A story of grit and absolute determination. A story of pure inspiration, the life of Dr. Malvika Iyer.

How would our life be if we do not let our constraints control our life? It would definitely be like this story. A story of grit and absolute determination. A story of pure inspiration, the life of Dr. Malvika Iyer.


On 26th May 2002, a 13-year-old girl who was just spending her summer vacation in Bikaner, Rajasthan had accidentally picked up a grenade from her garage and took it inside their home. As soon as she pressed it, the grenade exploded and within minutes, Malvika’s life changed. She lost both her hands and doctors told that her left leg had to be amputated because of severe injury.


Eighteen months after her surgery, her biggest goal was to be able to walk and climb a staircase. Her family’s support, especially her mother’s, in her words, was imperative to her being where she is today. She was determined to not waste a year and so, joined a private school and studied for four months to appear for her tenth board exams.

The results were overwhelming. She topped the state. That’s when she decided to never look back and to do something meaningful with her life. She finished her Masters in Social Work and later her Ph.D. in Disability, Inclusion and Discriminatory Attitude towards the Disabled.


This was the point when she was thinking about what to do next, how to make an impact. A discussion with her mother on this eventually became the first step to her stupendous journey. From merely picking herself up after her accident, her mother made her see that she had the ability to motivate and inspire other people to do better and to never give up. In her words, her definition of success “was to influence someone’s life in a positive way”.


Her first speech was a TEDx talk in 2013 on inclusion. The talk received an overwhelming response from thousands of people. This made her realize why the accident had happened to her. She realized this was what she was meant to do. And now, it was a responsibility to be able to motivate people. The messages that she received, like “I did not give up because of you”, “If you can do it, so can I”, make this the most fulfilling job one can ever do according to her.


Every day is different for all of us. But, only for a few people is every day an adventure. Dr. Malvika is among those few. Her work on the discriminatory attitude of young people towards disability has taken her places. She has received many honors and accolades for her work and continues to do so. In 2018 she has received the Nari Shakti Puraskar award from the President of India, which is the highest civilian honor for a woman in the country. Her story is an example of how people driven by passion can achieve the greatest of heights.


Her story is not devoid of challenges. But, her challenges are not what makes this story powerful. It is her sheer courage and exemplary attitude to not give up which makes this story beautiful and powerful. In her mother’s words, the biggest achievement Malvika has is her willpower and her determination to come out of her trauma. Her journey celebrates her spirit – fearless and powerful.


Over the years, she has been working as a disability activist, social worker, and a change maker as she focuses on projects like the “accessible fashion”. She loves gardening, reading, photography, and modeling. She likes to be independent and does all the household chores by herself too. There are days when her body is not as strong as her mind. Despite those days, she chooses to never give up on something so special as this life.


Her message to the young generation is first that do not give up on challenges. Our life is special to us. We are the curators who design it in a way that is fulfilling and meaningful to us. Every one of us has to have a sense of responsibility to want to contribute towards society.


Secondly, we have to stop that constant urge to compare our life with others lives. It leads to a vicious cycle of blaming. She says that even with all that was going on in her life, her mother never once compared her even with her own sister. She just let her be.


Lastly, she says, “Live your best life and be authentic”. Learn to be content and celebrate every progress.


Dr. Malvika Iyer is more than just a disabled person. She is an inspiration, a beacon of hope to many and above all, she teaches us inclusion in its best way. As she reads a letter from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to her in her TEDx talk about the disabled, “We are all God’s children. Our minds are stronger than diamonds. If God is with us, who can be against us?” It is hard to disagree that determination can make you stronger than you think you are, willpower can make you better than you are and your attitude to never give up can make you vastly more successful than you think you can be.


She plans to pen her experiences into her autobiography some day. We all look forward to reading about her account of her life and experiences from her own point of view, to encourage, motivate and inspire us.

Dr. Malvika Iyer answering some of our questions

About how she picked up herself and also why she felt a need to motivate and encourage others.  What drove you to think of others and work for them, rather than just for herself?


About her will power and self-determination.


Her future plans


About telling her story in an autobiography


Her message to the young generation