by Mekhala Chaubal
Published on: Apr 29, 2009
Type: Experiences

Nilesh Singit has a story to tell. ‘Can you believe they almost didn’t let me vote?’ He refers to the time when a few months ago when he arrived at an election booth in Mumbai, only to find it inaccessible on the second floor of a building with no elevators. ‘Luckily, I knew who to contact and had to make a few calls, but I did finally get to vote. It was difficult though.’

Nilesh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, and as a young man, worked in a variety of number of different places, before deciding to follow his passion for Disability Rights. As he puts it, ‘With an M.A. in Literature, I didn’t fit into the usual mould of professions anyway, so I went on to do what I really wanted to.’

Because Mumbai has a reputation for being quite inaccessible, as is the case with a quite a few other metropolises, Nilesh often has to rely on his personal funds for transportation, mostly through taxicabs. He says that rural India does not have accessibility, mostly because of the lack of funds, and not so much the will, but it makes travelling there all the more difficult. ‘There are major problems with the infrastructure, really, and there have been some accidents because of this.’

Nilesh also talks about the fact that much of the activism is elitist, with most of the funding being allocated to urban programs, and not much being left for the rural ones. Also, HIV activism is at its highest right now, so ‘all the money goes there.’ Nilesh also says that disability-based HIV education is almost non-existent. ‘It’s a Catch-22. And perhaps the youth organizations of today can help change that.’

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