D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Indian disability sector suffered a huge loss with the passing away of D.M. Naidu on March 15 in Bengaluru following a brief illness for which he was hospitalised. Known for his soft spoken nature and commitment to disability, his demise has left a huge vacuum. Naidu had been involved with the disability sector in various capacities for a long time and was instrumental in the setting up of Basic Needs India and was associated with it till his demise. Naidu was a firm believer in community based health care and rehabilitation of people with disabilities, especially people with psychosocial disabilities. Messages poured in from everywhere as the news of his demise spread. Abdul Mabood of Snehi and a close associate of Naidu, speaking to D.N.I.S said, “He was a great friend and colleague, we shared the same beliefs and ideas vis-ŕ-vis mental health and mental illness. With his passing away, I feel an amazing sense of loneliness in my struggle.”
“He brought in the concept of community based rehabilitation of people living with mental illness to India and was a great believer in mainstreaming people living with mental illness in the society and community. He brought in a whole new dimension, a whole new understanding and thinking on mental health in the country. I do not think there is anyone who can aptly fill the vacuum created by his demise,” Mabood added.
G. Syamala, Executive Director, Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (A.A.D.I.), another close associate said, “Naidu had been a friend, philosopher and colleague to many. We shall surely miss him. He had been associated with A.A.D.I. for many years, joined the Governing Board recently and had taken on the position as the Chairman.”
“He has left behind him fond memories, a wealth of learning and a big void. It is indeed a very sad time for all of us. He was the bridge between many dissenting groups, upon whom many relied on to bring the voices of people with disabilities together. It is indeed a major loss to the sector,” Syamala added.
Javed Abidi, Convenor, Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) recalled that he first met Naidu in 1994 and was struck by his calm demeanour. “No matter what the issue, how heated or controversial, he would remain Gandhian and Buddha like,” Abidi reminisced.
“He was a very simple man, almost frugal. He dedicated his life to the rural and poor disabled, and then the latter part of his life to those living with mental illness,” he added.
“In his own quiet way, Naidu left a huge impression on many many hearts and minds. The Indian disability sector is certainly a lot poorer without him”, Abidi said, echoing the feeling of loss that has engulfed the sector.
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