"Hope For a Better Life" – Guest Column by Anu Jain
Born with no legs and arms that end at the elbows, Anu Jain is a painter, photographer and a design artist. She is also among eight artists with disabilities to be selected for the Art for Inclusion project at the India Inclusion Summit 2019. In her column, Anu shares her thoughts about inclusion and accessibility in society.
In a recent episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati, I came across heart-touching stories of two very inspiring ladies named Noopur Chauhan and Sindhutai. Believe me, I couldn’t sleep that night.
And at 3 AM, when everyone at home was asleep, I lay awake, in tears. In my mind, many questions and thoughts were going around related to my own life and the wrong things going on in this world, especially in India.
Over the years I have realised that every other person in this world has some problems in their life. For example, it could be an issue with their work, studies, physical or mental health. Some are financially weak, some are physically weak and some may have mental issues. Does that mean that the whole world is “disabled”? Is that correct?
If no, then why is the word disabled used at all? Why can’t everyone be treated like a normal person? Why isn’t a person wearing specs, having a stent in the heart and people having braces in their teeth also called “disabled”?
Any person can need help, could be someone who is old or sick or someone who has met with an accident. So why is it that only a person having a physical or mental problem is referred to as “disabled”? Why do we need to use words like “disabled” or “physically challenged” and “divyaang” at all? If someone needs help, then why can’t we simply say the “person is in need”? And if one is able to help, then just try to help them without first making them feel miserable and lowly by reminding them of their pains and problems, again and again, in their face. Please think twice – before making this mistake because it hurts a lot.
Don’t show your pity on people who have a problem but give them your helping hand and love 🙂 Don’t become a scraper but become a shield of love and care.
I think, being highly educated that we are, such basic human etiquette and the empathy to treat everyone with dignity should come naturally!
Now that we are so educated and have so much access to technology, then why are trains, buses, roads and footpaths still not accessible for everyone? Still all the trains are not connected to the platform or they don’t have ramps, buses don’t have ramps and seatbelts, our roads don’t have a push-button facility so that old or blind people or a person in a wheelchair can cross them independently, we don’t have footpaths with ramps! Why do our roads have huge drain covers and little mountain-like speed breakers and no warning signboards, is it to cause accidents? Why don’t we have proper traffic signals and strict traffic rules and fines?
We are living in the 21st century, in the world of more educated people and most importantly in the world of technology. But I feel like we are still not able to understand humanity and we don’t know the correct usage of our education and technologies.
Why can’t our civil engineers, architects and builders give it a little thought before constructing buildings and means of transportation? Why can’t we pay some attention and build these in such a way that everyone, and by everyone I mean people who have problems in walking, speaking, hearing or vision can use these facilities without depending on others?
I am saying all this because since my birth I have suffered a lot from all of this and seeing others suffer, hurts me even more. At the least, we should treat everyone with dignity and respect, furthermore, we need to work towards empowering every individual to achieve more and get a fair chance to live a good and fulfilling life. No one should have to depend on others for everything or be a subject of their pity. You wouldn’t want that for yourself under any circumstances, would you? Let’s start with caring more about humanity than money and shiny things.
Today, with the help of technology, we can do so much more for the good of everyone, rather than creating discrimination by using words that hurt and don’t solve the problems. To begin with, we need a little paradigm shift to use technology in making buildings and roads more accessible. Also, guidelines and efforts like this and this should be enforced and encouraged. But this is not just for the government and other agencies alone to do, we each can play our part – help others, but do not pity, root for rules and plans at all levels that ensure inclusivity (it could be as simple as rules within your apartment complex!). Teach your kids tolerance, inclusivity, and kindness. Raise awareness, share stories.
With the help of technology and a little change in attitude, we can truly make this world a more accessible and inclusive place. I hope as we are moving towards “modern India”, there comes a day that I and people like me feel independent and empowered to achieve anything in life!