter-personal skills, and effective communication skills for business and personal success.

Incidentally when asked about his name, 'Inspiring Ilango', he says, “Once, after hearing my speech, Dr. C. Sylendra Babu, a senior police officer, at Chennai, told the audience, 'This gentleman is not Ilango, but Inspiring Ilango'. Ever since then I have been known by this name.”

Meanwhile, when asked whether people lack the staying power to reach success, Ilango says, “I agree. One of the most successful insurance salesmen in the US, Ben Feldman, was asked this question: 'How many times would you knock on the door of a customer, who repeatedly says no'. Ben's reply: 'It depends on which one of us dies first'. There is a powerful truth in this statement. Until you succeed, the effort must be there, no matter how long it takes, be it one or two decades. It might happen two days before you die, but you should never give up.”

At Kochi, Ilango had come to offer support for the 22 visually challenged people who are operating the first telesales centre operated set up by the Society for the Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged (SRVC). “This is a very good initiative,” says Ilango. SRVC Project Head MC Roy says, “Yes, it is. As for Ilango, he is a great achiever.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)    

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