Accessibility December 26, 2019
#PowerOfOne – P Narahari is on a mission to make Madhya Pradesh disabled-friendly
P Narahari is Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Public Relations Department and Managing Director, Madhyam, in the Madhya Pradesh government. 43-year-old Narahari has won over 40 awards, many of them honouring his efforts to build a barrier-free environment. He truly represents the #PowerOfOne.
As a class 10 student, P Narahari felt the desire to help underprivileged people. Born in a humble background in Basantnagar, Karimnagar district, Telangana, Narahari studied in a village school. He used to volunteer for Akshara Ujwala, an adult literacy programme. Every day, after school ended, Narahari and his classmates would teach basic literacy skills to the elders.
An attitude that defines the 43-year-old IAS officer’s career. Of this 10 years were spent as collector in many districts across Madhya Pradesh.
It’s about compassion towards vulnerable sections of society. Disabled people are among the most marginalised. As a Collector in Seoni district in 2007-08, I saw many mentally disabled people tied with chains at their homes. Their family members saw them as burdens. We started working with them and made sure that state pension schemes for people with such disabilities reached the families and the attitude changed. I get a lot of inner happiness in working for the disabled community. – P Narahari, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Public Relations Department /Managing Director, Madhyam, Government of Madhya Pradesh
Committed to accessibility for disabled people
As collector, Narahari he would identify people from different government departments, private organisations, colleges, etc who were committed to achieving the goal of a barrier-free environment. They were then trained by experts. “We have building codes that specify the infrastructure needed for a barrier-free environment. We educated various organisations on these specifications” This included public facilities that disabled people depend on for daily activities like buses and trains. Regular audits are done with action taken against those who do a poor job.
Larger sensitisation towards disabled people
Narahari would also hold public awareness in various districts while he was in charge. This was to create awareness about schemes and initiatives for the benefit of disabled people. Parents’ associations were also formed in different tehsils to train parents of disabled children on how to look after them well.
As Gwalior collector, he organised a training programme called Paanch Sparsh for blind people where they were trained for activities like massages and acupuncture that require high touch sensitivity. There were regular jan sunvaai or public hearings where disabled people could get their complaints heard.
Available to hear complaints & issues voiced by disabled people
It was at such a hearing in 2011 that Satendra Singh, the well-known disabled swimmer, first met Narahari. “At that time, I was looking for a job and support to continue with my swimming. I wanted to join a computer course but didn’t have the money to pay the fees. Narahari sir organised the fees for me”. Satendra kept in touch and a year later, he informed Narahari he had got a job. “He was so happy he had tears in his eyes. He called me to his house and said he would support me to the best of his efforts.”
Satendra says this approach has changed the lives of disabled people in Madhya Pradesh. “Narahari sir has made banks accessible and thanks to him you see disabled people outdoors. His office is open to everyone and the rule is that no one can be stopped from entering his office”.
Thanks to Narahari’s support, Satendra was able to achieve his goal of swimming the English Channel, with Narahari even posting a public appeal for funds on his Facebook page.
A sensitivity and commitment that is truly remarkable and rare to find. “He is like a god to me”, says Sakshi, a student in Indore. With Narahari’s help, she was able to sit for the civil services exam as he got the coaching centre to waive the fees.
Narahari says he is just doing his duty. “As administrators, it is our role to encourage the full potential in a person. I see every person on earth as a human resource that should be harnessed”.
P Narahari has received over 40 awards, most of them recognising his efforts to promote barrier-free environment and open defection free initiatives. This includes the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2017 in recognition of his work for disabled people.
He gets his satisfaction, not from the awards, but from knowing that he has been able to touch many lives.
“My happiest moment is when someone I have helped without even realising it has come up to me and said they are leading a good life today because of something I did. That makes me very happy”.
- Delhi Disabilities Commissioner T D Dhariyal believes in tough action, not just words
- Kerala Social Security Mission head Mohammed Asheel says helping disabled people his true calling
- VS Basavaraju’s devotion to Karnataka’s disabled people is absolute
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