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Malvika Iyer

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Malvika Iyer
Malvika Iyer at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City during the Youth Forum at the 61st session on Commission on the Status of Women in March 2017.
Born18 February 1989[1]
Alma mater
Known forMotivational speaking, Disability rights activism

Malvika (born 18 February 1989) is an Indian national, a bilateral amputee from a self bomb blast from a grenade, a social worker,[2][3][4] and a National Awardee.[5][6] She is an international motivational speaker[7][8][9] and a disability rights activist,[3][10][11][12] advocating for building an inclusive society.[13][14][15] She is also a model for accessible fashion.[16][17][18] Malvika obtained her Doctorate in Social Work from Madras School of Social Work in 2017.[19][20] Her doctoral thesis is on the stigmatization of people with disabilities.[11][21][22]

Early life and injury[edit]

Malvika was born on 18 February 1989 in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu[23] to B. Krishnan and Hema Krishnan.[24][25] She grew up in Bikaner, Rajasthan, where her father worked as an engineer at the Water Works Department.[25] On 26 May 2002, at the age of 13, Malvika lost both her hands when she picked up a grenade that accidentally exploded in her hands at her home in Bikaner[3][26][27] and sustained severe injuries to her legs including multiple fractures, nerve paralysis and hypoesthesia.[28] After 18 months of hospitalization (involving multiple surgeries) in Chennai, Malvika began to walk with the aid of crutches and was fitted with prosthetic hands.[28]


Following her hospitalization, Malvika appeared as a private candidate in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination in Chennai.[25] Writing the exam with the help of a scribe,[25] she secured a state rank among the private candidates.[23] This gained public attention.[11] Malvika was invited to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by the then President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.[23]

Malvika moved to New Delhi, where she studied Economics (Honors) at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, followed by a Master's in Social Work at the Delhi School of Social Work.[28] She did her M.Phil in Social Work[16] at the Madras School of Social Work, where she secured first class with distinction and won the ‘Rolling Cup’ for the Best M.Phil. Thesis in 2012.[29]

Speaking career and activism[edit]

Malvika was invited to speak at the TEDxYouth@Chennai in 2013.[30][31] She has described this experience as the start of her career as a motivational speaker.[4][23] Malvika followed this up with speeches at United Nations in New York City,[3][11] IIM Kozhikode,[32][33] Norway,[34] Indonesia[35] South Africa[36] and Singapore[37] where she highlighted the importance of inclusion. Through her motivational talks and sensitization workshops in schools, colleges, private establishments, Non-governmental Organizations and youth forums, Malvika has tried to raise awareness about the need for universal design, accessible public spaces[21][4][38] and participation of disabled youth in promoting inclusive elections.[35] She has also worked towards creating awareness on a positive body image.[15][39] She hosted the India Inclusion Summit in 2013.[40] An advocate for accessible fashion, Malvika walked the ramp as a showstopper for NIFT and Ability Foundation in Chennai where she emphasized the need for designing clothes with functionality and style for people with disability.[41][42] In 2014, she was selected as a Global Shaper to the Chennai Hub of the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum.[4][38][43] She joined the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development's Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality and in March 2017 she was invited to deliver a speech at the United Nations in New York.[3][11][44][45] In October 2017, she was invited to Co-Chair the World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit held at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi.[7][22][46][47]


Dr. Malvika receiving the Nari Shakti Puraskar, the Highest Civilian Honor for Women for outstanding contribution to women's empowerment from the Honorable President of India Ram Nath Kovind on 8 March 2018 on the occasion of International Women's Day.

Malvika received the Nari Shakti Puraskar, the Highest Civilian Honor for Women for outstanding contribution to women's empowerment from the Honorable President of India Ram Nath Kovind on 8 March 2018 on the occasion of International Women's Day.[48][49] On 8 March 2020, she was selected by the Honorable Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to take over his social media accounts.[50][51][52] She is the recipient of the first Women in the World Emerging Leaders Award in New York in 2016.[16][21][53] She was recognized as one of the 100 Change Agents and Newsmakers of the Decade by Deccan Chronicle in 2015.[11]


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  2. ^ Krupa, Lakshmi (15 April 2014). "How birds of a feather found followers". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e "From where I stand: "Being a person with disability is challenging. Being a woman with disability adds extra challenges"". UN Women. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Thomas, Mini P (6 November 2016). "Able to inspire". The WEEK. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
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  6. ^ Menon, Priya (15 April 2018). "Sketching a fighter's tale". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b Benu, Parvathi (11 September 2017). "Your daily dose of inspiration: After losing her hands at the age of 13, Malvika is now a world famous motivational speaker". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  8. ^ Menon, Priya (2 August 2015). "Live life king size". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  9. ^ Reddy, Gayatri (20 September 2015). "Against life's greatest odds". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  10. ^ "'It's unfair to students'". The Hindu. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
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  12. ^ World Economic Forum (9 October 2017), A Bilateral Amputee Offers a Lesson on Resilience, retrieved 11 November 2017
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  16. ^ a b c Bijur, Anupama (6 May 2016). "Looking beyond limitations". Femina. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
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  19. ^ Thomas, Mini P (20 December 2017). "'I was horrified by the way people looked at me'". THE WEEK. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Meet Malvika, the PhD scholar and Disability Rights Activist whose photo everyone's sharing". InUth. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  21. ^ a b c Menon, Priya (16 April 2016). "She makes a difference with her grit". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
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  24. ^ Koshy, Tessy (27 July 2015). "'I'm glad both my hands were blown off'". Friday. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  25. ^ a b c d Bhattacharya, Saptarshi (28 May 2004). "Where there is a will there is a way". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 April 2017.[dead link]
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  28. ^ a b c "An IYER for the differently-able". Deccan Chronicle. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  29. ^ Menon, Sudha; Ferose, V.R. (2014). Gifted : Inspiring Stories of People with Disabilities. India: Random House India. p. 156. ISBN 9788184005455.
  30. ^ "Inclusion starts from within: Malvika at TEDxYouth@Chennai". YouTube. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  31. ^ Chandrababu, Divya; Ipel, Ann. "TEDx Youth@Chennai: Tales of struggle and creativity inspire city youth - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  32. ^ "The only Disability in life is a bad attitude | Malvika | TEDxIIMKozhikode". YouTube. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  33. ^ "'Backwaters' on IIM-K campus from Friday". The Hindu. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  34. ^ "Bærekraftfestivalen". Hurdal Økolandsby. 24 May 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  35. ^ a b "Plenary 6 on the 3rd AGENDA Regional Dialogue on Access to Elections". AGENDA. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  36. ^ "2014 INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY WEEK" (PDF). CIVICUS. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  37. ^ Tan, Theresa (17 October 2018). "Only disability in life is a bad attitude, says Indian activist and motivational speaker Malvika". The Straits Times. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  38. ^ a b Vasudevan, Shilpa Kappur (9 March 2015). "Making lemonade out of the lemons life threw at her". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  39. ^ Dupere, Katie (17 February 2017). "People with disabilities destroy stigma on Twitter with #DisabledAndCute". Mashable. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  40. ^ Ray, Aparajita; Prasher, Garima (30 November 2013). "Summit helps disabled persons help themselves - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  41. ^ "Include, in style". The Hindu. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  42. ^ Madhavan, Nila (4 August 2015). ""I'm Glad This Accident Happened". Meet Malvika". Fuelling Dreams. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  43. ^ "She rose like the phoenix". Red Elephant Foundation. 11 September 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  44. ^ "Closing session Launch of CEDAW for Youth, Youth Forum (CSW 61)". UN Web TV. 11 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
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  47. ^ Kithsiri, Indira (2 October 2017). "What worries South Asia's young people, and what they're doing about it". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
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  49. ^ "International Women's Day: President Kovind honours 39 achievers with 'Nari Shakti Puraskar'". The New Indian Express. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  50. ^ "Bomb-blast survivor Malvika tweets message of courage on Narendra Modi's Twitter handle". The New Indian Express. 8 March 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  51. ^ "Who is Malvika, one of the women handling PM Modi's Twitter handle?". Deccan Chronicle. 8 March 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  52. ^ "#SheInspiresUs | The seven women handling PM Narendra Modi's social media accounts". The Hindu. PTI. 8 March 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  53. ^ "Meet Women in the World's Emerging Leaders". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - WITW. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2017.

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