#PowerOfOne – VS Basavaraju’s devotion to Karnataka’s disabled people is absolute
VS Basavaraju, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in Karnataka, has made a significant and positive change in the lives of many people with disabilities. Our December campaign #PowerOfOne focusses on such officials who are actively working to enable the disabled community in India. Today, we bring you the inspiring story of VS Basavaraju.
VS Basavaraju is undoubtedly one of the most respected and beloved officers from the disability space in Karnataka. For over 30 years, Basavaraju has worked relentlessly for the welfare of people with disabilities in the state and empowered many people. Basavaraju says that ever since a young age, he wanted to work closely in the disability space.
Committed to disabled people from a young age
Basavaraju started being closely associated with disabled people from his college days. After pursuing a graduation, he completed a diploma in special education. He later went on to complete a course in Management of Social Work from the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
I used to closely interact with disabled people. I saw that they were facing discrimination. People did that knowingly or unknowingly. Moreover, there is very less awareness about disabilities. I realised there was huge opportunity for me to make a difference. So I took up the cause- VS Basavaraju, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Karnataka.
He soon became an integral part of The Association of People with Disability where he interacted with over thousands of disabled people. That changed his outlook towards disabilities for the better.
change-maker for disabled in karnataka
Basavaraju realised that a good support system is what is needed to empower people from the disabled community. “A disabled person can have a decent life and contribute to the economy. They can become true assets to the nation. But as a society, we must accept and provide them with a system that can empower and enable them”, he says.
As Basavaraju puts it, his mission is to work closely with the disabled community to bring out the best from them.
Basavaraju agrees that accessibility is one of the main issues faced by people with disabilities. But according to him, it does not end in physical accessibility. “Even today, deaf people are isolated from mainstream society due to lack of sign language interpreters. Our government websites are not accessible. We are denying them so many opportunities. I believe accessibility must be in every sense and not just physical”, he adds.
Contributions towards empowerment of people with disabilities
According to Basavaraju, the society is slowly accepting people with disabilities. Unlike earlier days, they have more opportunities now. “Disabled people are now being recognised as a part and parcel of human diversity. They are becoming leaders and contributors to the society. I’am glad that I could be instrumental in some way for this change”, says Basavaraju.
A much respected government official, Basavaraju can recollect many incidents where he has felt proud of the work he has done. Today, his students lead top positions in government ranks. “When they come up to me and talk about how well they are doing in life, I feel great. I feel I have contributed to the society”, he says.
Future plans for Karnataka’s disabled community
Basavaraju and his team has many plans for the future. He is striving to make a positive change in the disability sector in Karnataka. But what he wants to see the most is a support system for caregivers of disabled people. “Mothers of many disabled children go through a lot of stress and trauma. So we are trying to identify programmes to support them”, he says.
Basavaraju is also working on looking into ways to ensure that the government and societal system becomes more open towards people with disabilities. Together, they can be instrumental in developing technologies so that disabled people can have a quality life.
“I also hope to build an environment and eco-system in colleges and higher education departments that will provide better opportunities in jobs and education for disabled people”, he signs off.
Testimonies to a much-loved disability officer
Sarbani Mallick, Founder, Bubbles Centre for Autism says, “Basavaraju is an officer who initiated me to think about many things which I never did. It included working for children with disabilities in rural Karnataka. I’am glad that he gave me that idea. He has inspired me in so many ways”.
Geetu Ahuja, a parent who has a son with autism, had recently filed a complaint against her son’s school staffs for misbehaving with the child. “The matter had reached Basavaraju. He was supportive. But the system is not empowering the commissioner to take strong action against offenders”.
Also Read in the #PowerOfOne series:
- 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
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