Javed Abidi - Tribute by Dr Som Mittal, Chairman, NCPEDP
In this tribute to Javed Abidi, the disability rights leader who passed away on 18 March this year, Dr Som Mittal, Chairman of National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), talks about his remarkable ability to bring people together.
He, through his persuasion capabilities, through his activism, through his advocacy, I think that’s the big change he made. So while there are a lot of people helping the individual disabilities like the blind and the deaf, Javed actually probably was the only one who was doing it across disabilities. And I think his ability to have influenced at the larger level, which is required, I think was the biggest thing.
Whether it was the changes in the Act, whether it was the Census, you know I wouldn’t be able to name because there were many individual ones that were very important, which also include things like changing the National Building Code, which is so important.
Having worked with him in the last 10 years, I saw him. He would never take a no for an answer. I think that was one big capability of his. He would be at it. He might be angry, he might be disappointed, which he often was. He was shocked at the apathy that all of us have towards the disabled but then he would be always at it.
When you do things selflessly, you obviously win people. And he represented not one single disability, which is probably what happens today through so many people who are doing such a wonderful job. But he represented them across. And he would speak with passion for them you know at every stage, he would fight for their cause. And I think there are very few people who are crusaders like him.
And that’s why I think the shock value of his passing away at this untimely time because it’s not easy to replace and get champions like him. That’s why we are all feeling so sad and hurt.
I must have sent out over 100 letters in the last 2 days to people who have been associated with us, not just people from the disability sector, but outside, and the outpouring of support we have got to his cause has been just amazing. So people haven’t just been sending normal condolence messages about family and so on. They have actually written saying they are re-committing to the cause, that Javed stood for, which I think has been really heartening.