|by S Joshipura|
|Published on: Jan 21, 2006|
|If you are disabled and living in India, it can’t get more unfortunate than that. For a country known for its rich diversity of species and people, and a population of all different faiths which live in unity, it is really sorry to see the poor plight of the disabled.
The first and foremost area that requires special attention is the attitude of the people towards the disabled. They require our help and support, not our sympathy. I would encourage the use of the term ‘mentally or physically challenged’ instead of the term ‘disabled,’ because people need to change their outlook. I hail TakingITGlobal’s step to make the youth aware of the rights and care of the disabled.
Especially in India, disability is considered a social stigma. In extreme cases such people have been ostracized by the society and treated with indifference as if it is a crime. Numerous instances of mentally challenged persons being abandoned by their own family members have come to light. Awareness has to spread among the people so that people are sensitized towards their plight. There are many Non-Governmental Organisations working in this field however this issue requires a much more active involvement of the society in general.
Unlike the West, in India there is a total absence of respect for the rights of the disabled. It is difficult to find a government building which has a ramp for easy mobility for physically challenged persons. It is piteous to see the difficulties faced by their families. There are no special arrangements for the disabled at public places and functions and there is a lack of special schools and institutions for people with severe disabilities.
The mentally challenged have a poorer plight. There is a lack of good mental asylums in the country. The mentally challenged are kept like prisoners, tied to chains when what they need is emotional support and care. Such inhuman treatment is quite disturbing. They are not allowed to meet their family members on a regular basis. And because of poverty, many people are unable to support the treatment of their mentally challenged family members.
The government has to take the initiative in this regard. This is an area that has been long neglected by them. In India, there are reserved seats for the disabled in colleges and other institutions. However this is not the solution of the problem. More than reserved seats, what they want is understanding of their special needs and the design of building projects keeping them in view, which would ensure their integration into the mainstream. Inspite of their limitations we must remember that they too can be of great help to the society. Their talents should be honed and the right encouragement should be given. We have seen how some of them triumphed against all odds.
I hope that in the future there is greater concern and respect of the rights of the disabled and they are treated with honor and dignity.