Satyamev Jayate’s sixth episode highlighted the trials and tribulations of people who are disabled (the politically correct ‘differently-abled’ is considered an insult by many). It highlighted the various problems people with disabilities face and how easily it can be overcome only if society were a little more considerate and aware of their needs.
The first guest was a Sai Prasad Vishwanathan who recalled how he was never treated differently by his parents and encouraged to attend normal schools though this was made difficult by the authorities. He said that the biggest problem people with disabilities face are the lack of adequate infrastructure to move around. He explained how different things were in the USA where his university had provided adequate infrastructure for him to move around with any problems.
To check the facilities available for the disabled the Satyamev Jayate team checked various public locations (bus stops, government offices, etc.) to see how easy it was for disabled people to move around. Sadly at most places it was almost impossible.
The next guest was Krishnakant Mane who prefers to be called KK. He lost sight when he was three but never lost his way. He does everything a normal person does including trekking and is a top-grade software engineer whilst doing research work as well. He explained how technology has helped him and felt people should remember two important things 1) Don’t think you’re disabled 2) Stop expecting the world is there for you; it’ll be cruel and kind to you in equal measure. He said it’s wrong to blame the government and society had a role to play in allaying the problems of the disabled.
The show then went on to highlight how hard it is for people with disabilities to get admissions in regular schools. One principal in the audience blamed it on other parents who refused to let their ‘normal’ children mix with children with disabilities.
The show then pondered if it indeed was a challenge to admit disabled children in regular schools. Amar Jyoti School in New Delhi showed it wasn’t and that only some changes need to be made to provide an environment where everyone can be given an equal education.
There is a general consensus among people that disabled people are being ‘punished’ for their sins from a past life. Aamir pointed out the very successful polio eradication campaign and lauded the country’s effort in eradicating the disease, pointing out that past sins had nothing to do with disabilities.
Then the show focussed on various people who’ve fought their disabilities and what can be done to improve their lives.
One example was a young girl called Nisha who suffered from a rare genetic disorder called Lamellar ichthyosis that affects 1 in 6 lakh people. In this condition the skin fails to grow alongwith the body which results in a host of problems. Ketan Kothari of Sight Savers said people needed to change their stereotypical attitude about people with disabilities. He said the term ‘differently abled’ was insulting and there was nothing wrong with calling someone disabled.
Javed Abidi, the director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in India, and the founder of the Disability Rights Group said there were 6 crore disabled people in the country though the government refuses to acknowledge that the numbers are that high. Till 2001, none of the censuses even accounted for disabled people and though the 2001 did take note none of the measures had been implemented. He added that it was fundamental right that was being snatched away and it was a paramount importance in a democracy that everyone should be treated equally. The policies and tax structure pertaining to disabilities needed to reworked as he pointed out it used to cheaper to bring back gold from a foreign country rather than a wheelchair which had a customs duty of around 30-40%. He said the only way to ensure disabled children were included in regular schools was for the University Grants Commision (UGC) to give a notice to all schools and universities to include disabled children in their courses or become unrecognized by the UGC.
He also pointed out the bad employment scenario for disabled people with only 0.4% of them employed in private companies and 0.5% employed by public sector ones. It was simply foolish he added to keep disabled people grounded and not let them contribute to the country’s economy.
Dr Rajendra Joher of the Family of Disabled also highlighted the work he was doing to empower the disabled. Incidentally Dr Joher was deemed bed-ridden for life but he got past his own disability and is now helping others deal with theirs.
Aamir Khan went on to talk to Captain Kamaljeet Brar whose company Designmate employed over 70% disabled people. It’s an e-learning company that employed over 270 disabled employees and was doing very well highlighting the fact that disabled people can make a major contribution to soceity.
The last guest on the show was Joginder Singh Saluja, a disabled bodybuilder and weight lifting champ who started a gym for the disabled because regular gyms denied him entry. The show wrapped up with Aamir asking the audience to write in and support the motion that will force all schools and colleges to become inclusive failing which their UGC status would be revoked.
In the end, Ability Unlimited a group of disabled performers moved everyone with their astounding moves. All in all it was another great episode of Satyamev Jayate focussing on an issue we seldom dwell upon.
First Published: Jun 10, 2012 at 1:23 PM