You’re home to over 133 crore people today. People from completely diverse backgrounds, race, caste, sex and abilities. Out of these 133+ crore people, there are more than 2.68 crore people who are persons with disabilities and I happen to be one of them. We make up almost 3% of the whole population.
I was born here, I grew up here, I live here, yet I am sceptical if I can really call you my “home”, truly.
My purpose is not to just highlight the negatives, I was lucky enough to be accepted in a school where I was given the best possible facilities they could give at that time, I was given equal opportunities, I had one of the most accepting teachers and staff that I could get and I still consider myself lucky to be able to study in one of the best colleges of the country which is also one of the most accessible places. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by the best parents and friends that I could get who accepted me the way I am and are there every step of the way. My parents have always taught me not to settle for anything lesser than what I deserve. I am extremely grateful for that and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to have this but it’s unfortunate that I cannot say that for everyone else like me. I am hoping to change that in the coming time.
We live in a society where we can spend a substantial fortune making fancy buildings and infrastructure, yet installing elevators or building ramps to make it accessible for people with disability usually takes a back seat in our minds. We often choose to ignore it. For some of us, accessibility is building lifts in fancy malls which can be used after climbing four stairs.
We grow up learning the value of education and how it is meant to be worshipped, yet it is ironic how something as basic as education or admission in schools is denied to so many children like me, every day, because the school cannot aid the required facilities or the infrastructure is not up to the mark. Children are told they don’t “fit” in the school’s environment. The same place which teaches “accessibility” and “inclusivity”.
Religion and the places of worship are the basis of our foundation. Yet most of them are inaccessible in some form or the other.
Mind you, my agenda isn’t just infrastructural accessibility, my prime focus is ” inclusivity “. These terms may sound similar but inclusivity is just not limited to infrastructural accessibility, but includes acceptance, by society, as an equal part of it.
Our definition of accessibility is sometimes lifting up the person in a wheelchair to climb up whatever levels are required. Not only that is disrespectful but it is nothing close to accessibility.
It’s unfortunate that it’s 2019, yet we are a society where we judge before we know. A society where we assume before we ask. A society where we generalise before we equalise. I aspire for an India which is one for all, all for one, where everyone one fits equally.
Hoping for you to be inclusive.