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Editorial

Enable the Disable

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 23, 2016 11:50 pm
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The role of any government in a civil democracy – among others – is to help dismantle barriers of any kind so that the people can have a fuller participation in their communities, both for the betterment of the society and for the fulfilment of their personal/individual potential. A government which erects barriers, or even fails to remove such barriers, that marginalize the vulnerable and institutionalize their isolation is by all means a failure.

Across the world numerous laws, declarations, codes of practice and guidelines have been introduced as roadmaps for people with disabilities to operationalise laws that grant him/her a decent life and how to prioritise implementation within a time frame. Accountability and strong punitive action against non-compliance, after all, provide good safeguards.

But in India, we have an extremely chaotic framework. Faulty, entrenched laws, structural and conceptual barriers; a lack of convergence and of robust disaggregated data; an over-reliance on non-governmental organisations (NGO) — it suits the Planning Commission’s budget — delivering piecemeal micro-level service; political apathy and indifference under the mistaken belief that the disabled are not vote-catchers, have no political constituency and have no voice in Parliament. All these have left more than 100 million people excluded.

According to Census 2011, there are 29,631 people with various disabilities in Nagaland. The figure is contested, especially by those involved in first-hand dealing with disability issues in Nagaland. Nevertheless, they have been rightly (and sadly) called as Nagaland’s forgotten people. This community of almost 30,000 people have been made to survive on the fringes of our society – completely ignored and deprived off their rights and dignity.

As quite rightly pointed by a member of the NBCC Disability Commission, we (only) need look at the aspect of physical accessibility alone and the scenario in Nagaland becomes clear. “People with disability find themselves shut out – shut out of buildings, offices, homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, churches, sports and community groups and activities. They find themselves shut out of our way of life.”

It is in this context that the initiative by some leaders of Officers’ Hill colony at Kohima to construct a toilet for the people with disabilities is such a welcome gesture. Recently they have told Eastern Mirror that they received fund from the KMC to construct a two-room public toilet in the locality. “However, observing that there were some specially-able people who cannot access similar facilities in public places, they came up with the idea to construct an extra-room toilet,” it was reported. Granted, one accessible toilet does not put an end to all the struggles and discriminations suffered by people with disabilities in Nagaland. But it is still one stride in the right direction.

As is almost all the cases, at the end it all comes down to education. In disability, we are dealing with a marginalised section of society. The victims are the result of exclusionary forces that have origin in our educational system. This needs to change if education is to be the stepping stone to progress. For the government, it has enough roadmaps. All it has to do is follow it.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 23, 2016 11:50:54 pm