Every year the third day of December - World Disabled Day - gives me pain for being called a disable. But next day I throw away my pain to keep myself motivated and focussed, and believe that I should not rest until my good becomes better, and better the best.
Because I am grown up now and with the support and motivation of my family, my friends and few inspiring people, I was able to conquer my difficulties and challenges. But when thinking about the disabled people’s population around, I feel very disappointed about their fate.
Being visually impaired by birth and then right from my home schooling to NIVH Dehradhun for secondary education, and a degree in Law from Kashmir University, and Masters in Law from Rajiv Gandhi National Law University, the journey was full hurdles all around.
Presently working on a fellowship programme of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), New Delhi, where among hundreds of students from disabled community throughout India only 28 students were selected on the basis of their topicality and type of theme.
Of course my more than two-decades long experience and imagination about the disabled persons around pushes me for a duty to attend for my society, and to press the red button vis-à-vis to address to the problems and issues faced by the disabled community more particularly in J&K.
One thing is sure that leaving all other disabilities aside, J&K has got highest blind prevalence ratio in India. One reason being that inter-relation marriages are preferred, which in medical science has proved a reason for more possibility of disability. Other factors could be lack of proper dieting during pregnancy, no proper vaccination for newly born children and scarcity of medical facilities in the hilly region.
Unfortunately in our society, any kind of disability in a child means no scope for future. The case is actually reverse because these people can do wonders if taken care of. If well supported by the family, the society and the concerned government authorities.
While disability correlates with disadvantage, not all people with disabilities are equally disadvantaged. Much depends on the context in which they live, and whether they have equal access to health, education and employment, among others.
Today, the world population is over 7 billion people and more than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.The theme for IDPD this year is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
The present theme in our society is far from our reach and beyond our current scenario because when we can’t provide special and inclusive education to the community, their abilities can’t be discovered, their participation cannot be expected. The basic responsibility lies on the parents of these children and they primarily need knowledge as how to bring-up such disabled children and how to motivate them. I believe motivation in parenting a specially-abled child is more important than the growth and development of a specially-abled child itself. Second most important thing in overcoming the related issues and social stigma is the confidence needed by both child and the parent. Nowadays mobile and electronic gadgets are very disabled-friendly and are enough to bring confidence in educating the disable class, particularly the visually impaired.
COVID-19 has resulted in further disadvantage and increased vulnerability for many persons with disabilities due to barriers in health and social sectors, including discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible infrastructure. Building back better requires persons with disabilities to be central to health sector decision making, to ensure barriers are addressed in an inclusive and timely way. I am surprised as how come a COVID-19 protocol distance could be maintained with a disable person when he or she could be in need of hand-hold support? Disability inclusion in the health sector is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do, as it directly contributes to the achievement of broader global and national health priorities.
Again coming to my society in J&K, here schools are asking a disable student to arrange scribe/ writer of their own? A student studying in one reputed private school in the valley was asked to arrange his own writer for his exams. The student was clueless to find a writer for himself and so his father faced a difficult situation. Similarly most of the students in schools, colleges and universities are not in support to provide a writer to such students which results in demotivating them. These educational institutions don’t follow the actual guidelines and nobody takes note of it. Again, here hardly any institution or a government department follows the Supreme Court ruling for such employees who are care-takers for any disable child.
A big concern for such visually impaired graduates who want to apply for a bank job is that while all the public sector and nationalised banks in India, while making advertisement for recruitment of different posts do have reservation of various categories including PWD (persons with disabilities) but never have different selection or examination style or process for these persons. Astonishing, that a visually impaired candidate has to appear in the same exam which includes test of reasoning, numerical aptitude and quantitative aptitude which are visual based or arithmetic based. The whole system seems discriminatory. There seems lack of imagination in the policy making.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.