Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Voice for the Disabled People of India

Aamir  Khan  is  a  popular  Bollywood  actor. He has made  several  films on  social  issues. These  days  he  is  hosting  a  TV  programme called Satyamev Jayate in  which   he  takes up  various  social  evils and  mal practises  rampant  in  our  society,issues like the  killing  of  the  the  female  child, brides  being  killed  for  dowry, violence against   women and  child  abuse. He  has also  given  a  voice  to  millions  of   disabled  people  in India. today   Today,  he  was  invited  to  the  upper  house  of  the  Parliament  to  talk  about  medical   mal practises. He wrote  the  following  article   for  a  leading  Indian  newspaper.

One  simple  step  to  increase  our GDP
by  Aamir Khan

In America, 12 per cent of the population is counted as disabled, the corresponding percentage in England is 18 and in Germany, nine. In India, government statistics claim it is two per cent. Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People has a very poignant question with regard to the above numbers: what is so amazing about the Indian environment or climate or gene pool that we have only a tenth or a fifth of the number of persons with disabilities when compared to other countries? Or is it that something is wrong with our counting?

Until the year 2000 — 53 years after Independence — the Census did not record a single disabled person in India! In other words, in the minds of the people making policy, taking decisions and allocating funds, the disabled did not exist. And if they did not exist, obviously we did not do much for them. So in the first 53 years of Independence, while we were building the infrastructure of our country, we did little or nothing to include them in our thoughts and actions. Therefore, the bulk of our infrastructure is not disabled-friendly, leaving them further marginalised, and disabling them further.

How we behave with the disabled among us tells us what kind of a people we are.

Ketan Kothari, another expert, explains how, by and large, we have two kinds of reactions to disabled people: one, that they must have done something wrong in their previous birth and therefore deserve what they got; two, let us use them as a ticket to heaven — make a donation to an organisation working for the disabled, or give money to a disabled person asking for alms, and score some brownie points with God. If this is how many of us behave towards the disabled, it is a sorry picture that we paint of ourselves.

Time to change, guys.

So where and how should this change begin? Education.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme and the Right to Education Act say that every child in India is guaranteed an education. Despite that, most regular schools in India deny admission to children with disabilities. They cite lack of infrastructure and trained special educators. They are probably right. But what stops so many schools across India from becoming inclusive and disabled-friendly? Who is putting a gun to their heads, not allowing them to do this? I'm afraid it is our own lack of thought, application of mind, and maybe of heart. Let's change that. If we start today, each school (if it really wants to) can become a truly integrated school within a period of two, or at most three, years. Let each school make this its target.

Currently, an alarmingly low percentage of children with disabilities are educated. Without the foundation of a strong education, no child can reach his or her potential in life. By denying children with disabilities admission in regular schools, we are denying them their right to education and, therefore, their right to make their lives productive.We are also denying other children the right to intermingle with, learn from, and grow up with friends with disabilities, and vice versa. With education for our persons with disabilities, we can prepare them to be productive, look after themselves, and their families.

The government says two per cent of our population is disabled. Various experts and NGOs say it is six per cent. I think it is safe to assume that the number is somewhere between six and 10 per cent — let's say eight. Now eight per cent of 1.2 billion is 96 million. That is more than the population of England (51 million), France (65 million) and Germany (80 million). As Mr. Abidi puts it, what we as society need to decide is, do we want 96 million of our population to be uneducated, unemployed, unproductive and left with no choice but to be a weight that the rest of us carry? Or do we want them to be educated, employed, productive, able to look after themselves and their families, contributing to the growth and wealth of our nation? If we want the latter then we simply cannot achieve that without including them in our mainstream education system.

That's the bottom line.

(Scource The  Hindu)

7 Fertilize my soul:

Zim said...

Thank You Amrita for this interesting note. Aamir Khan makes a good job. Last time I read in Internet, that 25% of the poorest people in the world are disabled people. Here in Poland situation is better, but it is still far away from ideal - in small towns or in villages disabled people have hard live.

Buttercup said...

Amrita, this is a great article. I have spent most of my career working with people with disabilities and see education and inclusion as a key to a better world for all.

Gerry said...

An insightful entry. It is amazing that the disabled would be ignored in this fashion, made invisible so to speak. I hope those advocating for them will be success in getting them recognized, going to school, etc, as I think you are right that the rest of society needs to interact with them in order to understand what has happened to them.

Just Be Real said...

Blessings to you dear Amrita!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Amrita,

Very thought provoking article.

Yes, there are millions of disabled people in India and it is very painful to see them fending for themselves.The government is not interested in them or as Amir Khan says they can't see them because they are not in the census record. The poor disabled people live purely on public sympathy and support and live a miserable and painful existence. The government is spending tax payers money for so many useless purposes. Recently our Prime Minister pledged ten million dollars of Indian tax payers money without batting an eyelid for supporting the European Union where as India is facing starvation,poverty, ever increasing prices of essential commodities, lack of clean drinking water and so on. Yet our Prime Minister is not concerned about the poor suffering Indians.He is only concerned about his image in the eyes of the international community. He doesn't understand that charity begins at home.

Your post is very thought provoking.

Best wishes,
Joseph

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Yes, people with disabilities should not be marginalized because they also belong to our society. They should be made to choose to become productive for themselves and for society. Discriminating against and alienating them will do our society more harm than good. Every child of God has the inalienable right to be productive. Thanks for the post. God bless you always.

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
How extraordinary that a popular, good looking actor uses his time and influence to talk the case of the less fortunate.
Things like that makes me happy, and hopeful. I think India is moving forwards in giant leaps.
I had become a country of great interest tome, and I like the trend I see.
I also was impressed by those protesting against the Olympics 2012 for letting a company hurting several thousand workers be a sponsor of the Olympics. Result, the company was denied to show its logo on any sports wear worn by Olympic athletes.
India demanding respect and righteousness for its inhabitants, that is a good way to go.
From Felisol