How often we come across people who have lost their legs or hands, or other parts of their body, in our immediate environment! Many feelings well up in us, as even the stoniest of hearts are moved to pity. These disabilities are not limited to the physical frame alone, but encompass all impairments that may be physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, or sensory, which restricts normal activity in everyday life. Thus, there are many varieties of disability.
Viklang to Divyang
Until recently, Viklang was the word used in this country for those with disability. The government of India in the year 2016 replaced this word with Divyang, with the view of inculcating a positive feeling in the general public about the disabled, and also to encourage those with disability, so that they are respected as ones with ‘divine abilities’, and not disabilities.
This decision was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Man Ki Bat interaction.
With Divine Abilities
Divya, means Divine and Ang, refers to limbs, parts. Those with disabilities are all limbs of Divinity, and have many times surprised us with their amazing abilities, inspite of facing disadvantage in one or more aspects of their life. The disabled need to be welcomed with care into our mainstream society and given appropriate opportunities to showcase their talents. Very often, we outwardly show compassion when we come across such people, but inwardly shun them and later avoid them.
The name of Rishi Ashtavakra from ancient India comes to mind here, who had multiple disabilities from birth, but is revered to this day as literally being a Divyang, i.e a being who had attained enlightenment and oneness with divinity.
In Samskrt, Ashtavakra means “One with eight bends”, Ashta meaning eight and Vakra, bend, deformity. Ashtavakra was born with eight deformities, including in his two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and head. Inspite of his great disabilities, he went on to acquire great wisdom and fame, and is today well known for his treatise, Ashtavakra Gita, “the knowledge of the Self”, that he revealed to his disciple, King Janaka.
Conversation between King Janaka and Ashtavakra
Accept the disabled as they are
The disabled should be treated as any other person in the society, and should not be held back by other people.
The case in point here is a study which states that today in India, 54.4% of 26 lakhs disabled in 5-19 years age group, are the one with multiple disability! 17.5 lakh of them don’t go to school, though they want to.
We need to encourage education among the disabled!
Accept the disabled as they are
If we could encourage the disabled in sports, then why play spoilsport in their education!
The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities. In India too, The Paralympic Committee of India is dedicated for the development and upliftment of physically challenged in sports, athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness & cerebral palsy. They from time to time organize games for the disabled and encourage them in Paralympics.
Here are a few of those who have performed well in Paralympics.
- Amit Kumar Saroha – Club throw
Amit Kumar Saroha in action
- Devendra Jhajaria – Javelin throw
Devendra Jhajaria in action
- Deepa Malik – Shotput
- Karamjyoti Dalal – Discus Throw
In the Indian National Games, held every two years, the disabled take part in a wide variety of sports.
Apart from giving the disabled a normal place in the society, we need to find new ways to help them, through new innovations.
The Jaipur Foot, also known as the Jaipur Leg, is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations, that were designed by Ram Chander Sharma, under the guidance of Dr. P.K. Sethi, the then HOD of the Orthopedics department in Sawal Mansingh Medical College in Jaipur.
This artificial foot was developed in 1968 and was helpful to those with leg disability for many decades, but were very heavy, weighing atleast 4 kgs.
In 2009-10, our late President Bharat Ratna A P J Abdul Kalam and his team used “rocket science” for designing an artificial limbs bringing it down to a weight of just 400 gms, i.e ten times lighter. In other words, this great scientist used his light space materials to construct light weight prosthesis. This was lighter, cheaper and more durable version of ‘Jaipur Foot’.
Dr Abdul Kalam with a disabled
A remarkable effort in helping one kind of disabled, with simple innovation!
Need to make them comfortable
We need to make it as comfortable as possible for the disabled in our public spaces. There needs to be special facilities in the street, pavements, toilets and at entrance to public building, for the disabled to move freely, without any hindrances. This is apart from the many disability benefits provided by the governments.
Dwarf – Vamana
We also need to include Dwarfs as those with a disability. In this land, dwarfs are referred to as Vaman. We all are aware of the Vamana Avatar, an incarnation of Divinity Vishnu. Like this divine incarnation who encompassed the whole Creation as Trivikrama, these are also people with vast potentials and divine abilities. Infact, this is true for all categories of the disabled.
International Day of People with Disabilities
International Day of People with Disabilities was instituted by the United Nations in 1992, and is observed every year on 3rd December, to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities.
Our aim should be to build a sustainable, inclusive and equitable world for people with disabilities.