Today, as India celebrates the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, there lies a stark reality in the form of an alarming statistical account which continues to haunt the country. According to the 2011 Census (2016 updated), 2.21% of India’s total population, that is, 21 million people are disabled, out of which 45 percent are illiterates. Despite the passage of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2012, the rate of exclusion is far away from improvement as 79% schools across the country still do not adhere to inclusive education for the disabled children.
While the disabled population of India already faces an immense degree of exclusion, being illiterate just adds to the pre-existing predicaments, resulting in increased dependency and barrred inclusion. Just as for any other human being, employment and education are correlatedly significant essentials for the disadvantaged section as well. Thankfully, there are stratum of people who do not depend on the state alone but do believe in bringing about the anticipated transformation at hand.
ATULYAKALA- EMPLOYING THE DEAF COMMUNITY…
Atulyakala is one such step towards evolution. It is a Non-Profit Organization in the Indian capital of New Delhi which was founded in 2013. It is among the select few establishments which solely cater towards generating employment for the deaf community.
“Employment opportunities for deaf are less because of lack of proper education, there is a lack of proper education because there are no inclusive schools. We at Atulyakala, focus on generating employment opportunities for the deaf community. Our organization produces lifestyle products all of which are designed by our deaf artists.”, says Oshin Dhawan, the Communication Head at Atulyakala.
70% of employees at Atulyakala are deaf and within just 4 years of its foundation, the NPO has initiated a desire to create something different, with an extraordinary set of people.
DISHA- GIVING DIRECTION TO THE MENTALLY DISABLED…
Founded in 1994, ‘DISHA’ is a school of special education for mentally disabled children aged above 5 years. Based in a small city like Meerut, Disha is one of the first schools to have been set up in Uttar Pradesh, with a desire to take care of the mentally challenged children lest they are crushed by the juggernaut of the society.
“Our son was born in 1983. For years we took him to Delhi for treatment and therapy but soon realised that we must usher something at a local level in our very own city to help more like him”, says Poonam Bansal, wife of one of the founders at Disha.
According to Dr. Anil Bansal, President of the Management Committee at Disha, “One of the biggest and recurring hurdles which we face is that of making the disabled students commute to the school. For this, we have especially recruited staff which would support each child and patiently carry them from one doorstep to the other. We also have vans of our own because no transport companies are willing to collaborate with us”.
At present, Disha has over 120 students who, are given prevocational training in terms of increasing their employability.
EXCLUSIONARY vs RESILIENT SOCIETY
While most of the existing special institutions and NPOs do not fall under the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, India needs broader initiatives with similar intentions like those of Atulyakala and Disha. This resilience will be an encouraging advancement towards re-defiining the word ‘Disabled’as ‘Differently-Abled’, thereby adhering to the this year’s United Nations theme on International Day for Persons with Disabilities, that is, Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all.
Feature Picture Courtesy: Better India