By Mayank Jain:Â
We pride ourselves on the fact that we are a very tolerant and welcoming country for people from everywhere and there is room for everyone, but this notion of India is fast fading among our own people. Differently abled people who already lead a hard life due to their medical issues also face social stigma and prying stares from everyone around them but their determination and will to succeed is what we never fail to see and celebrate.
They are the ones who have done so much in spite of being lesser privileged than most of us and they are the ones whom we should help get up and rise to glory instead of playing them down or ignoring them as a section of people that doesn’t matter to us. Recent developments support the latter view of ignorance and apathy though.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2013 was finally approved by the cabinet after sustained efforts of the disabled rights groups all across the country but right before it was being tabled in Rajya Sabha, both houses were adjourned sine die. This comes as a shock to the whole disabled rights community since they have burned the midnight oil to get this done through various protests, consultations and meetings with apathetic ministers. The winter session is now over and the budget session is on its way which will have nothing to do with the bill. General elections in 2014 will happen afterwards, which will wash off any hope of getting the bill passed because the new government might just scrap it right off.
Interacting with one such differently abled activist Mr. Pradeep Raj, I discovered how important it is to them and they have lost all hope of it getting cleared by the next government so the time is now or never for them. “There are 70 million differently abled people in India and the clearance of it affects more people than Section 377 does but media constantly chooses to ignore us as non-existent and we have never been able to get our efforts through”. He is a famous activist and responsible for many corruption disclosures in Paralympic Committee of India and his dissent is not towards the LGBTQ community which but towards the mainstream media for whom a movie’s earnings or its reviews mean a lot more than the need of differently abled people among us.
In that short discussion he told his story of struggle and how he has led protests all across Delhi and outside many minister’s office but to no avail. All the community wants right now is a special session of Parliament to be called and the bill should be tabled. This is not much of a ask if we look at the number of people getting affected but the only reason it didn’t happen sooner is that the elite society doesn’t think of them as their own people and media fails to highlight such issues until they make a news through protesting or activism.
What we can all do to support Pradeep and millions of others with him is to just raise our voices and amplify this issue to the decision making authorities to give them a chance to be heard so that they also get their fair share of rights. Is that too much to ask for?