Disability is a ‘state of one’s mind’, and now there is a more progressive way of looking at it. And many Indian ‘divyang’ women have achieved a lot, for they perhaps did not feel handicapped
Kanhaiya Devi, born in the family of a daily wage labourer, has been sightless since childhood. Yet as a busy midwife she has assisted in the births of hundreds of children. A resident of Sahapur village in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, she learned midwifery from her sister-in-law. She hasn’t looked back since, despite personal setbacks.
Kanhaiya Devi is a much-in-demand midwife as she is known for her deftness.She can predict the exact delivery time by merely touching a pregnant woman and she is also a pre and post natal massage expert. “I feel proud that these children are today spread across the country and the world and doing very well,” says Kanhaiya Devi.
“If somebody says ‘vikalang’ (physically challenged person)we immediately start looking at the defect in his or her body. If we start calling them ‘Divyang’ then it immediately changes the perception to focus on what is the special part of the body with divine powers given by God. This will create a change in the mindset of the people,” Prime Minister Modi suggested in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ in 2015.
Philosopher Sir Karl Popper has said man has done wonderful things, has reached the moon and is now going to Mars.In medicine, the longevity has increased. With many achievements in art and culture, every decade our civilisation is advancing. But Sir Popper argues that this is not the right indication of ‘civilisation’. The indication of civilisation is how we take care of disabled the underprivileged: the divyaang.
Daughter of an iron trader inMuzaffarpur, Bihar, Sangeeta runs a residential school for visually impaired, besides being the brain behind Shubham, an NGO that helps poor children from the villages in its vicinity. Being sightless, she found all her efforts to study in a school for normal children thwarted but her academic result was spectacular. She went to school for visually impaired and passed with flying colours, ranking tenth on the merit list. She went on to acquire MPhil and PhD degrees breaking all the barriers.
Similar is the journey of Goa born Navin Hirao Potnis, who lives in Mumbai. He has been sightless since birth. He earns his living by making super enamel copper wire for ceiling fans and earns around Rs 7,000 a month.
Another is the story of Vishal Vidyanath Rao, a 29-year-old congenitally sightless who graduated in political science,draws inspiration from a variety of stimuli as he can adroitly knit a fisherman’s net, but music is his greatest inspiration. This visually impaired Mumbai resident is no mean flautist. He is now learning to play violin as well. He has immense confidence in his ‘power of concentration’ which he says help him to pick up musical notes quicker than most. “I enjoy beauty of all sorts, it does not matter how it is conveyed through sound, touch or smell,”says Rao.
TOver the years, there has been an apparent rise in social awareness among people. The idea is to create awareness that such people should not be neglected in the true spirit of social democracy, where none is left out. It gives a framework in which policies can be initiated and also the greater hopes of civil society initiatives. According to 2011 census, 2.2 per cent of Indian population was disabled. Men comprised 2.74 per cent and women 2.01. Certainly, our religious leaders have been paragons in creating awareness through their magnanimous actions, like Mother Teresa. Swami Vivekananda coined the word Daridra Narayan for economically disabled.
International Labour Organization(ILO) report says that employment rates vary with geographical location, gender, education and the type of disability with the rural and women disabled bearing the brunt of low access to education and health facilities as well as vocational training and labour market. Lower labour market participation is one of the main pathways through which disability leads to poverty.
Disability is now getting social attention. According to 2011 census, 2.2 per cent of Indian population was disabled Men comprised 2. 74 per cent and women 2.01 per cent, it is higher in rural areas with 2.24 per cent and urban it was 2.17. It is higher than 2001 as the categories have increased.
It has been rightly said that ‘disability is a state of mind’.
In 2011, ArunimaSinha a 24 year old national level volley ball player was thrown off the moving train by thugs for refusing to give the gold chain. She lost her left leg when a train went over it. But she did not succumb to her debility as she decided to climb Mount Everest and she did achieve her goal. She was also awarded Padma Shri.
The story of Deepa Malik is an inspiring battle of life and death and emerging victorious against all odds. A budding sports woman and cricketer from Rajasthan despite suffering paralytic shock at the age of 8 with seven broken vertebrae and frequent MRI scans in the absence of titanium plates could not quell her zeal and zest for throwing javelin in 2006. And indeed paralympic glory in Rio.
The famous Paralympic javelin thrower from India won his second gold medal at the Rio Paralympics in F46 event. Born in a low income family in Churu district Rajasthan. Devendra lost his left hand at the age of eight accidentally touching electric wires while trying to climb tree. However, his life changed altogether when he started participating in para athletics in 1995 while in school.
Born in Kerela, the 50-years-old dancer met with an accident when she was just 16. Doctors overlooked a small injury in her leg and plastered it that led to infection. The only option left was to amputate her leg. However, she overcame this by getting prosthetic Jaipur foot and became an acclaimed Bhartanatyam dancer.
Suffering from brittle bone disease 57-year-old Sadhna lost her hearing at the age of 12 and stands 3.3 feet tall. But it could not stymie her from pursuing her passion for painting. She has won the national award and several awards for painting and photography at the state and national level. Now, she conducts classes at her house for teaching this art.
Sightless since the age of six, Punjab born Preeti Monga is a 49-years-old Public Relations Executive with an eye hospital in Delhi.Her life is a living testimony of courage and strong will power. She was a student of Loreto Convent, Delhi Cantonment until standard 8. She was expelled because of her condition. She had to sit at home for a while but despite all setbacks, she achieved her success.
A teacher and anti-corruption activist, Kaul is Secretary General of the All India Confederation of the Blind, New Delhi. Robbed of his eyesight by small pox when he was five he did his Masters from Jammu University and took up the job of teaching the visually impaired. He says, “Who says I am blind? I cannot see with my eyes but I can see with my heart”. Kaul is also an anti-corruption activist. It was his initiative that led to the arrest of Haryana official who had demanded speed money to let him set up a school in Gurgaon. Kaul videotaped the encounter and used it as evidence. Eventually, the corrupt officer was jailed for three months.
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