Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Today is International disability day. Another year has come and passing on for disability sector, every December we wait for something, we anticipate and pray for certain things, we have the audacity to think that things will change towards inclusion. We hope that this year will be the end of discrimination and abuse. We are tiresomely happy sometimes, that though you are burned, somewhere something is happening for better. Some years we cringe and cry helplessly, that years together activists who have worked and made petition after petition, works day and night, their work goes down the drain on a Disability Day… then we take a fall, dust off our insults, gather the energy of rights and take another leap with our assistive devices for another year of hope, courage, rights and inclusion.
You might all wonder WHY ITS GETTING SO DIFFICULT FOR DISABLED COMMUNITY TO GET WHAT THEY WANT? ON TOP OF IT EVERYBODY AGREE THAT, WHAT WE ASK IS JUSTIFIED AND LEGAL RIGHTS JUST LIKE HUMAN RIGHTS? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OTHER ACTIVISM AND DISABILITY ACTIVISM AND WHY WE ARE STILL NOT ACHIEVING WHAT WE WISH TO ACHIEVE??
There are TWO answers to it..
ONE – SIMPLE ONE – THE BELOW CARTOON EXPLAINS IT- STOP DISCRIMINATION & START INCLUSION
TWO- ELABORATE ONE
let me try to explain this in different perspectives and perceptions to the extent as an advocate and as a Person with Disability
· Collective Bargain & Team Work:
With due respect to gender rights, human rights and other rights based issues, achieving them is relatively possible even in a larger country like India, where there is ‘win -win’ in this scenario. Because possible meeting and networking is not possible in Indian scenario, given the lack of accessibility and pan Indian organizations working for persons with disabilities. We are still at the stage where we ASK to include, not DEMAND it as our legal right. With geographical and sectoral/theme/disability wise differences are stopping us to act as one voice consensus in India. This is a serious problem we are trying to attempt.
The implementers, government take full advantage of the chaos, and most of the times, bills were passed into Acts without consensus and proper discussion of DPO (disabled people organizations). Lone voices however truthful, they may be being snubbed by old leadership setting up a perfect example of one-sided decision making approach. The proposed amendment which is accepted yesterday as a ‘surprise package/gift’ by government to sector is seriously suffering from one thing- TRANSPARENCY AND INCLUSION. aren’t we fighting for the same?
DISABILITY RIGHTS ALLIANCE- DRA WROTE A BEAUTIFUL PIECE ABOUT WHATS STILL WRONG WITH THE ACCEPTED BILL,
You can read it here- https://docs.google.com/document/d/185TDNRg6wVIR-Ob13paUtnvl4cbxTzkpknXEpuY-eos/edit
Our journeys together are very short:
as persons with disabilities, our journeys are laced with pain, lack of access, physical rehabilitation and mental agony of being an activist in a country where, MOST OF THE RIGHTS ARE CONSIDERED AS CHARITY AND MAGNANIMITY of the giver. Today, I remember many many friends, whom the sector lost, best example Mr. Rahul Cherian, Mr. Sanjeev Sachdeva, among many great leaders from different disability forums in India. It pains a lot sometimes, we lost our battles sometimes even before they begun because, our warriors physically defenseless to this carefully polluted, structurally inaccessible India.
· Everything about us-without us:
All these hue and cry is to include, when you can’t reach to people, institutions, services and facilities, what all you will do is, plead, manipulate, negotiate alone, first with immediate family, care givers, employers and environment and then with system. In the whole process, MOST OF THE DISABILITIES AND DISABLED PEOPLE ARE NOT SEEN, THEY ARE NEW UNSEEABLES (MUCH WORSE THAN UNTOUCHABILITY PRACTICE WHICH WAS PREVELENT)
If we take into cognizance the accessibility part of the above cartoon, lack of access is a great equalizer and ignorance builder.
· Disabled people are an inspiration vis-à-vis needs no legal rights:
Who sets out this race or life of disability and who stops the buck and at what pace, place and time…? does anyone has an answer to this? no,
By being disabled, are we exceptional? No, we are not exceptional, our will power sometimes may be exceptional…!!
EVERY EXCEPTION NEEDS CERTAIN EXEMPTIONS TOO WITH ALL THE GUMPTION IT NEEDED, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT!
Hope you understand where are we now? In India, we are waiting for RIGHTFUL RIGHTS AND PROPER INCLUSION, NOT JUST LIP SERVICE, WITH THE PASSING OF RPD BILL’2014 TO RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT’2016 WITH MORE EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF DISABILITIES, I AM HOPING THE CHANGE HAS JUST BEGUN, HOW MUCH LEGAL OPACITY AND REAL CAPACITY IT OFFERS..ONLY TIME WILL TELL.. ONLY TIME WILL TELL…!!
Pictures courtesy: Disability Rights Alliance, Vaishnavi Jayakumar and Desi-bility Dialogue whatsapp group, UN Enable, thank you so much from bottom of my heart..!!
© Sai Padma: IPR:// All Rights Reserved