Coronavirus-news December 9, 2020
New CBM study reveals extent of India’s disabled community’s struggle during lockdown
A new study by CBM reveals that 80% of India’s disabled population was left struggling when it came to accessing basic resources during the Covid months-long lockdown. The findings, say disability rights activists, reflect the ground reality and full extent of the marginalisation of people with disabilities. That’s the focus on #StoryOfTheWeek.
India’s disabled community are still struggling to make ends meet as Covid pandemic grips the country badly. A new study by CBM India, Indian Institute of Public Health Hyderabad and Humanity & Inclusion reveals some alarming details about how the community was affected. Their study shows how months-long lockdown left disabled people struggling to access basic resources. 80 percent of them had to borrow or request for support for food to meet their financial constraints. There were numerous reports on how disabled people have been the most affected during lockdown and this latest study clears the air.
Deprived of basic amenities
For 30-year-old Taufeeq* (name has been changed), an amputee who hails from Hyderabad, the lockdown had many surprises. Taufeeq who used to work as a daily wage worker in a hotel in the city lost his job. He had to then rely on the food and groceries sponsored by NGOs and other kind-hearted people during lockdown. But clearly that wasn’t a permanent solution to his problems. In spite of knocking many doors for a job, Taufeeq who also has mobility issues, found it hard to meet expenses. There are thousands of people like Taufeeq who are awaiting for a difference to be made to their lives, but do not know how.
The latest study was conducted in Delhi, Odisha, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam. Sample size for the survey was 403.
While some stated that basic amenities like drinking water was affected, others had their pensions denied. Many did not have access to medicines since they couldn’t travel anywhere. Some others had to postpone their scheduled medical appointments. Having to undergo surgeries as part of their physical conditions, many couldn’t do that either. 59.4 percent couldn’t access rehabilitation services which are important for people with physical limitations.
Voices from the disabled community
Vasundhara Koppula, a wheelchair user and prominent disability rights activist from Telangana says that political leaders nor the government hears plight of the disabled community.
“I feel there are no solutions to problems faced by disabled people as long as government and concerned authorities turn their heads towards us. There is no proper administration. There are no representatives from the disabled community in politics who can talk about our needs and requirements. When there is no one to rectify mistakes that has been going on for years, it will continue happening. Basic ground level facilities are not taken care of”, she says.
Kamaraj M, a disability rights activist based in Trichy at Tamil Nadu says, “We are facing immense financial constraints. Instead of developing milestones in disabled community, as a country, we are going backwards. We did get the monthly grant of Rs 1000 from government. But how can that meagre amount help us to meet ends? Generally, disabled people are struggling for jobs. Lockdown made things worse for us”.