Education January 20, 2021
Evaluate Me by My Body of Work, Not my Body
A web talk was organised by prestigious Loreto College of Kolkata in collaboration with Sruti Disability Rights Centre on January 18th 2021. Titled “Nothing is Impossible” the talk had three panellists with different kinds of disabilities talking about their journey to success and beyond. The conversations highlighted that it is sheer hard work and positive mindset which enables a person with disability to reach a certain level of achievement. The concept of “Super Achievers” is a misconceived notion. The barriers are not just structural but social and attitudinal too. In this blog, I will write about what Dr. Bubai Bag who was the first speaker of the event had to share.
Bubai Bag comes from a small village named Kamardaha in Howrah district of West Bengal. His mother worked in a pen factory asnd father was an agricultural worker. No one either in his village or the three other surrounding villages had completed college education before him. With 80% disability, he could complete his PhD from a renowned Jadavpur University. He talked about how he used to crawl to his school during childhood days and later on to his class-room during University days. He mentioned that he never felt humiliated in crawling up the staircase as he felt that “If I reach the class-room like this, I will be able to sit next to other students and listen to the lectures”. For him, thirst of knowledge was much more important than feeling shy or awkward. He chose to research on the History of Disability Movement in Bengal in his MPhil and PhD because as a history student he felt that though his curriculum included history of other marginalised groups, history of disabled people has not even been written on.
Dr. Bag now teaches at Bagnan College. One thing that came out in his presentation was very clear. Even after getting award of State Role Model for Disabled Persons, perception of people about disabled has not changed. Even now, as an academic, he has to prove himself more than his non-disabled counterparts. Dr. Bag’s has an excellent academic record. But despite that, if he makes a small error, his colleagues are quick to draw attention towards the “quota” through which he got the job. Even the students casually call him “Khora Sir” meaning “The Crippled Sir” when they discuss about him. He painfully observes that however good he teaches, whatever research he completes, his identity within the academia will always remain “the disabled one”.
He concluded by saying “I am not shy of my disability but academia should not evaluate my work by my orthopaedic impairments but judge by my body of work” One hopes society listens to these marginalised voices and rectify itself. Otherwise measures of positive discrimination in our laws are meaningless.
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