Accessibility August 6, 2018
This Kolkata resident is battling bureaucracy for reserved parking for disabled people
Mohammed Asif Iqbal, has never let blindness come in the way of achieving his academic and career goals.
Now this associate director with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Kolkata has taken on the bureaucracy. Iqbal is fighting to to make reserved parking for people with disabilities the norm in public places in the city.
Iqbal has been meeting meeting everyone he can to support a campaign he started two years ago in this regard. He even went to the home of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to meet her. However, he was not successful and let a letter for her to which she is yet to respond.
Iqbal has a strong supporter in the ruling party, Trinamul Congress. That is MP and Harvard professor Sugata Bose. Bose wrote to chief minster and said that Iqbal had a strong case for dedicated disabled parking in public places.
Iqbal decided to campaign for this after he visited the Calcutta Municipal Corporation headquarters in 2016. His driver was unable to park his vehicle anywhere nearby and Iqbal had to walk over a kilometre to reach the civic headquarters.
Iqbal, who was born in Bihar, had impaired vision at birth. This kept deteriorating as he grew older and he went totally blind by the age of 16. He was living in the United States at the time, where people with disabilities don’t commonly face the problems that they do in India.
After returning to India, he realised how disabled-friendly public amenities in the United States make life easier for such people.
He is upset that such little thought is given to disabled people back home. In Kolkata, stations like Howrah and Sealdah, that are used by lakhs of people every day don’t have accessible parking for anyone with a disability.
Iqbal has many achievements to his credit. He is the first blind commerce graduate from St Xavier’s College. He also filed a public interest litigation in 2000 that led to reservation for people with disabilities in the Indian Institute of Managements.
As an employee of PwC India, he is involved in digital accessibility initiatives with the Centre and state governments. He has helped to make the Aadhaar project inclusive and the process of filing online income tax returns more disabled-friendly.
He is determined to keep working towards making the future for people with disabilities brighter in India.
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