Accessible India! When and How ?

We need a friendly infrastructure and change in mindset of people~ Rajvi Gosalia.

I am Rajvi a young girl living in Gujarat. I have completed my bachelors in economics then I worked in a company where I was a team leader for four years. In future I want to be a motivational speaker.

I am suffering from cerebral palsy and I am a wheel chair user. I cannot walk. I have to struggle with my family at every step in my life but we both have accepted it and moving ahead happily in life or at least we keep on trying.

India is a country with 2nd highest population in the world where one can imagine the population of the people who are differently abled which is around 2.21 per cent of the population or approximately 26.8 million Indians suffer from a disability but if you look around one can rarely found any construction at public or private places which is favorable for us to live in the society on our own. This clearly reflects that this society has already decided that this world is not for us.

Disability is something which you cannot just stop or eradicate. There has been a marginal increase in the differently-abled population in India, with the figure rising from 21.9 million in 2001 to 26.8 million in 10 years. There are 14.9 million men with disabilities as compared to 11.8 million women in the country. The total number of differently-abled people is over 18 million in the rural areas and just 8.1 million enumerated in the urban settings. The percentage of men with disabilities is 2.41 as against 2.01 in women. Social groups wise analysis shows, 2.45 per cent of the total disabled population belong to the Scheduled Castes, 2.05 to the Scheduled Tribes and 2.18 per cent to other than SC/ST. Even among these two social groups, the proportion of men with disabilities is higher as compared to women.

State-wise data shows, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir have more than 2.51 per cent disabled population whereas in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland, the percentage is less than 1.75.

In whole world persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population, over one billion 80% of whom live in developing countries like India. They frequently experience discrimination and face barriers to participation in all aspects of society for example, in accessing Education, employment, health care and transportation.

Disability is a tangible deterrent to realizing one’s full potential. It becomes an even greater handicap due to the insensitivity of the society. In India, disabled people face many challenges in gaining employment in India.

1 Infrastructure – Disabled people have certain special infrastructural requirements like provisions for ramps etc. However, the quality of infrastructure in India tends to be bad and such special requirements remain largely unfulfilled.

  1. Insensitivity – The mental attitude of society towards disabled people assumes them to a liability and rarely acknowledges their abilities or productivity. This also hinders them in getting jobs.
  2. Ecosystem Approach – Disabled people also lack quality special schools, tools like books and skill development institutions. Hence, they mostly have to depend on their own initiatives to gain knowledge and skills. This later hampers them when they search for jobs.
  3. Psychological issues – All these factors combined with the issue of their disability has a psychological impact on such people. There are rarely any facility to help them deal with such issues.

In India we cannot imagine to go out alone and work on our own. We always have to depend on others willingly or unwillingly. Most of the time we have to give up our dreams like we don’t have any right to dream.

Where ever we go we have to prove ourselves by all the possible means that we are capable to work. I am looking for job for like 6 to 7 months and it has become tough for me to convince people that I can work and I have worked. They show their surprised expressions when I put my salary expectation which is already half of their other employees. People think wheel chair users are useless.

We do seminars for people like us where people give motivational speeches and generate hopes but I would say these seminars should be for corporates or the so called abled people in the society who are not at all ready to take a single percentage of risk to higher people like us. In fact differently abled people work harder and with more concentration. We don’t need counseling anymore but the normal people in society specially corporates.

I heard that there are examples of a ‘’differently abled friendly society’’ where we do not count as useless but this is very insufficient. I want to go abroad because I heard that they are far better than India in terms of having infrastructure, rules and regulations for differently abled people. We want to work and we are capable enough to earn but society is not at all ready to accept us. We don’t count ourselves different than you.

People treat us like we are not human beings. They ask silly questions like weather we also feel the same as they are or not. Common we are not Elian but just taking support of machines.

Well the clear message I want to give for instance is about infrastructure. I want that there should be ramp at every public places where we should not face such humiliating situation the places like temple, toilets, colleges, universities, malls, multiplex, restaurants, parks hotels anyplace where capable people goes, and even there is no sign board or marks for us.

There are certain initiatives and laws for differently abled people but it will take time to come on ground, because when it comes to giving us opportunity no one is ready to take risk of hiring us. They stop our dreams. As I am a girl my parents are worried about my safety in terms of getting sexually harassed. Our families also restrict themselves to go out just because there is no ramp or any small modification in infrastructure.

The society has to realize that disability does not make an individual a liability. Such individuals often because of sheer grit and determination not only overcome their handicap but become an inspiration to other people as well.

We need to be free from a bigotry society. People who are paralyzed and handicap are the part of this society. But I know God is there, if he takes something from us he definitely gives us something special. We don’t want sympathy we want opportunity.

(Story of Rajvi Gosalia written by Diksha Singh)

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