Volume 5 Issue 3 - February 01, 2007
The Invisible Minority
The Times of
Conservative estimates suggest
that 5-6 per cent of
The disabled citizens of
In the 60th year of
A lot of people, including Hon’ble Chief Minister, are under the impression that Delhi Metro is disabled-friendly. Tragically, the truth is very different. There is no doubt any more that even a futuristic project like the Delhi Metro lost its way after all the tall promises, decided to cut corners and as a result, a lot of its entrances and exits are not barrier-free.
Easy, accessible and economical public transportation is the key of any person’s freedom of movement. More so in the case of disabled people. If they can’t even venture out of their homes, if they can’t travel from one point in the city to the other point, effectively they are rendered ‘handicapped’. That is why in the disability movement, we often say that it is not our disability that handicaps us but the environment around us that is handicapping.
Next to transportation, it is the
built environment which imprisons a disabled person and stereotypes him as a
‘helpless’ human being! In 1989, I cast my vote in favour
of my Nation by deciding to leave behind the so-called comforts of an American
city, and by coming to
It is not just the avenues of pleasure that are inaccessible. Education is equally inaccessible too. Only those who are minimally disabled are able to access education; others either don’t gather enough courage or give up mid-way. As I write this article, there is a brilliant wheelchair girl who was earlier denied hostel accommodation at the prestigious Symbiosis Law College in Pune and who is now having to live in a private rental set-up because the hostel of her college in the Delhi University is also not disabled-friendly. The Rs. 15,000/- per month expenditure that she and her family are having to bear is like a punishment tax imposed upon her by this Nation for having been born disabled.
Without education and access, one can’t even think of employment or empowerment or rehabilitation. Millions of our disabled citizens have their fate caged in the present scenario. Laws and policies are there but only on paper. Promises have been made several times over, but not yet fulfilled. Firm political will is missing. Some say that it is so because we are not considered to be ‘vote bank’. Others say that our protests are not loud enough.
There is a very serious discourse in the disabled community that we should now escalate our Movement. Some argue we should break a few window panes and burn one or two buses. That may get our cause the desired attention! I personally think that if that were to happen, it would be a rather sad day in the history of this 60-year-old Nation.
Being old is not good enough. The Nation must also mature. And an expected good sign of that ‘maturity’ would be to not just cater to certain minorities because they happen to be vote banks, but to look after all those who are truly marginalised.
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