Being a part of something bigger than yourself
Thursday, December 4, 2008
World Disability Day, Delhi, 2008. There was a Dharna called for at the India Gate with three main demands.
- Each Ministry to have a clear cut plan on disability
- Each Ministry to allocate 3% resources on disability issues as mandated in the XIth plan
- Government to set up a separate Ministry for Disability
I have been disabled for the last 16 years. I have been working in the disability sector for the last 12 years with a complete urban experience only. I participated in the Dharna half heartedly. At the back of my mind there were apprehensions and unwillingness to be a part of such an activity.
I reached there with my colleagues and friends. We purposefully went an hour late as I thought no one will be there on time anyways. By the time we reached there the venue was packed up with over 10,000 people. I had never seen such a large crowd of people and let alone disabled people. There were people from all states of India – disabled people; grassroots workers; friends and family of disabled people. They all had one cry ‘Viklang Ekta Zinda Baad’ (Hail to disabled unity!)
I was completely shaken by the fact that there were these groups of disabled people who had traveled from small villages to Delhi to demand their basic rights. People from southern states wore short lungis that was no protection against the unforgiving Delhi cold. Many of them did not even have a sweater. There were crawlers who must have traveled all the way from their village in our shoddy inaccessible trains. But this seemed insignificant as against their conviction to get their rights. They were all ready to sit through the night in this open venue if required.
When I compared myself, as so called role model (having received several awards), I felt absolutely worthless and uncommitted to a cause I have been working for all these 12 years. My concerns of poor standards and understanding of Inclusion seemed so trivial in front of their basic demands.
I am humbled by the spirit of all these people and salute their conviction. Each one of them was a true inspiration and a role model to me.
written by Shivani Gupta