C.L.A.W Operation Blue Freedom

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C.L.A.W Operation Blue Freedom
FormationJune 2019; 3 years ago (2019-06)
FounderCLAW Global
TypeNon-profit
PurposeHighlight and mainstream the 'Abilities' of People with Disabilities
HeadquartersDelhi
Location
  • India
Key people
Major Vivek Jacob

C.L.A.W Operation Blue Freedom Foundation, an Indian non-profit, was launched by CLAW Global[1], a team of former Special Forces Operatives of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy, in June 2019. Operation Blue Freedom is a global mission to highlight and mainstream the 'Abilities' of People with Disabilities. Operation Blue Freedom has carried out India-wide adaptive scuba diving programmes[2], flagged off by Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, for people with disabilities, free of cost. Currently the team is establishing a Triple Elemental World Record in adaptive adventure sports with People of Disabilities around the globe[3].

Origin of operation blue freedom

Operation Blue Freedom is led by Major Vivek Jacob[4], a veteran Special Forces officer of the Indian Army and founder of CLAW Global. He spent 14 years as an elite para commando where he honed his expertise in military forms of scuba diving, sky diving and high-altitude mountaineering for efficiency in combat. His perception of what it meant to be ‘free’ began to evolve during his special operation missions.

In 2015, Major Jacob went through a near-death experience when his parachute malfunctioned mid-fall during a Combat Skydive, causing spinal cord injuries. While recovering at a military hospital, he formed a close bond with an Indian Airforce officer, Flight Lieutenant Bhaduria, who was permanently paralysed in a freak accident and had spent the past four years in the hospital in a wheelchair. When Flt Lt Bhaduria expressed his desire to SCUBA Dive, despite being paralysed waist down; It inspired Major Jacob to explore a whole new world of adaptive adventure sports and it's potential to change the narrative around disabilities.

In Jan 2019, his vision was brought to life through Special Forces Adventures (which was rechristened as C.L.A.W Global in Jan 2020)[5] [6], with a focus to design and implement large-scale employment solutions for people with disabilities and the underprivileged, also with great consideration to environmental conservation and ecologically sustainable solutions. Subsequently, Team CLAW partnered the War Wounded Foundation, United Services Institution of India (USI), Lakshadweep Administration and India’s Tourism Ministry, Sports Ministry and Social Justice Ministry to strengthen their efforts. Team CLAW’S Scuba Diving instructors cross-trained with the Handicapped SCUBA Association - USA, thereby furthering their expertise in training people with disabilities.

‘Operation Blue Freedom’ brings together People with Disabilities and Special Forces in action - To drive inner transformation, induce global action for inclusion and advocate the concept of freedom for one and all. It aims to mainstream the mindset of that Special Forces and People with disabilities share i.e to - ‘Survive, Stabilize and Thrive’ in hostile environments. [7]

Significance of the nomenclature

  • C.L.A.W stands for Conquering Land, Air, Water.
  • Operation signifies the Special Forces Military background, It spells out the team’s approach and attitude at the mission at hand
  • Blue signifies Earth, Our home
  • Freedom stands for the journey to pure freedom for all - all human beings and the other species of life on Earth

Expeditions & accolades

The team traveled across India to train more than a hundred people with disabilities, including the people paralysed neck-down due to spinal cord injuries[8] [9]. The first leg of the journey in open seas culminated with the Team taking a select group of students for their first open sea dives at the Lakshadweep Islands, India. People on wheelchairs, who were bound by the chains of gravity on land, were now free - in water[10]. For the first time in India, people with disabilities were trained in SCUBA Diving by instructors with disabilities, showcasing true inclusion and employability focused on ability rather than disability.

On 22nd Aug 2019, the Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and football legend Bhaichung Bhutia flagged off the Delhi leg of Operation Blue Freedom as they scuba dived with Team CLAW in a confined water pool, during a training session with nine disabled participants.[11][12]. During one of their initial workshops in Chandigarh, Operation Blue Freedom conducted scuba diving camps for both people with disabilities and the able-bodied to send a message of inclusivity and mainstreaming of the sport for the people with disabilities.

The Delhi chapter of Operation Blue Freedom has been featured on a popular Indian television show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), featuring participant Navin Gulia, a National Award winner and an inspirational role model in a wheelchair. He shared his SCUBA diving experience with Operation Blue Freedom on the show’s 11th season and 15th episode on 6th Sep 2019.[13]

On 5th Oct 2019, ADEX, The Asian Diving Expo at Mumbai, acknowledged Operation Blue Freedom pioneering efforts in using SCUBA diving to mainstream people with disabilities and featured Team CLAW at the International Diving Expo.[14] The following day, on 6th Oct 2019, Operation Blue Freedom crossed another milestone by training 30 people with disabilities at an indoor facility in Mumbai, India.

On 15th Nov 2019, the TiE Global, a Silicon Valley non-profit, felicitated Team CLAW for the most innovative solutions in employment generation for People of Determination at its Global Summit 2019, in Delhi.

On 21st July 2020, the Novus X Impact Global, a summit championing the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, featured the founder, Major Vivek Jacob, as he spoke about mainstreaming perception change towards people with disabilities through the application of Special Forces mindset. He shared the platform with Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell and adaptive bodybuilder & popular social media influencer Nick Santonastasso and presenter and the host, Kunal Sood[15][16]. Major Jacob also announced Operation Blue Freedom’s upcoming global project to establish a Triple Elemental World Record in adaptive adventure sports with People of Disabilities, at the summit.

C.L.A.W Operation Blue Freedom Triple World Record

The Triple Elemental World record is being executed by a diverse team of former Special Forces soldiers, people with disabilities (PWDs) and civilian specialists across nationalities, religion,race and gender distinctions; wherein, the PwDs would be trained to ‘Conquer’ all three elements - Mountaineering (Land element), Sky Diving (Air element), and Scuba Diving (Water element) by Team CLAW’s former Special Forces instructors. The event is aimed to trigger a perception change towards PwDs in society and campaign for an inclusive ecosystem, by showcasing their abilities rather than focusing on their disabilities. The event would be filmed by a set of filmmakers with disabilities and those who specialise in adaptive adventure sports and would be showcased at global media platforms and international film festivals.

In the media

     

References

  1. "Brut India". 7 June 2020.
  2. "The Quint". 21 August 2019.
  3. "Outlook India". 5 May 2020.
  4. "Outlook India Traveller". 3 May 2020.
  5. "The Statesman". 9 March 2019.
  6. "The Hindu". 28 March 2019.
  7. "The Statesman". 9 March 2019.
  8. "Business Standard". 21 August 2019.
  9. "Zee news". 21 August 2019.
  10. "Brut India". 6 July 2020.
  11. "News18". 21 August 2019.
  12. "Asian Age". 23 August 2019.
  13. "Indian Express". 4 October 2019.
  14. "Adex Asia".
  15. "EIN news". 20 July 2020.
  16. "Republic World". 21 July 2020.

External links

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