– Message of condolence on the passing of WBU Secretary General

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Dear members and friends of the WBU,

We at the World Blind Union (WBU) are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our Secretary General, Mr Ajay Kumar Mittal, on September 22. Mr. Mittal passed away at Yatharth hospital, Noida Extension, in India. He leaves behind his wife Meera, daughter Nitika and son in law, Dushyant.  

Mr. Mittal was the Secretary General of the World Blind Union since 2016 and the Chairman of the WBU Development Committee. Previously, he was the WBU Treasurer from 2008 till 2016.

Mr. Mittal has been an integral part of the self-help movement of the blind for more than 40 years. He was the president of the All India Confederation of the Blind, one of the principal organizations of the blind in India.

He had held top administrative and leadership positions in the Government of India and voluntary organizations for over 40 years. He was the Director of the apex government organization working with the blind in the country for over 22 years and he was also the head of a reputed private school for the blind and a teacher-training institute for about 15 years. He held two degrees, Master of Arts in English Literature and a Masters in Education, and has contributed numerous research papers, articles and projects on different occasions and has visited a number of countries in Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

Mr. Mittal was passionate about learning and promotion of Braille, access to quality education for all blind and partially sighted children and about ensuring involvement of developing countries in WBU work. His leadership, expertise and strong sense of social justice will be sorely missed.

Messages from our officers and members

Dr. Fred Schroeder, President of the World Blind Union

Dear friends, the World Blind Union is deeply saddened by the news of Mr. A.K. Mittal’s passing. We cannot express the sadness we feel at this time. We are mourning the loss of a great man, a visionary, a leader. A.K. was a fine and kind man, a great supporter and a committed advocate for the rights of our blind and partially sighted community. He was an inspiration to all of us.

On behalf of the Executive Board and membership of the World Blind Union we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones.

He will be sadly missed by many, but his legacy will live on for many years to come.

Mr. Ishumael Zhou, President of the African Union of the Blind President (AFUB)

As African Union of the Blind President, Director of the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind and indeed in my personal capacity, I would like to convey our deepest sympathies for the passing on of AK Mittal. The sad news comes as a great setback to the WBU and its family. A. K was the engine room of the World Blind Union executive committee and was a dedicated efficient and effective as both Secretary General of the WBU and Chairperson of its development committee. Our broken hearts and souls are with his immediate family and the All India Confederation of the Blind. May his dear soul find favour in the eyes of the Almighty

Mr. Rodolfo Cattani, President, European Blind Union – EBU

It is with deep sadness that we at the European Blind Union learned about the passing of a long-standing colleague, ally and friend, A.K. Mittal, known to so many of us at EBU. We would like to convey our heart-felt sympathy to his family and friends in this difficult moment and express our gratitude for Mr Mittal’s tireless commitment to the life of blind and partially sighted people around the world. Especially his commitment to improving the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people in low- and middle-income countries will always be remembered and inspire many of us to follow his example.

Mr. Charles Mossop, President, WBU North America and Caribbean Region

The sudden passing of Mr. Mittal, taken untimely from us by this savage pandemic, has deeply saddened all of us. On behalf of the North America and Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, I extend sincere condolences to his family and to all those who knew and worked with him. He will be greatly missed.

He leaves an inspiring legacy which will serve as a shining example to all those in the blindness community throughout the world. As WBU Treasurer, Secretary-General, and Chair of the Development Committee, as well as in his tireless work in India, he was dedicated to the goal of improving the lives of persons who are blind or partially sighted, no matter who or where they are. He was a true internationalist who worked for the world. AK. as many of us called him in affection and respect, and I worked closely together for more than eight years, and I have been grateful on many occasions for his wise counsel and unfailing support. I remember well the many conversations we had together, and his subtle and delightful sense of humor. We have all lost a dear friend and a fine colleague, but we shall always remember him for the contribution he made, and the man he was.

Dr. Penny Hartin, former Chief Executive Officer of the WBU,  Honorary member of the WBU

It was an honour and privilege for me to work with Mr. Ajai Kumar Mittal during my years with the World Blind Union as its first CEO.  During the eight years he served as Treasurer, he demonstrated meticulous attention to detail, wisdom and kindness.  He had the ability to convey complex financial matters in a way that was well understood by our members and instilled confidence that our WBU finances were being well managed and monitored by the elected Officers.  What I recall so well is that he would ensure every decision taken reflected the needs and realities of our members and the blind persons they represented in the least developed parts of the world.  His dedication to blind people throughout the world, his meticulous approach to everything he undertook, and his generous spirit will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure to know and work with A. K. Mittal.”

Mr. Wolfgang Angermann, EBU representative in WBU Executive Committee

This terrible virus has taken away one of our finest representatives within WBU. A.K. was a wonderful friend and colleague. He is still on my mind with his accurate and clear, easy to understand presentations. All those who knew him will remember him with admiration and gratitude.

Ms. Ianina Rodriguez, WBU Administrative Assistant

It was with immense sadness to wake up this morning and receive the news about Mr. Mittal’s passing. My heart is heavy! It feels like I have lost a family member.

I have known Mr. Mittal throughout my tenure at WBU and became very fond of him. He has been a wonderful support to all of us for many years. It has always been a pleasure to work with him; such a gentleman, with a great sense of humour -that’s the way he’ll be remembered.

We embrace his family now, especially his beautiful and sweet wife, Meera. Only fond and refreshing memories will stay in my heart.

Dr. Frances Gentle, President, International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI)

On behalf of ICEVI, Mani and I wish to express our sorrow at the passing of Mr. A.K. Mittal, Secretary General of WBU.

Ajai Kumar Mittal has been an enormous contributor to the field of vision impairment education, and a passionate promoter of the rights of children to braille literacy. It is hard to comprehend that a man of such compassion, intelligence and human spirit is no longer with us. We will miss his friendship and wise counsel and his presence along life’s journey.

A.K. Mittal was a valued member of the ICEVI Executive Committee. He represented WBU and contributed to the implementation of ICEVI priorities and joint WBU-ICEVI initiatives.

We join WBU in expressing our sincere condolences to A.K.’s loved ones and colleagues.

Let the bells ring out in honour of his passing.

J. L. Kaul, Secretary General, All India Confederation of the Blind

Mr Ajay Kumar Mittal was a champion and crusader for equality and an inclusive civil. His family was global, including all those with visual impairment and those who worked and campaigned towards an inclusive society. As treasurer and currently serving Secretary General of the World Blind Union, he impacted lives throughout the world; all of whom were his family. Blindness never deterred him from pursuit of excellence in his life.

It is with heavy heart I am informing you that our Organization’s President, Mr. A.K. Mittal and my long-trusted friend and well-wisher is no more.  I need not to mention it here that the Country has lost a great man, and this is an irreparable loss for all of us nationally and internationally. I have not seen any knowledgeable person like him in my life.

Mr. Mittal was the long serving President since 2007. “Education is the key to empowerment” was the common refrain and for years he was the Principal of the well-reputed JPM Senior Secondary School for the Blind run by the Blind Relief Association, New Delhi. As the Principal, he became the Mentor to hundreds of children, who were rudderless, till then. His students today occupy distinguished and respected positions as bankers, teachers, civil servants and in many other positions too numerous to recount in detail.

He was handpicked by the Government to head the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, a position he served with distinction for over two decades, first at Dehradun and then at the Centre created at Chennai. Meanwhile his passion for scholarship, reflected in his double Masters degree of English and Education, later augmented by a Diploma in Education from the world-renowned Perkins School for the Blind USA; found expression in the many books he authored, edited or inspired others to write on aspects of social inclusion, special education and biographical inspirational accounts of achievers, many of whom his own former students!

The country will forever be indebted to him for his constructive role in influencing social sector laws as member of numerous government established Advisory bodies, especially of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Most importantly, international organisations repeatedly turned to him for contributing his vision to the strategic development and implementation of UN mandated sustainable development goals and the UNCRPD – UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities. Leadership roles were thrust at him and it is to his immense credit that he balanced his professional life with social activism and scholarship all the while raising a beautiful family with his sighted wife Meera by his side and two daughters, the younger of whom unfortunately predeceased him succumbing to Cancer.

His loss is incalculable. However, the greatest tribute to his life and mission would be in rededicating ourselves to two things dearest to him.

Fredric K. Schroeder, President
World Blind Union
Email: president@wbu.ngo

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