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Srijit Mazumder TCS

Smashing Past Challenges

Srijit Mazumder from Tata Consultancy Services on his international table tennis debut at the Deaflympics

March 2023     |     908 words     |     4-minute read

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The more challenges I faced, the more I challenged myself to be stronger from the inside, says Srijit Mazumder, a web developer at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), who represented India at the Summer Deaflympics held in 2022 in Brazil. In his debut international table tennis outing, Mr Mazumder beat off stiff competition to be ranked in 9th in the men’s doubles category, 17th in the mixed doubles category, and 33rd in the men’s singles category.

“It was a grand experience and I feel proud to be able to represent my country on a global platform. It has motivated me to work harder to improve my game,” says Mr Mazumder, who has started training for the 4th World Deaf Table Tennis Championships taking place in Taipei, Taiwan, this year.

Stepping up to the challenge

The journey hasn’t been an easy one for Mr Mazumder who worked hard to come in second in the national open selection trials held by the Sports Authority of India for the Deaflympics and secure his place on the team. It was a moment of immense pride for him as it was his first opportunity to carry the national flag on foreign shores.

Born in Kolkata, Mr Mazumder was hearing impaired from birth, and started playing table tennis at the age of five, on his doctor’s recommendation. He had strong eyesight and the doctor believed that table tennis was one sport where Mr Mazumder’s use of a hearing aid would not come in the way. “I also took up sports because I wanted to follow my father, who was a football player,” says Mr Mazumder. “He is my role model and my strength.” 

A young Srijit Mazumder (centre) with his table tennis coach and teammates

“Initially, communication was a big challenge for me,” says Mr Mazumder. “I went to a normal school because my doctor said I could do everything with my hearing aid. But when I started going to school, I could not understand anything at first.” So, his mother underwent extensive teacher training to help him. “My mother is my first teacher. She taught my everything, from concepts to learning how to write,” he says. Mr Mazumder also underwent speech therapy and “with regular practice and my parents’ help, I overcame the difficulties.”

Communicating with people with hearing loss

“Successful communication requires the efforts of all people involved,” says Mr Mazumder. “Say the person’s name when you start talking to them and make sure you have their attention. Maintain eye contact while talking and speak clearly, slowly, distinctly, but naturally, without shouting or exaggerating your lip movements. Shouting distorts the sound and can make speech reading more difficult. If you are speaking through an interpreter, talk directly to the person you are conversing with, not the interpreter.” 

Mr Mazumder continued to play table tennis competitively throughout his school years and made his breakthrough in the national table tennis circuit at the age of 11. He won first place in the sub junior boys doubles at the 2003 National Deaf Table Tennis Championship, held in Mysore, Karnataka. Since then, he has gone on to win numerous state and national-level accolades. “What keeps me going is the knowledge that my hard work and perseverance will lead me towards success,” says Mr Mazumder.

After losing his father in 2007, Mr Mazumder took a hiatus from the game to focus on his studies and support his mother through the difficult time. On his mother’s insistence, he started training again after a few years. His hard work paid off and he made a comeback in the 2017 nationals, winning third place in the men’s doubles and fourth place in the men’s singles category. The next few years were spent on enhancing his fitness levels and playing technique so that he could improve his ranking, and he finally qualified for the Deaflympics in 2022. Speed and agility are key to being a good table tennis player, and Mr Mazumder maintains his fitness levels through regular workouts, yoga, and a balanced diet.

A passion for design

His curiosity in computers led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer administration, and then web designing as a profession. “My love for computers started when I was young. My father worked for a Japanese company and that is where I first saw a computer. I learned how to use one quickly and it helped that I could draw very well,” he says. After securing a job as a web developer at TCS in Bangalore 2019, there has been no looking back. “The entire ecosystem at TCS is extremely inclusive and enabling. My managers and colleagues help in every possible way; helping me overcome challenges and remain positive in my approach,” says Mr Mazumder.

Road to inclusion

“I have faced challenges for most of my life and have overcome them with support from my ecosystem,” says Mr Mazumder. “Society needs to help create equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Some disabilities are invisible, and others may appear subtle; so never assume. Create opportunities for children with and without disabilities to interact with each other so that they learn to respect the differences.”

When it comes to promoting sports among the youth, he believes that availability of good infrastructure, equipment and coaching is key. “Increase the number of sports facilities. Make it a rule that every educational institution must have a playground. Also increase the accessibility and quality of the existing infrastructure and equipment.” 

—Arushi Agrawal

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