This state of mine got me thinking. I have a disability which is temporary – for just about 6 weeks – and I am finding it very difficult to deal with it. What about people who live with a disability for their entire lives? In the past few days I have found it very difficult to move around the city; I can’t get from one place to another without the help of a friend or family. All this has made me wonder why the public transports system, buildings and roads in India are not disable friendly?
As per the 2001 census, 21.9 million or 21,906,769 people are disabled in India. How many these 21.9 million people have a shot at normal life in India?
Let’s start with my experience at the doctor’s clinic. The clinic of the Orthopaedic Surgeon was not disable friendly. I had to use the stairs, with a broken foot. It was with immense difficulty that I accessed the clinic.
The story is the same all over India. For a disabled person, not only getting on board trains and buses is difficult, but even walking on the streets becomes an herculean task. Just a few days back, while driving, I saw an old man in a wheel chair trying to cross the road. The poor fellow got stuck in the traffic, and instead of being nice to him and helping him out, people were being impatient, angry and some even hurled a few abuses at him. Everyone was honking, but no one came forward to help him. In the end, the poor man managed on this own.
Recently, the Archaeological survey of India, with the help of guidelines from NGO Svayam, made Qutub Minar accessible to people with disabilities. Due to the efforts of ASI & NGO Svayam, people with disabilities can now visit the Qutub Minar. But there are so many more historical sights and places of importance in India which are still not easily accessible to anyone with a disability.
In India, people with disabilities are treated as second-class citizens; they have no proper access even to the basic facilities of life. In sharp contrast are the western countries, where the roads are friendly for these special people. If they are in a wheel chair, they can easily cross the road, no assistance needed. In western countries, we also get to see blind people walking down the streets with the help of their guide dogs.How many blind people can have a normal life in India? How many people in a wheel chair can move around without any assistance?
The answers is anyone’s guess!
It is important to understand that the disabled people are just like the rest of the citizens of this country. As a citizen of this country, they have the right to lead a normal life, just like any of us. It requires awareness and determination on the part of all of us, not just the government and civic officials. We can do our part by raising our voice for our fellow citizens; next time we see a person in wheel chair crossing the road we should stop to help him, and not yell at him for delaying us by a few minutes. The government and the people in authority also need to immediately wake up to this issue. They need to take steps to build roads & footpaths that are easy to navigate. The trains, buses and even the foot-bridges need to be made disable friendly. There should be lifts to access the train stations and foot-bridges. The offices, public buildings and even private buildings should accommodate the needs of every citizen. Lastly, the government needs to put in place, and implement, rules and regulations to make this country friendly for every citizen.
I know my disability is temporary. In a month or two I will be back to my old normal life, a life where I don’t have to struggle to get around. Bu,t it has made me think about all the others who are not as fortunate as I am. Isn’t it time we all stood up for our fellow citizens and made this world a better place for them to live in?
Source: Census India