Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where there is a will there is a way...

Couple of days back, traveling thorough one of the punishing traffic struck routes during the early hours of yet another day I saw a remarkable man who would be in his mid thirties. He was waiting just beside my vehicle near the traffic junction. The noteworthy reality was that here was a man who had two artificial limbs and was firmly holding the arm of a redesigned scooter, with three wheels and like any another regular commuter was waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

In the course of our daily life, we come across many such panoramas which often make us think that many of us are fortunate not to have any of those physical disfigurations. These defacements may be there since birth, or would have been the result of any mishap or accident.

Most people learn about disabled persons and disability issues from the mass media, few have some family members who are handicapped or from some other source. The general trend is we tend to attend to these individuals with blanket of sympathy. It is unquestionable that we are a bunch of generous people and many a times we take a coin and drop it into the hands of a disabled person lowering the window glass when struck in a traffic jam. Their sad faces, their invocations, their sob stories generate the most diverse emotions in us. Is it correct or in-correct, even I don’t have a confirmed answer to that which can be accepted by all. But that said, in my opinion sympathy should not be used as a tool to canvass for donation. It is an inelegant and graceless portrayal of disabled persons. I read about a few stories over the last week that fortified my view that disabled persons do not need sympathy and all that they need is opportunities to actualize their full potentials.

Among these disabled persons, there is a sizeable number that prefers to sustain life by garnering sympathy. But there is another lot that does not need the dramatization of their lives with pathetic scripts of commiseration; rather they are interested in individual action transcending the limitations that they have. Their activities not only bring in monetary benefits but also spread a positive message in the entire community for the long run. Give a person a fish and you satisfy him for a day. The same repetitive action of an individual can gratify the person the next day, the day next to that and so on. On the contrary, if the person is taught how to fish, s/he is fed for life.

A couple of days back, it came in the news that in a unique bid, the President and CEO of Costa Coffee, Virag Joshi has employed ten people who can not hear or speak for its outlet in South Delhi. This group of ten people was hired on experimental basis, was trained for forty-five days and later after conditioning, these smart individuals managed the show with a high degree of professionalism and customer satisfaction.
Virag Joshi says, "They are a part of the society and there's nothing wrong in them. What we can do, maybe they can do it better".
Complete video is here.

Today internet has become the oxygen of our lives and without the World Wide Web we feel choking, lagging and muzzling. With this fact in mind, access to the internet is one of the ways to lift disabled persons up from the marginalized status that they are in today. Victor Tsaran, the Accessibility guru and who himself is visually impaired did a yeoman job in breaking the barriers of prejudice that stand in the way of participation. Victor along with his team has come up with something groundbreaking that enable the visually impaired to use the Internet to check email as well as search for content.

The prime motive behind this modern idea is to play a positive part by empowering the disabled persons with the same tools as those used by able persons.

These glimpses into the lives of a few disabled people but who are differently able in some form or the other to faces the challenges in life, re-affirms the spirit of human life and also the cognitive opinion that 'where there is a will there is a way'.

The International Day of Disabled Persons is around the corner on the 3rd of December. We have gone past this day many times over the years but looking back, have we done anything substantial to offer equal opportunities to this disabled lot and to integrate them seamlessly in all walks of our societal life? Or do we still continue to pour our sympathies from the corner of the window-glass of the car in the traffic junction. Does that address the touched on issue with proper sensitivity?

Keep reading and remain connected.

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At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Amrita said...

It's a combination of many things that turns DISability into DIFFERENTLY-abled. One is the way we view people who are challenged in some way - do we see it as the sum of their life or a part of their life? Second is how much do we, society and state, plan for these people - in terms of walkways, platforms, etc. In most parts of India there's barely any infrastructure for people who abled much less disabled. Third is helping them overcome their problems and lead productive lives. I'm sure there are other steps that I've overlooked :)

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Amit Aneja said...


In my opinion, one should try to build an environment for these people where they can feel that they are cared. This is very important for any disabled person. I fully agree with Amrita that government has not invested much for development of these children.
I still know some cases of Autism in Delhi that are unattended or treated as "MAD" because of lack of proper knowledge within our community.

But one can't sit back and curse the government or infrastructure that we really lack in our country.We all can be part of this change through whatever little we can contribute to our surroundings.
I want to share with you a beautiful scene that happened at Project WHY last month. This was true intermingling of culture.



At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anu said...

I am disabled.

There I said it! Do you know that for years and years and years I have been told not to say that and to pretend everything is hunky-dory. That's beacuse I have a diability that is not evident - I'm partially deaf.

I know of people in this predicament. I urge you all to go and get that hearing test and go and get those hearing aids - it's worth fighting for...


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