PROLIFIC writer, poet and research scholar at a university in Delhi, Abhishek Annica wanted to rent a flat of his own in India’s capital. This simple exercise became complicated in his case. As he has a locomotor disability, many house owners simply refused to let their house out as soon as they realised he would be staying alone. They didn’t give a reason, but Abhishek could feel that the house owners didn’t want to take the “responsibility” of a differently abled person like him, even though he didn’t need any help.

What Abhishek faced is just one form of discrimination. More often than not, persons with disabilities are not treated as equals in many aspects of daily life. And the prejudice starts at an early age.

Nipun Malhotra was born with a rare congenital disorder called arthrogryposis with muscles in his arms and legs not fully developed at birth, inhibiting normal joint movement. When he was of school-going age, several people told his parents to send Nipun to a school for the differently abled, as he was ‘not normal’. His parents ignored such advice as they believed Nipun was completely normal and he just had a disability.

Nipun is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s, the Delhi School of Economics and the Indian School of Business. He is now the co-founder and CEO of Nipman Foundation that works towards the health and advocacy of people with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities in India

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “Disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society equally. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

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About 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability and 2-4% among them experience significant difficulties in functioning. In India, as per the 2011 population census, there are 26.8 million people with disabilities. It implies that 2.2% of India’s total population suffers from single or multiple disabilities. However, the World Bank data indicates the actual number is between 40 and 80 million.

Irrespective of the disparity in the figures, it makes India a country with the highest number of people with disabilities, globally. Yet, they face negative social attitudes in the wider population.

Challenges and stigma

People with disabilities face discrimination, sometimes daily. It starts at homes and then magnifies in other spheres of society and life at large. The differently abled are often seen as a burden on society. Many are confined to their home because of social stigma.

Families often believe that education is not a worthy investment for someone with a disability. Educational institutions, too, make it harder for students with disabilities to get admission. Companies do not consider a person with disability suitable for jobs despite qualifications and so on. So, the discrimination continues.

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The journey of an individual with a disability is extremely challenging and he/she has to fight daily battles for most basic rights. Deprivation of their rights and discrimination are the underlying causes for their isolation from the mainstream.

The situation is even worse off for those who have a disability and come from impoverished households. They face greater difficulties in getting education, training and rehabilitation.

Equal opportunities will empower

A disability should not exclude someone from the opportunity to be independent. We must see people with disabilities for what they can do rather than what they cannot.

Narayan Thakur, who suffers from left-sided hemiplegia, celebrates winning the gold medal in the men’s T-35 100m sprint at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia

In order to achieve equality for people with disabilities, society has to become comfortable with the idea that the differently abled can lead full and enriching lives.

With this idea at the core, GiveIndia’s Equality in Disability Mission is striving to help people with disabilities have equal opportunities. A donation of just ₹1,500 per month will help our partner NGOs provide education, therapeutic care, healthcare, livelihood opportunities, etc for one individual who is differently abled.

Donate here to help the differently abled poor access the necessities and live as normal a life as possible.

Established in 2000, GiveIndia is the largest and most trusted giving platform in India today. Our community of 2M+ donors and 250+ corporate partners and brands have supported 2,200+ nonprofits, impacting 15M+ lives across India.

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