Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On Disability

[Posted using Microsoft Live Writer]

Recently, I read this article in the Deccan Herald in which a former bureaucrat in the disability department of the state government talked about the duty of the civil society towards the disabled. It burnt me up so much that I HAD to write a riposte and bingo, it was published, though in the process, the editors destroyed the intent of my letter.

Anyhoo, if you are interested,

here is the original article:

here is the letter that got published:

Here is what I actually wrote:

This is in response to Mr. B C Pradeep Kumar's article "Disability and good governance" in the Deccan Herald (DH, 3rd Dec 2007). While Mr. Pradeep Kumar rightly points out that much more needs to be done to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream, he is barking up the wrong tree as far as solutions are concerned.

Let's examine what the state has done for the disabled. Yes, we have reservations for the disabled, and maybe the budgetary allocation has far exceeded the national capita, but what concrete difference has it made to the lives of the disabled? Of what use is budgetary allocation on paper when the disabled don't have ramps to climb into the buildings where they can claim those allocations? Of what use is reservations, when the physical access to the job/education is impossible? Roads in Bangalore are a terror even for able-bodied people - how are the disabled expected to cope? How is a poor, disabled person expected to travel to work, given that even the state road transport organization isn't disabled-friendly?

It has become a hallmark of those in power to talk about lofty principles, on-paper budgets, and commissions that do nothing. What they never had is the empathy or the will to do something, something small that would make a huge difference. Mr. Kumar's article is in the same vein. Programs, Commissions, lofty talk, but no action. The observant reader would note how none of the "progressive" steps he mentions includes basic needs like disabled-friendly footpaths, ramps in public buildings, disabled-friendly buses, and the like. That is the unfortunate reality.


kattricker said...

I think the author being an ex-commissioner probably was comparing disability programs across many states but on an absolute level nothing really fruitful is done anywhere. The one catch all solution in India is reservation, its such a powerful word that it can shut any mouth! And the creation of committees and sub-committees and investigation units the results that they publish go into cob-web filled shelves. I was recently watching c-span about a senate sub-committee investigation into abuses by credit card companies. First of all, its televised so everyone can view it. Secondly the way the senators were grilling the credit card representatives after their victims testified was really amazing. It was essentially cheating by credit card companies and the senators vouched to bring bills to law if they did not behave. I am not in the intention of India bashing here, but clearly democracy is at a totally different level back there.

Gops said...

Oh absolutely.