The Disabled up on sale

Friday, October 15, 2010

 

It was 9th October 2010 when TOI Mumbai had published a news in the front page:

“Wed a Disabled Person, Get Rs 50,000/- from the State” (source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Wed-a-disabled-person-get...)

Most people I know were appalled to hear this. Just the basic ideology behind the scheme sounds nauseating. I for one thought this was the most humiliating news as a disabled person. The thought of paying someone to marry me!!!!!!!! I can go on expressing my distress about this scheme.

While I, along with may other thought it to be ridiculous but alongside there was a thought that disabled people from under privileged economic backgrounds may benefit from this especially because Rs 50,000/- is a large sum of money for them. I have never worked with disabled people from poor background, so was forced to rethink my stand regarding the scheme. 

Now that I am thinking there are various other issues that are coming to my mind confusing me further. I am stating my confusions below hoping to have a discussion and get various view points:

  • Today the disability movement is demanding for a rights based society where a disabled person has equal rights and equal access to exercise those rights. At least, that was my understanding from all the advocacy happening for amending the existing PWD Act, so if that is the case than why is charity so acceptable.
  • All of us – if I may say, more vocal people with disabilities condemn the thought of charity because it hurts our self esteem as human beings then why does the same charity in the case of marriage seem alright for a disadvantages disabled person. Is he/she not a person first before happening to be disabled like any of us?
  • Probably only 5% of my friends with disabilities are married in spite of their being economically stable mostly because non marriage of disabled people is a social issue so is it fair that the government only encourages or addresses this issue only amongst people below a certain income group? And that to by hanging a carrot of monetary incentive.
  • Does the government have systems to evaluate the scheme especially to ensure it is not being misused and doing more harm than good that it intends to do?
  • I have come to understand that Rs.50,000/- is sometimes more that a poor persons life long savings. So what is clear is that it is a large sum. If so then why just because someone is disabled should they receive such a large sum as a grant to just either save or spend away? Will this he sum be not better utilized in make the disabled person more self sufficient probably by running a small business etc. 
  • Similar schemes are already running to encourage marriage with a ST/SC. If that is the route taken to include the ST/SC then why is it so automatically though right to adopt for the disabled, just because both groups have been marginalized or is it because it’s easier to demand alms on that pretext? Aren’t the needs of a disabled person unique and different from a non disabled person even if they happen to belong to ST/SC category?

Well I think my contention is not as much as the government giving 50k to disabled people as much as it is about giving it on the pretext of marriage. But with the small reaction I have seem in general about this scheme, I realize the double standards we the disabled people live with. The very same issues and thoughts that seems wrong and unacceptable to us as individuals are acceptable or even good for a disadvantaged person – why just because they will get some free money???

As I said I am confused. I admit I am ignorant about life of under privileged disabled people and I may be entirely wrong in my discussion, but I would really appreciate view points to understand better.

 

written by Shivani Gupta

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