India has around 70 million people with a disability. Yet most of the population doesn’t consider what that means for them as individuals and for the country as a whole. The major barrier facing physically disabled people continues to be stereotype assumptions about their abilities. This has resulted in far too few physically disabled people integrating, studying or working in Indian society.
“Never ignore somebody with a disability; you don’t realise how much they can inspire you.” – Anonymous
Despite being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India still suffers from poor attitudes and prejudice against those with disabilities. Even worse, ideas that disability is karma-related or a curse from God are still prevalent. These notions fuel bad behaviour towards disabled citizens, extending to intolerance at key events such as childbirth and weddings. The extent of prejudice often depends on the type and severity of the condition. Conversely, with numerous cultures of religion, belief and superstition continuing across India, many saw the plight of Lakshmi Tatma, who was born with eight limbs, as a reincarnation of the Hindu Goddess after which she was named. This demonstrates a widespread problem within the population. Indiability sees this as a matter of national shame.
Disabled people face many social challenges throughout their lives, including levels of independence, educational and employment opportunities, mobility problems and discrimination. However, having a physical impairment is not the end of the world. Disabled people have proven abilities, can still earn a decent income and deserve equal opportunities in all aspects of life. Support from family, friends and the community is essential to help them integrate into the mainstream and be accepted for who they are.
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” – Martina Navratilova (Former World No. 1 Women Tennis Player)
Through better understanding, things are changing slowly in India and people are becoming more sensitive to their fellow citizens. Around the beginning of the new millennium, official attitudes changed. However, more must be done to create a better understanding of the potential of everyone in our society, including those with disabilities.
Trying to understand disability can be confusing. Definitions can be misleading and lead to labels, creating more harm than good. Some include terms for severely, or registered disabled people such as The Disability Discrimination Act (UK) which needs to facilitate support to only those who qualify.Only 13% of the disabled population in India would be classified as severely disabled. The majority of individuals classified as disabled are affected by conditions that are largely non-limiting and in the developed world would not be an obstacle to their full participation and success in society. But in India ANY disability or limitation can be dehabilitating.
“I choose not to place ‘DIS’ in my ability.” – Robert M. Hensel (Guinness World-Record Holder)
Indiability is striving for better awareness and understanding of disability amongst both disabled and able-bodied people. We want to make a nationwide impact at community and corporate level by sharing information and holding demonstrations. We aim to change society’s attitudes to inspire greater tolerance, and to encourage workplaces and public services to include people with disabilities.
– Robert M. Hensel (Guinness World-Record Holder)