Wednesday, 14 August 2013

In dependence – a time to introspect

14th August 1947:

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

           -  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (from the ramparts of Red Fort)


The People with Disabilities (PWD) Act is enshrined in our law books and promises all sorts of wonderful things – on paper.


It will be ensured that every child with disability has access to appropriate pre-school, primary and secondary level education by 2020.

           -  National Policy for Persons with Disabilities

On the other hand .......

August 6, 2001:

In a horrific incident at Erwadi, near Ramanathapuram, 25 people including 11 women were charred to death. A devastating fire broke out at 5 am, in the thatched hostel housing them. Out of the 46 hostel inmates, 40 were chained to their beds. They kept screaming for help but no one came to their rescue.
The 46 hostel inmates were mentally ill. Erwadi is considered a holy place and has a Dargah. People from various parts of the country brought their loved ones to this place in the belief that the Dargah here had magical powers to cure mental illness. During the course of the 'treatment', these persons with mental illness were frequently caned, whipped and beaten up in the name of 'driving away the evil'. During the day, they were tied to trees with thick ropes. At night, they were tied to their beds with iron chains.

April 20, 2012:

Jeeja Ghosh, an academic waiting in her plane for it to take-off to Pune where she has been invited for a conference, is made to deboard the plane, because the pilot feels she will be a threat to `his passengers' – on account of her cerebral palsy!

July 2013:

Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) plans to shut down the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) for the hearing-impaired.

Conclusion: You couldn't put it better than my friend Rajiv (a wheelchair user and committed `disability activist) said on Facebook today:

30 million Indians live under house arrest in their home-land because being disabled in India could mean:

  • Not leaving your house because pavements are not accessible if you are on crutches, impossible on wheelchairs, and dangerous if you are visually impaired.
  • Oh and if you somehow manage to cross the road, public transport could pose an insurmountable barrier.
  • Only a few lucky children can afford to make their way to an inclusive school.....if it exists.
  • Being barred from voting. Or starting a bank account. Or marrying. Or making any decision on your own (assuming you had a choice).
  • Not being free to pursue education of your choice or being excluded from jobs because workplaces aren't properly designed.

From what Google and Wikipedia tell me, the populations of Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore together amounted, at the time of the census of 2011, to less than 30 million. I wonder what our new boss of RBI, or any right thinking human being,  would think of the consequences of voluntarily keeping a task-force, the size of Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai put together, under house arrest for 66 years and God knows how many more!

1 comment:

  1. sad but very true.... a classic case of bad management... bad planning and worse... a mentality of all and sundry that maims if not kills... the death knell of the so-called demiocracy- desi style of course.... different rules for diiferent folks... the whole lot stinks....