Divyang, Curse or the boon: The honorable prime minister of India suggested a new word for viklang (handicapped), and that is Divyang. Being a differently able myself I do not endorse the new term given to us by the Honorable PM of India. Let me state categorically that I am of the opinion that we don’t have any divyang as suggested by his majesty. Divyang, Curse or the boon – it is as Osho said: when we aren’t able to solve a problem, we glorify it.
Divyang, Curse or the boon for PwDs
The word divyang is very mythological and thus his majesty is trying to divinize the entire community of differently able people. Do you think that this divinization of the community will serve any purpose? I don’t think so, instead of solving any problems his majesty is trying to generate the sympathy for the community which is yearning for self-respect and respectable life since the very existence of civilization.
Take a glance at history and beliefs of the people in general with regards to physically and mentally challenged people.
It is believed in most of the faiths in India that disability is due to some deeds done in previous birth, means the person is paying for his previous sins. It took a long time and struggles to soften these beliefs and bring some rationalism in the thoughts of people to a certain extent. And now instead of humanizing the differently able people, his majesty is trying to mythologizing the entire community. If I have to say it on a lighter note, then I would say that the gentleman is trying to convince the people that whenever he/she sees any differently able people, instead of helping the person, he/she should touch the feet of the person and move on. In the age of scientific discovery and innovations, the gentleman is trying to take a community backward, in the medieval ages.
Another thing my friend Mustafa Natalwala and Jigar Bhatt says, (who have the experience of the working with the differently able people of their college), and “the words won’t make any difference unless you we give equality and equal opportunity.” Instead of coining the new terms, his majesty should do something for the implementation of the policies made for the differently able people.
Unemployment, inaccessible infrastructure, attitudinal biases’, there are many issues we are facing. Unemployment is the biggest problem for the differently able people in India’s many states. Let me site the example from Gujarat, the state of the prime minister himself. Few visually challenged people are fighting the case against the Gujarat government since the past few years for the recruitment of the vidya sahayakas (the teachers in the state government schools). Since last two years, the online forms of the visually challenged people are not accepted by the server because the state gov is having the opinion that a blind person would not be able to teach despite of the the ministery of social justice and honorable supreme court found the teaching job suitable for visually challenged. One of the petitioner harshesh chauhan says: “we managed to convince the court to let our forms be accepted, but the attitude of the officials is like they just have to accept the forms, not to give the job.” This exploitation of the differently able people in the laboratory is enough to convince one how much work is to be done for social awareness among the officials.
This word divyang will only strengthen the sympathy factor for them, it won’t give them super human powers, neither of which they want. Along with it, it will also increase the attitudinal biases for us. We just want to be treated as normal human beings, no more, no less.
And I am of the opinion of that honorable PM is shifting the discussion from their inclusion to some irrational things. It is the insult of the family, friends, activists, well wishers of the differently able people who work tirelessly for their inclusion in the main stream society. His majesty can’t just coin the term without looking into the grievances of the disable community.