Mocking the Disabled

Mocking the Disabled 

Inclusion, Representation and Participation – An Obstacle Course

According to Census 2011 people with disability (PwD) number around 2.68 crore i.e., 2.2% of the total population, seriously handicapped, unable to access infrastructure facilities on an equal basis. 

We at NAYA RASTA leave it to the reader to judge the truth in the above figures; the population of persons living with disability is 5% in China, 5% in Nepal and 4.9% in Pakistan. In the most developed countries it is 18% in Australia, 14.2% in the United Kingdom and 9% in the United States. WHO reports state that 10% of the entire world population lives with disability (650 million) and that there are more people living with disability in India than in any other country.

According to NAYA RASTA -  with-holding of crucial facts successfully buries the challenge.

The Right to participate in public life is essential to create democracies and citizenship.  Yet, this fundamental right is totally denied to the PwD because a disability friendly environment just does not exist in India.

The Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan (Accessible India Campaign), in 2015 – served to build some hope and expectation among the challenged.

In his maiden speech as prime minister, the Hon’ble Shri Narender Modi said. “Matdan se pehle hum ummeedwar the, matdan ke baad hum ummeedon ke rakhwale hain. Hum ummeedon ke doot hain. Sawa sau crore deshwasiyon ke ummeedon ko pura karne ka hum prayas karein ,”

For NAYA RASTA, the disappointing part was the lack of commitment evident in the vague promises of what MAY BE achieved! The focus issue is on the challenged and does not compound the challenges faced by 1250 million Indians

The feeling was palpable among all those working with challenged people. Children with disabilities, persons with disabilities, their family members and, their care givers, in keeping with the Indian psyche, placed all their hopes on the promises of the Honourable Prime minister for his proclamation Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikas. Hearts bled - overflowed with love; no one else had spoken this language, their language before. The proclamation was followed by another on August 15, 2016

In his message he saluted the indomitable spirit of those with disability and urged the people to work together to create a better world for them.  “Let us all work together to create a world where the PwD (renaming them Divyang), can scale new heights of success without obstacles.” On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, he saluted persons with disabilities and hailed them as “heroes”.  Today is a day to pledge our commitment towards our unwavering support to the PwD and ensuring equal opportunities to them.

The prime minister convinced everyone on World Disability Day that the challenges faced by the PwD stating that this was his priority programme and distributed prosthetics, aids, appliances and scooters conveying a message and assurance of concern and involvement.

Challenged citizens of India were now elevated to the status of being Divinity in flesh and blood capable of achieving the impossible. For us at Anchal, this was not to our liking, definitely in bad taste verging upon being a mockery of a very deprived social segment. Why??

In view of the revised list of 21 identified conditions of disability, it occurred to most of us working with disability as to the budget allocation for such an ambitious programme – a programme which would be tough to deliver even with a 500% increase in the budget allocation which, was not possible or realistic.

The world’s best architects and town planners had overlooked the issue of inclusion of PwD in any of their structures in India including railway stations, bus stations and even the Metro Rail Delhi which is of international standards developed in the third millennium is totally and absolutely not inclusive in this regard. What do we plan to do? Start by breaking-up our Metro Stations, Railway infrastructure/bus stations? And what will all this cost us? What is the time factor?

How do we build disability friendly toilets in schools, colleges, hospitals, government buildings and bus/railway stations? Where are the funds?

We will not raise the issue of the cost involved in making all our government buildings, school and college structures disability friendly according to specified international standards – the fact remains – we do not have the funds to inculcate these changes because institutional corruption will claim its pound of flesh.

Enforcing inclusion and representation at every level and a legislation that will enforce its application with arbitrary deprivation of the erring officers job security, pension and other benefits has not been discussed. Why is this necessary?? Without inclusion and representation nothing can be achieved and, the disabled are not represented in any parliament or, legislative body.

This single act of exclusion not by chance but by design, has effectively served to deprive and render vulnerable simply through lack/deficiency in the ability to ‘access’ frustrates the best, challenged or otherwise.

Renu Singh
Chairperson /Managing Trustee


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