Essay contest: DISABLED FRIENDLY PUNE –VISION 2020 Organized by EKansh Trust. And the winners are:
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
FIRST PRIZE Rs: 5000/-
Medha Arora, Delhi Public School, Pune
“A disability is what you have, not who you are.”
Disability is a wide term that is associated with differently-abled people. People who are born with or acquire physical, sensory, functional or mental hinders. These hampers make them different from us in some way. But it is unfair to measure everyone by the same yardstick. Everybody has something that makes them exceptional, that makes them unlike others. If we unblock our minds, and look beyond the differences, we find that life isn’t black or white. People with disabilities are an integral part of our world and give it color.
Disabled people are regarded as liabilities, as burdens, as impediments among mankind. They’re undeservingly labeled, disgraced and ostracized in society just for being different. They are portrayed in stereotypical, imprecise and degrading ways which limit their aspirations. And that is where the greatest disability lies, in our minds, in the inability to see a person as more than what meets the eye. They aren’t afflictions, they are persons with disabilities, humans just like us. There are countless examples like Arunima Sinha, Stephen Hawking and many more whose disabilities have never held them back from fulfilling their dreams.
In the eyes and mind of the disabled, we’re the crippled ones. Handicapped in our mentality towards them. It is us, the youth of this country who need to change our outlook and give this minority the opportunities they have been declined for so long. In order to do so, we should place ourselves in their shoes, envisage their difficulties and introduce the required changes. It is imperative that information regarding rights of all categories of disabilities should be made readily available for them to read in print or Braille. For instance, we can make public places easily accessible by constructing toilets and ramps for the handicapped. A restaurant with a no-pets policy must make an exception for service dogs. In our country, we lack the availability of supermarkets that cater to their basic needs of buying necessary equipment like medical and disability products at reasonable prices from reputable suppliers. These mobility aids and other useful assistive devices for around the home are designed to enhance the lives of the disabled and those with mobility challenges. Visual, hearing and tactile aids should be placed in libraries, post offices, schools etc. to ensure self-reliance rather than dependency. lf someone has a hearing impairment and sign language is the primary means of communication, a lawyer, a doctor, or other professional must pay for and provide a sign language interpreter. A qualified interpreter must be able to listen, understand, and explain what has been said to both the professional and to the individual with a hearing impairment. Instead of creating only special schools, regular schools should be encouraged to have more facilities to accommodate children with special needs. Their integration at school level is most important for them to adjust as an adult in the real world. As a part of corporate social responsibility, companies should be encouraged to fund for better medical and paramedical facilities for the disabled. Initiating methods like these will give them a sense of belonging, and pave way for their colorful place in this black and white society.
Diversity is what makes us dissimilar, that makes us unlike two peas in a pod. That adds a little more spark to this otherwise bleak world. We need to learn how to embrace this diversity to make India a disabled-friendly country.
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
Second prize Rupees 3000/-
Sejal ShahSchool: Vibgyor High International School, NIBM, Pune
Our family friends’ son has Down syndrome. I was hesitant to meet him, not knowing what to expect and how he would behave. When I did meet him though, I saw an adorable, active and lovable little boy. In the right environment, he was thriving; the signs of the disorder were barely there.
Could we not provide this ‘right’ environment to all of India’s disabled people? Can we envision something more than a ‘Sugamya Bharat’ or Accessible India? My vision is “Inclusive India” where our society benefits from the capabilities and output of our differently abled citizens. It is to bring into the mainstream 21 million citizens while, at the same time, giving them the tools and support for an independent, self-confident and self-respecting life.
Imagine a country where a person’s disability is as accepted as a person’s receding hairline or a slightly portly appearance. For decades, we have supposed that the discrimination and lack of opportunity were to be expected as part of being disabled. This presumption has been ingrained into the way we function. We do not give the disabled the opportunity to try, with the confidence that they will fail. We need to counter this. When a child is born a parent does not need to be distraught with worry at the future of their kid. When a person’s vision starts to go, they do not need to stop work. When a person meets with an accident, they do not need to give up their dreams.
Achieving this requires many concrete steps. The government of India has already set the stage to insist on bringing about the change. They have made the necessary legislative changes. They have declared public facilities in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities around India to be disabled friendly by this July.
It is undeniable that this infrastructure is fundamentally important to aid our goal. However, when we add a ramp it cannot be an afterthought, it has to be planned. We have to put ourselves in place of the user. And accessibility is more than ramps and elevators. A disability refers to a physical, sensory or mental limitation that interferes with a person's ability to move, see, hear or learn. We need to recognize this. We must take steps to help all of them.
Furthermore, we need to include an ecosystem within which we cater to the challenges for the disabled individual and their caregivers. Where, as soon as the tragedy occurs, we work on integrating (or reintegrating) them into society. I see a three-step process:
1. Understanding: explaining the full effects and repercussions in an easy to understand
way to the concerned.
2. Equipping: providing the necessary tools and knowledge to deal with the disability.
3. Peer Support: engaging the disabled in an active community where others similarly
diagnosed can share experiences.
But this is not nearly enough. How do we transform our society from those that shun the disabled to one that accepts them? It is our responsibility to uplift and change the social mindset while dispelling stigmas. We need a determination to ensure support and self-reliance for our disabled citizens. We need a transformation to accept and include differently enabled people into our midst.
To find this transformation, and to empower the differently abled, we need to make the public care enough. This can be done by a variety of methods. One, we need to raise awareness. A social media campaign modeled after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge would be both feasible and beneficial. Two, we need to remove the curiosity and mystery of disabilities. Three, we need to provide the disabled a forum where they can complain when discriminated against. We need to publicize these complaints, and name the offenders.
We all stand to gain by achieving success with Sugamya Bharat. By excluding the special needs, we could have already have lost out. History stands as a witness: Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Stephen Hawking- all were disabled. Making India accepting and inclusive is in everyone’s interests. Maybe one day, our own disabled citizens may become the pride
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
Third prize Rupees 2000/-
Saipratyusha Kurucheti : Symbiosis, Viman Nagar, Pune
It was my first day of high school senior year. I knew that my last high school year would be nothing like the others. I was different from the others. And because I was different, I was teased and bullied often. I couldn’t speak. I was in no way normal like the other kids. I felt like pulling the covers over my head and staying in bed for the rest of my life. It seemed like the whole world was against me even though my parents and the teachers kept encouraging me.
My life was in ruins till he came that day. cc. He caught my eye and smiled. I smiled back. But I knew that that was temporary because many new kids used to come to my school and were very nice but once they figured out I couldn’t speak, it was like I had caught a disease. They practically ran away from me. The dark cloud settled back on my head. I was going to my next class when he suddenly was walked beside me. I ducked my head in shame and defeat because I knew what followed later, a lot of bullying and torture. He greeted me and I just nodded back and ran away as if the air caught on fire.
The next class I had was English and after I went and sat in one of the front benches in class, seconds later he came through. When he came through, his eyes held an intense emotion of sadness and pity. I couldn’t understand what he heard that made him so emotional. When he sat right next to me, I stiffened immediately. A paper with beautiful handwriting slid onto my desk. I looked at him questioningly. He jerked his chin towards the paper. So I looked at the paper and was severely shocked for a moment. I hung my head in embarrassment after I registered what he said. He wrote, “You shouldn’t stand back and let others bully you. It isn’t your fault so stand strong against them.”He lifted my chin up with his index finger and shook his head in the way you would say no. He started writing on the paper and encouraged me to write back. That was how I got my first friend.
We got to know more about each other every day. He was like my bodyguard and accompanied me everywhere I went. He didn’t let others talk rudely to me. The others slowly stopped teasing and bullying me and some of the others came and apologized amiably. My parents and all the teachers were particularly happy that I was getting along well with others. I was explicitly ecstatic myself. The more ordinary my life became the closer me and Ian became. We were the Inseparable. Graduation was getting closer and I wanted to express my gratitude towards Ian for helping me. So I wrote a speech that I would ask someone else to read.
I was a bundle of nerves when graduation day arrived. I asked a teacher to vocalize the speech I wrote. Once everyone was seated, I walked to the dais and stood near the poem next to the teacher assisting me. When I was writing it, I let my feelings flow into words. I didn’t hold anything back. Once the teacher started reciting what I wrote a very deafening silence took over. I knew right then that we had everyone’s attention. I shared my feelings.”Thanks to Ian, I am here today. If I hadn’t met him I doubt I’d be standing here today. I may not be able to speak like you but I have the same feelings like you do. I always wanted to have a normal life which I hadn’t achieved till Ian came. He entered my life like the sun radiating light through the darkness of my life. He was hope. This year that I spent with proved to be the best times I have ever had. I learnt many things that I am sure will be essential for me later on. If I hadn’t met Ian i would’ve never learnt, how to fight back, how to make friends, learn that I am different from the others but not in a bad way. I learnt not to degrade myself from the others. I may have a disability but that does mean I am very different from the human species. And I would also like to tell the others, I do have a disability, I cannot speak but that does not mean I am not one of you. I would say that I am proud that even with a disability I am able to pursue a normal life. I am in dept to Ian because without him I would’ve got lost in this sea. Thank you for accepting me the way I am.” As soon as the teacher finished reciting, the room burst into claps and cheers. Ian came and hugged me tight. I cried for the first time with tears of joy. My life changed. And now I finally am content with the way it is.
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA – VISION 2020
FIRST PRIZE IN MARATHI: Rupees 5000/-
युसुफ खान सी आर रंगनाथान निवासी कर्णबधीर विद्यालय , पुणे
विषय : २०२० च्या दृष्टीकोनातून अपंगांच्या साठी अनुकूल भारत.
हर शाम देखा जा सकता है
उस बच्चे के चेहरे पर एक उतावलापन,
बाहर जाकर खेलने का, दुसरे बच्चो के साथ,
जो रात होते हि लुप्त हो जाता ठ,
फिर मां उसके छोटे छोटे पांवोको सजाकर
पलंग पर सुला देती थी
वरील काही ओळीतून आपल्याला एका अपंग मुलाच्या मुलाच्या मनातील भाव-भावनांबद्दल आणि विचारांबद्दल जाणीव होते. अपंग म्हणून जन्माला येण्यामध्ये, त्या मुलाची काय चूक असते? कदाचित एखादा अवयव रुपी दागिना निसर्गानी त्यांना कमी दिला असेल. इतरांपेक्षा तो काही गोष्टीत तो कमी गतिमान असू शकतो. २००१ च्या जनगणनेनुसार २०१९ कोटी व्यक्ती अपंग आहेत. त्यातील ७५% व्यक्ती या ग्रामीण भागात राहतात. पण अपंग आहेत म्हणून या व्यक्ती कोणत्याही क्षेत्रात मागे राहिल्या नाहीत. यातील ४९% व्यक्ती या साक्षर असून, ३४% लोकांना रोजगार उपलब्ध आहे. हि आकडेवारी आजच्या तारखेस वाढलेली देखील असू शकते. आपला समाज आणि आपले सरकार यांच्या मदतीने आता या अपंग व्यक्ती ताठ मानेने जगताना आपल्याला दिसून येतात. अपंगत्वामुळे खचून न जाता, आपल्या बुद्धीचा आणि क्षमतेचा योग्य आणि पूर्ण उपयोग करताना आपल्याला दिसतात. सरकारी कर्मचारी म्हणून देखील कामे करताना आपल्याला ह्या अपंग व्यक्ती आढळून येतात. अपंग व्यक्ती देखील आता मानसिक दृष्ट्या सक्षम होवू लागले आहेत. आता त्यांना प्रोत्साहन देणे, वेगवेगळी उदाहरणे देणे, दाखले देवून प्रेरित करणे हे समाजव्यवस्थेचा जबाबदार नागरिक म्हणून आपले काम आहे. असे केल्यानी अपंगत्व हा शाप आहे आसे कोणाला वाटणार नाही.
शासनाकडून देखील अपंगांना प्रोत्साहन म्हणून ,किंवा समाजात सगळ्यांच्या बरोबरीने चालण्यासाठी बराचश्या योजना राबवल्या जातात . त्यात अपंगत्वाचा दाखल देणे , सायकल ,गाडी इत्यादी वस्तूंचे वाटप . तसेच अपंगाच्या इतर योजना यांचा त्यांना आधार आहे . आपल्या भारतामध्य अपंग लोकांना मदत करण्यासाठी अनेक संस्था देखील कार्यरत अहित .
डॉ हॉकिन्स , लुई ब्रेल , हेलेन केलर या सारखी अशी अनेक उदाहरणे या अपंग व्यक्तींमध्ये प्रेरणादाई आहेत .त्यनचे बुद्धी आणि जगाकडे पाहण्याचा वेगळा आणि चिकित्सक दृष्टीकोण याच्या जोरावर त्यानी मोठा लौकिक मिळवला आहे .
आपल्या संविधानामध्ये सर्व नागरिकांना समानता आणि स्वतंत्रता देण्यात आली आहे . राष्ट्रीय , शैक्षणीक धोरणात सुद्धा अपंग व्यक्तींबद्दल धोरणे ठरवण्यात आले आहेत जर आपला समाज ,सरकार, आपला देश आपल्याला एवढं प्रोत्साहन देत असॆल तर अपंग व्यक्तींनी देखील आता मागे राहून नाही चालणार .
" काल्पर्येंत तुम्ही म्हणायचात नशीब
आम्ही पण म्हणायचो नशीब
पण आता आमचा आमच्यावर विश्वास आहे
तुम्ही खुशाल पूजा त्या कज्व्याल…… कारण
तो सुर्यच आता आमचा श्वास आहे. "
आज अपंग मुलं - मूली I T I , computer ,MSCIT या सारखे कोर्स उत्तेर्ण होत आहेत २१ व्या शतकाच्या सुखातीला तांत्रिक प्रगती , संगणक आणी मोबाईल तसॆच इंटर्नेट याच्या वापरामुळे समाजात बदल घडून येत आहेत . पूर्वीच्या काळी अपंगांना शिक्षण , व्यावसाय इत्यादिन पासून वंचीत रहावे लागत असॆ ज़्यना बोलता येत नाही ,ऐकू येत नाही , दिसत नाही, एखादा अवयव निकामी आहे, बुद्धी कमी आहे अशा अशा सर्वानाच सतत कमी लेखले जाई , त्यांचा सतत अपमान होत असॆ . अपंग म्हणून एखाद्याने जन्माला येणे हा जणू पूर्व जन्मीचा शाप आहे असे मानले जाई . परंतू आता त्या मानाने सर्वच क्षेत्रात मोठ्या जन-जग्रूती होताना दिसते . असे असताना शासनाने सर्वांनाच शिक्षणाच्या समान संधी देउन शिक्षणाची दारे उघडी करून दयावीत . अपंग मुले देखील ईतर सर्व सामान्य मुलांप्रमाणे स्वतःच्या पायावर उभी राहू शकतात आणि आपले जीवन जगू शकतील .
अर्थात या सगळ्यासाठी पालकांची भूमिका देखील खूपच महत्वाची आहे. या मुलांना सतत प्रोत्साहन देणे, त्यांच्या सोयीची भाषा शिकणे, त्यांना समजून घेणे, कधीही हर न मानता सतत त्यांचे मत, आवड, छंद जाणून घेवून त्यांना पुठे जाण्यासाठी प्रवृत्त करणे गरजेचे आहे. अपंगांसाठीच्या सोयी-सुविधांचा योग्य वापर करणे गरजेचे आहे. माझ खर्च हे स्वप्न आहे कि हि सर्व अपंग मुले आपल्या स्वत:च्या कर्तृत्वावर, हुशारीवर २०२० पर्यंत उच्च शिक्षण घेवून, स्वत:च्या नोकरी व्यवसायांत स्थिर होतील. गाड्या चालवतील, तंत्रद्यानाचा जास्तीत जास्त उपयोग करून यशस्वी वाटचाल करतील.