Access to Special Civic Facilities is a Right of Every Disabled Citizen
We know we have failed our disabled citizens, when a woman had to carry her husband on her back for weeks, to get him a wheelchair. The plight of Bimla Devi of Mathura, is a cruel example of the struggle faced by disabled citizens of this country and their family members.
Why is it that healthcare and benefits for them not a social and civic priority for us?
Government Officials who watched Bimla’s Plight and did nothing should be ashamed
According to Disabled Persons in India: A statistical profile 2016, 2.68 crore Indians are disabled, as per 2011 census. Also, the percentage of disabled to the total population increased from 2.13% in 2001 to 2.21% in 2011. Yet it was weeks before people noticed that Bimla Devi had to carry her amputee husband on her back, to get a disability certificate. As per a report on NDTV, a free wheelchair from the government hospital requires a disability certificate and she has been doing the rounds of the health centre in Mathura to get one. It was not before the image of Bimla carrying her husband on her back began doing rounds on social media, and grabbed the attention of a minister from UP that Bimla’s husband finally got the certificate.
Our classic “It’s not a problem until it’s my problem”, reflects in our elected representatives and government officials as well. Even in this case, the outrage and action came only after weeks of suffering on Bimla Devi’s part.
How do you bear the sight of a woman carrying her amputated husband on her back day after day, and make no effort to speed up aid for them?
People who made this couple suffer so much deserve some kind of reprimanding to set an example. Surely our government workers can do with a lesson on empathy and sensitivity towards disabled people.
Adequate civic facilities is a right of all citizens, disabled or not
Be it public transport, bus or train stations, or even road crossings. Disabled in India are stuck with poor facilities which should ideally help them to commute on their own. They always have to depend on other people to even cross a road. Disabled people in western countries get facilities like special parking spaces, ramps to board or de-board public transport, or special markings on footpaths, which help them lead an independent life, with their heads held high.
But in India, our failure to aid them to lead an independent life brings nothing but humiliation and frustration to them. We are robbing them of their dignity because we are too caught up in our own struggles to pay attention to them. Isn’t proper facilities, free medical aid, and ability to lead an independent life the right of these 2.68 crore Indians? Also, we as a population cannot dump the blame on governments and authorities entirely. What have we done, to bring the plight of disabled persons to their notice?
Do we even care about their sufferings, unless it starts trending on social media?
But this general indifference is not just limited to adults. Most of us couldn’t care less about the tattered state of education and literacy among disabled. Only 61% of the disabled children aged 5-19 years are attending educational institutions. Also, 54% of the disabled children with multiple disabilities never have attended educational institutions, as per the above-stated report.
Without any proper schooling how will these children be able to secure their future? The avenues for uneducated disabled adults are low paying and sparse.
Poor education and low literacy keep many of them from availing special amenities and schemes, which governments have for their benefit.
Providing wheelchairs at railway stations, ramps at hospitals or reserved seats in public buses is just not enough. We have to take measures to ensure that disabled in our country are able to lead their life with pride. They do not need our sympathy or our pity. They need our support and compassion. We should keep their struggles in mind when planning our public transports, cities, towns, health care and infrastructure, etc. It’s not too late to start caring now. We must ensure that no other person has to go through this kind of trauma.
Picture Credit : azdisabilitylaw
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own