Despite government apathy, some disabled people conquer all

January 16th, 2010 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

By Shilpa Raina
New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Disabled people say despite their protests and a plethora of laws, government apathy towards them continues. But some of them conquer this as well as their disability.

“A lot of money is given to backward classes to study for employment examinations but we don’t get anything,” said Delhi-based Pradeep Raj, both of whose legs are polio- stricken.

“It’s not that we are begging for something; it’s just that we want to prove ourselves. We know we have the calibre but not the money. So it’s just a matter of acknowledgment.”

Raj walks without any support and is an avid table tennis player. He works for the Association for Disabled People and trains other disabled people in different sports disciplines. Raj is a role model to people who otherwise start losing confidence in themselves after suffering a disability.

Another role model is Nityanand Das, trained Odissi dancer who lost his right leg in an accident 10 years ago and now dances on one leg.

“Dancing was always my passion. After losing my leg in 2000, I was devastated but determined to fight back. So, I started practising again on one leg in 2004 and performed on stage in 2005. After that I have not looked back,” Das told IANS on phone from Bhubaneswar.

“Today people give me preference because I can dance on one leg. I have taken this adversity in a positive manner. I have no regrets at all,” he added.

These people will be honoured with “IBN7 Bajaj Allianz Super Idols” for excelling in their careers and overcoming the challenges of their lives Jan 19 in Mumbai.

For Madurai-based S.M.A. Jinnah, 65, life was all good till he started to lose his eyesight following an accident. By the age of 13, he lost his vision completely.

This didn’t deter him from chasing his dreams of getting a good education. His friends and family helped him and he finished his B.Ed and went to Boston University to study for a postgraduate diploma in special education.

Jinnah is the founder of the Indian Association for the Blind and is involved in educating, training and giving employment opportunities to visually impaired people through this organisation.

He says parents sometimes hamper the development of disabled kids by being over-protective.

“There are times when parents treat their disabled kids as pet children. This is due to ignorance. More than disabilities, it is the attitude that has to be changed.”

Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), however has no problems with the common man who may be ignorant.

“If they see us and come to help us, we shouldn’t be feeling offended because that is what is taught to all of us - help others.”

Abidi told IANS: “It is the government of India that is completely insensitive towards disabled people.”

New Delhi-based Abidi is wheelchair- bound, is paralysed below his waist. He has been generating awareness and empowering disabled people throughout the country.

According to Abidi, 6-7 percent of the Indian population is disabled, which comes to a figure of about 70 million people.

Abidi says the government ignores the disabled because they do not form a vote bank.

“For politicians, we are not vote banks. This speaks volumes about our government. The day politicians realise our strength, they will start working for our betterment. But right now, we have to fight for our rights and it is a very sad situation.”

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

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