Inspirations: Ferdinand Rodricks, 49

Photo: Ms Gopal

Mumbai, Maharashtra

Auto Innovator

By Aastha Atray Banan
Mumbaikar Ferdinand Rodricks has a clear mantra — every man should own his independence, and should not have to depend on anybody or anything. Little wonder then that the 49-year-old is dedicating his life to helping disabled people achieve the kind of mobility that most of us take for granted — drive a car. “Just because one does not have arms or legs does not mean he or she needs to depend on someone else to get around,” says Rodricks. The innovative automobile engineer embarked on his noble mission 25 years ago when he modified a car for a friend who had lost both his limbs in an accident. He first devised a hoist to get his friend into the car without difficulty. Once in the driver’s seat, his friend could hand operate the brake, accelerator and clutch. He has modified around 1,000 cars since. Rodricks has even devised a hoist to transfer paraplegics from their wheelchairs into the swimming pool — a device that is being used by the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Pune for its hydrotherapy sessions. “Besides driving safety and comfort, it’s about mobility with dignity,” he explains matter-of-factly.