AIR spotlight summary on “Building a Divyang friendly society”.
Disabled are now addressed as Divyang instead of Viklang. The modern civilization is based on caring for others who are underprivileged or disadvantaged. Karl Popper has said man has done wonderful things; have reached moon and now going to Mars; in medicine the longevity has increased; Many achievements in art and culture; every decade the civilization is advancing. Popper argues that is not the right indication of civilization. The indication of civilization is how we take care of Disabled, the underprivileged and the divyang.
Disability in modern times
- The concern is manifested in modern times. In ancient and medieval time they were segregated and we’re not treated as human beings. With the progress of civilization and larger awareness we find the things are changing.
- There is 3% reservation in government jobs. There is awareness that Disabled should not be disadvantaged in a way that they can get into library, hospitals and all places.
- Whatever has been done till now is very minimal looking at the magnitude of the problem. Distribution of hearing aid and tricycle is in right direction. The idea is to create awareness that such people should not be neglected and this is called social democracy which is inclusive and where none should be left out.
- It gives an impetus and framework on the basis of which the policies can be initiated and also the civil society initiatives can be expected.
Aspects of Disability
- There are two aspects of disability. One is physical disability that is the mobility is restricted and the other is mental retardation. We need to differentiate between the two. Dealing with mental retardation is much harder than dealing with physical disability.
- Normally the people with physical disability are taken better care where there are better facilities in urban areas compared to rural areas. Reading material for the blind can change the situation all together.
- Florence Nightingale carried out pioneering work during the Crimean War (1853-1856) to improve the care of sick and wounded soldiers.In India also there are many stalwarts like Satish Gujral and c Dey the uncle of manna Dey.
- In our country the magnitude of unemployment and deprivation is so large that we often forget the disabled category.The important point is that the society outlook must change.
- So there are precedents in India and there are many Institutes which take care of them but it has not become a social movement.
- Unless there is larger participation of people and awareness to do something for the disabled we cannot achieve desirable results. Fortunately the media is active. If prime minister is talking about it then there is a spill over effect which will lead to positive results.
- Larger integration can be done provided we are aware of the special needs and create a larger arena of acceptability.
Change in the aspect of Disability
- The disability which was ignored earlier is now getting social attention.
2011 census shows 2.2% of Indian population was disabled. Men comprised 2.74% and women 2.01%. It is higher in rural areas with 2.24% and urban it was 2.17%
It is higher than 2001 because the categories have increased.
Need of the Hour
- Skilling them to make them employable to lead a dignified life is an important aspect. Compared to East Asian nations our skilled man power is much less and this is one of the reasons for relative industrial backwardness.
- There have been efforts both in religious organizations and cultural society. Unless the state motivates and guides which is the Khilnani’s idea of India and unless the state projects and initiates we cannot tackle the enormity of the problem.
- There is a need to create confidence in these people that they can do wonders and disability should not be treated as disadvantageous.
- Indian’s performed very well in Para Olympics compared to general Olympics which is very good sign that we can achieve it in any area. The emphasis should be on proper training and guidance and special skills can be developed in all the disadvantaged and they can be trained taking note of their disability.
- Accessibility is one issue which needs to be dealt with. We have accessibility in urban areas. There is a major campaign going that is the Accessible India campaign.
- The important question is dignity. People should not be left out and should not be humiliated because of disability.
- Fighting mindset is one challenge. What really matters is the attitude of people.
There should be a larger concern for the most unfortunate people who will be talented but because of their disability may not be contributing to society and for one’s own development.
- Important concern should be specialized schools and Training Institutes. The ITI’s in India for providing the necessary skills is very stereotype. We have not modelled in the way the developed countries have done like South Korea which have extensive programs and plans for disabled. We can learn from them and create a new kind of consciousness.
- Having separate Schools for disabled is not an answer. We should be able to integrate these children with mainstream schools and higher education institutions. Not only skilled teachers we need compassionate teachers.
- We can learn from religious leaders like mother Teresa; Swami Vivekananda who coined the phrase Daridra Narayan.
- Access to education is a must. The modern civilization is based on education. It is an imperative that Disabled should get proper education.
- There is a sociological factor where they themselves do not come up and participate because the society is not conducive to their presence. That’s what we have to change. It needs sociological cultural change and a larger societal initiative to overcome it.