Get-hooked December 26, 2020
#NewzHook2020 – 5 Change-makers of 2020
When the times are tough, the tough get going. 2020 was certainly a tough year but that seems to have brought out the best in many people. Take a look at these stories of ordinary people who rose above their own struggles to reach out and support the larger community.
Lockdown led to Chandrakant Wankhede, a visually impaired resident of rural Maharashtra, losing his means of livelihood. Chandrakrant would support his family by selling toys on trains but with all transport coming to a halt after the lockdown he was completely dependent on central government support. When that did not reach him and other disabled residents of his village, he mobilised the community through Hamaari Vaani, EnAble India‘s rural social networking platform and ensured that the Covid relief promised everyone.
“Through the platform we were able to come together and put pressure on the local authorities and make sure that people with disabilities who were the worst affected were able to get support” – Chandrakant Wankhede
The postponement of Paralympics 2020 was a huge disappointment to India’s para badminton coach Gaurav Khanna, widely credited with popularising the game in India. He made sure India’s para badminton champs stayed in touch with the game through the lockdown and even started India’ first academy exclusively for para badminton players. The Gaurav Khanna Excelia Badminton Academy launched in Lucknow in December.
This is a long cherished dream that has come true. So far, para badminton players have had to train in spaces alongside able bodied players. Now, they have a dedicated space. – Gaurav Khanna, Para Badminton Coach, India
Bihar held its first Assembly elections this year. It was historic because it was held during lockdown and was the first Assembly election in this state after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 was enacted. Ensuring accessibility while maintaining social distancing norms is not easy and Harsh Raj, a disability rights activist, had his work cut out. From visiting different booths to working closely with the State Disability Commissioner, hHarsh monitored the efforts closely, efforts that won him an award from the Bihar government.
“While working with the Disability Commissioner in Bihar, I realised how disabled people are just not recognised by political parties. Caste and religion are factors but not disabled people when they are the most vulenrable. i want to change this” – Harsh Raj, Disability rights activist
Vineet Saraiwala, Inclusion Lead, Big Bazaar used the lockdown to bring a longstanding dream come alive. Called Atypical Advantage, he started India’s first platform for people with disabilities.
“This is a platform that aims to empower these individual artists so they can empower people across the country” – Vineet Saraiwala, Founder, Atypical Advantage
Traveling as a woman with disability is not impossible even during the lockdown, proves Parvinder Chawla. This wheelchair user wet driving across India and has posted videos of her experiences on social media.
“India may not be fully accessible, but people have done out of their way to help me and I have had some beautiful experiences. We have to be fearless and that comes from faith”. – Parvinder Chawla, Wheelchair traveler