Volume 6 Issue 5 - August 15, 2009
“Our only motivation was to stop Kapil Sibal from committing a horrible wrong,” Javed Abidi
He is a name that has become synonymous with persistent face offs with the Government. Vociferous in his criticism of piecemeal efforts and lack of sensitivity, he has been at the receiving end of many a digs. The recent Right to Education Bill was one such incident. In a candid interview, Javed Abidi talks to Dorodi Sharma of D.N.I.S. on his take on the protest, how he feels to be the ‘fall guy’ and the ‘motivation’ that drives him to do what he does!
D.N.I.S.: When did you come to know that disability was not included in the Right to Education Bill?
Javed Abidi: Vandana Bedi and Radhika Alkazi called me about 4-5 days to a week before the Right to Education Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha. As we all are aware, it had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha by then.
D.N.I.S.: You were a member of C.A.B.E. and even then you were not aware of this omission?
Javed Abidi: C.A.B.E. was committed to the issue of disability. I guess that’s why Arjun Singh went out of his way to ensure that I was made a Member of C.A.B.E. When the Bill was drafted in 2005, the issue of disability was well covered. As late as until 2008, the draft was absolutely fine. It is then, at the last minute, that apparently the Bill underwent changes. In the Bill that got tabled in the Rajya Sabha just before the General Elections, the issue of disability had been diluted. And obviously, people like me, Mithu Alur, Radhika and Vandana did not catch that omission.
D.N.I.S.: You were more or less the face of the protest, atleast with the media. You also somehow became the ‘fall guy’ for the Ministry. In retrospect how do you analyse your role in the protest?
Javed Abidi: I have always been the ‘fall guy’! I have gotten used to it. Not that I enjoy that role. Infact, at most times, I am deeply hurt but my overall attitude is that if it is good for the sector, especially for the future generations of disabled people, then it is okay. I will take the punches, chin up!
D.N.I.S.: Where do you think the sector went wrong?
Javed Abidi: The sector, especially its so - called leadership, went terribly wrong. We were not vigilant. We should have kept a close watch on the Bill, every step of the way. We did not. We failed to that extent for sure.
D.N.I.S.: The H.R.D. Ministry said that the protest was motivated. What is your reaction?
Javed Abidi: And what was that motivation? That people like me and Radhika Alkazi and Vandana Bedi and scores of others were hiding our khaki knickers; and that we belonged to the R.S.S. and we were working as agents of Opposition, i.e. the B.J.P.?!
Is Kapil Sibal not aware that on Mrs. (Sonia) Gandhi’s one request, I left a brilliant career as a journalist and joined the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation way back in 1992, when the opportunists were still thinking whether she had a political future or not?! Is the H.R.D. Ministry so ignorant that they don’t know the firm views of not only Mrs. Gandhi, but Dr. Manmohan Singh as well vis - a - vis Inclusive Education?! Views clearly reflected in Arjun Singh’s categoric commitment to the Parliament when he presented the ‘Action Plan for the Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities’ and declared that all schools, colleges and universities will be made disabled - friendly by 2020.
Indeed, we had motivation. And that motivation was to stop Kapil Sibal from committing a horrible wrong! And I am glad we succeeded.
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