Earlier this year, the Supreme Court came up with an extremely progressive decision safeguarding the right to privacy for Indian citizens. And that brings me to Article 15 of the Constitution. Quoting from India’s holy grail – the articles clearly state that “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”. Seventy years on, perhaps it’s time the Supreme Court expands the interpretation of this definition to include India’s disabled population and give them the constitutional recognition generations of governments have failed in delivering.
It is time India starts looking at the disabled as a resource. Let’s not drain this resource by making the mobility aids unaffordable. Instead, let’s nurture this resource by giving PwDs opportunities to avail the best education and health care and provide them jobs. An income-tax paying disabled person could add substantially to India’s GDP. Only by ensuring this, can Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfil his ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ dream.
You’re the one who has always helped me bounce back. I still remember the many rejections I faced in my professional and personal life in the year 2011. As I sat at home depressed, listless and purposeless, it was you that taught me the power of gratitude. You asked me to maintain a daily diary, listing all the things in life that I was grateful for. Your name is the first thing on that list, today and every day.
“Those who run this country study at St Stephen’s” my grandfather had proudly told me on my admission to the college. Like every decision in life, autonomy will have it’s own consequences – good and bad. And St Stephen’s has always stood out for being different.
That the Bill will soon become a law is a step forward and I am glad the disabled in India finally have something to celebrate. However, let’s not for a moment become complacent and believe that battle has been won. It has just begun.
And then I was back, swiping away. My profile had changed, the filters had changed and so had my luck. I got two matches. The first was a girl I didn’t find particularly attractive but I still decided to message her. This was my first trip down dating app alley and I stumbled into it like a drunk in a disco.
However, my first thoughts were “that’s the end of movies in theatres for me”. I live a kilometre away from a mall in Gurgaon. However, I’ve been to the theatre only once courtesy the intimidating storey of steps that I had to tackle to reach my seat. Now there is one more fear of being branded ‘anti-national’ because I can’t stand up for the national anthem.
My meeting with Preethi was a similar moment of awakening for me. I’ve never really been sad about what I cannot do. I am an eternal optimist who believes he’s the best thing that’s happened to the world. However, on Sunday night, I took a moment to appreciate what I do have. I think that occasionally we all should.
Imagine the life of a child who loves reading books but can never visit a bookstore. A young man who stops visiting his physiotherapist because the hospital he has been to all his life, suddenly has a new staircase. Imagine a person living a stone’s throw away from a theatre but having never seen a film, there. And imagine being 29, educated, earning, yet, never being able to visit an ATM to access his own money.
India has not exactly been a champion of the privacy of its citizens, nor has it been a guard against health hazards. I am inclined to trust the judgement of the Unites States of America on both these matters.
It is time that we in the disabled community decide how we want the world to see us. Are we open to being regarded as complete individuals with likes and dislikes and emotional highs and lows? Can we be both perfect gentlemen as well as complete rascals?
An initial attempt to make the Railways disabled-friendly were SLRD coaches. This acronym stands for Second Class Luggage Rake for Disabled Passengers, but I thought of it as Sad Luck trying to Ride, Disabled Passengers.
I’m a member of the disabled club. While I have a large and diverse set of friends today, this wasn’t always the case. In school, I was a social outcast, with my social interactions limited to the answers I gave to the teachers’ questions. Not that the teachers really believed in me, or thought that I’ll be an eminent alumnus one day. What they had was an ocean of sympathy for this boy in a wheelchair who was doing something beyond just sitting in a wheelchair.
It was on the 23rd of December that I appeared before the Delhi High Court with a request for the exemption of the disabled from the "Odd-Even rule" and the monthly "Car-Free Day" introduced by the Delhi Government. Many asked me why did you need to go to court?
My disability has me wheelchair-bound for life. So, the car-free day in Delhi is going to be a “stay-at-home” day for me. There are no accessible public transport options for persons with disabilities (PwDs) in the city.
I also went through interviews where I was questioned on whether I had ever read a book in my life; while common sense eventually prevailed that I had, in fact, read a book, corporates consistently found creative ways to reject me.
'Accessible India’ is a great start, indicating intent to do great things for the disabled community and kudos to the government for that! However, its eventual success will depend on the level of engagement of all stakeholders in moving this campaign forward.
I was denied entry into the pub with their management stating that they do not allow the disabled inside as a 'policy'. My wheelchair was also physically stopped, which, for a wheelchair user, is equivalent to being manhandled.
India is a challenging place to live in for a person with a disability. Even in this day and age, I am often not offered a menu in restaurants as the wait staff does not know how to interact with a wheelchair user. It’s even tougher to order a cocktail, as the waiter always rechecks by saying, “It’s alcoholic,” sometimes even checking with those accompanying me whether I can have one. I’m assuming the average 27-year-old does not have to go through these ritual humiliations.