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Enabling the disabled to flourish with dignity - My Take by Nipun Malhotra

July 31, 2017

In My Take this week, Nipun Malhotra, talks about the Equal Opportunity Awards that promote employment of PwD, and the removal of all barriers so they can live with dignity.

My reasons for launching the Equal Opportunity Awards in 2014 were personal. When I was doing my Masters in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, I sat through interviews for placements in many companies. I got to see firsthand the kinds of discrimination that people with disabilities face when they are looking for work.

Many companies doubted my ability because I was on a wheelchair, and in the case of one company, after seven rounds of interviews I could not join for lack of a disabled-friendly toilet.

All this was very humiliating and it set me thinking about how one could change the mindset, and that is how the idea of the awards was born.

In the first year, we gave the awards to Lemontree Hotels and St Stephens' College. Gradually we felt the need to open these awards to more organizations, and support companies that employ PwD.

Apart from employment, innovation is helping PwD live in an inclusive environment, which is necessary. There are many organizations that are empowering them in different ways. So we started to look at companies that are looking at disabled people as customers or clients. The third category is that of disabled entrepreneurs, people who have started a venture something despite their disability.

This year, Microsoft has come on board which is a very positive development. We have a completely independent jury, with people from the disability sector as well as other fields.

What is encouraging is that issues related to disability are at least being talked about and debated. This was not the case 10 years ago. For instance, when the protests over the GST on assistive aids came up, we got huge media support.

The main reason is that organizations are innovating for people with disabilities. Overall, there is a market and business case for including people with disabilities as employees and consumer of services, and all this is creating greater visibility for the disabled.

About the Writer

Nipun Malhotra is the co-founder and CEO of Nipman Foundation, an organization that works to promote health, dignity and happiness for PwD. The Equal Opportunity Awards were instituted by him in 2014.

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