Prominent figures from films, industry back petition to make Mumbai accessible for people with disabilities
Two petitions in the Bombay High Court by Nisha JamVwal and Abha Singh seem to have finally got municipal authorities in Mumbai to take a serious look at infrastructure and accessibility shortfalls in the financial capital. Not only as it got residents from far corners of the city involved, prominent names from the world of business and movies are backing the petitions. That's our focus on #StoryOfTheWeek.
Some of India's prominent voices from business and films are calling out the major shortcomings that exist when it comes to accessibility infrastructure across the country. Nearly four years after the Accessible India Campaign was launched in a major publicity blitz, basic targets remain unmet.
Two petitions moved in the Bombay High Court by TV anchor-columnist-social entrepreneur Nisha JamVwal and advocate-activist Abha Singh in this regard has led the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to finally step. It has also triggered a citizens movement with people living in the distant suburbs of Mumbai getting involved in the campaign to make Mumbai accessible.
And in a strong show of support, many prominent figures have rallied around as well. Like actress and former Lisa Ray who has issued this statement.
"I fervently support accessibility and strongly believe that India cannot presume itself to be a contemporary, global nation until it prioritises accessibility and inclusiveness for all. Accessibility ramps and access are everywhere and legally protected and enforced in most developed nations I know of. I am in Singapore and this is even more pronounced here. I believe India must take this agenda on urgently and immediately. If India wishes to be viewed as a progressive global nation it must provide accessibility options and inclusivity for all as a normal matter of course - there's no reason not to!"
Bengaluru-based billionaire entrepreneur and Managing Director, Biocon Limited, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said the laws must be enforced more rigorously.
If we claim to be an inclusive society, we must reflect this in our design of public spaces. Denying access to physically challenged citizens because of no wheelchair ramps is unacceptable. The law must be enforced so that ramp access and elevator access in all public spaces. - Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman-Managing Director, Biocon Ltd
Accessibility simply must become priority, feels former actress-model Mahima Choudhary, who insists on a ramp being a part of every residential complex she lives in.
"Is it not just the most basic requirement to have wheelchair accessible stations, sidewalks, buildings, banks and restaurants?", asks Mahima. "It is a basic in every other country of the world, and here in India we need to make this a priority. We are one of the fastest growing economies currently so we must be a sensitive, caring, wheelchair accessible nation. My dear friend Nisha JamVwal has made it her mission for her life in India and I wholeheartedly support her noble cause. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it a mandate and is very sympathetic to the cause of wheelchairs. We must support this cause and make India an inclusive nation".
Actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra believes that changing the design of public spaces is critical to India's progress. "If India must forge ahead as a nation that attracts people from all over the world, we need to be inclusive in our design of public places. City planners, architects and developers of all forms of buildings, pavements, stations and public structures must ensure that the needs of the differently-abled are addressed. If we wish to promote tourism, we must apply forethought when planning new infrastructure and incorporate ramps, accessible restrooms and lifts to ensure access for the differently-abled".
Neil Nitin Mukesh, who is playing the part of a person with disability in his next movie Bypass Road hopes the film will help sensitise the larger public towards the needs of disabled people in public spaces.
"I find through my international travel that ramps, accessible restrooms, handicapped parking, convenient sidewalks with ramps on either side are a matter of course and yet here they not only absent generally but often not even incorporated within new 'modern' constructions. In my upcoming film directed by my brother Naman Nitin Mukesh, I play a man with special needs using a wheelchair and I'm thrilled to be able to enact a role that might sensitise Indians that take their walking and moving around for granted. It's my call to our nation to support PM Modi's desire to make India an accessible nation".
Actor Arjun Kapoor calls upon developers to incorporate ramps in all infrastructure projects. "Wheelchair access and accessibility must be a priority in India for it to truly be considered a country of the new age world. All builders must look into ramps, access, accessible restrooms. Importantly, all developers must consider that in case of emergencies when people have to run down the stairs, what happens to people who cannot do that? Systems have to be provided for them too, like a chair lift or a ramp".
Time to get more such voices heard, loud and clear.