by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
Despite Indian Paralympic athletes performing miracles in the Tokyo Olympics, we are still far behind in appreciating the potential of our citizens with disabilities.
Just recently, a couple of weeks ago I was returning to New Delhi from my hometown in Jhansi, I arrived at Railway Station and had to go to platform five which was across the main platform, the entry point to the station. The main platform, near the entry point, had a broken elevator and the only thing functioning was an escalator to get to the pedestrian bridge that connects the two platforms. Had anyone on a wheelchair needed to use that bridge that day to go to the other side would have a very hard time using the escalator but the fact that even if one is on a wheelchair and somehow manage to get on the bridge there is no way he can use his wheelchair to catch the train on platform four and five of Jhansi Railway Station because there is no ramp on this bridge for these platforms that people with disabilities can use. Even elderlies who may have difficulty in walking will have to negotiate the stairs. Many if not most of our public infrastructure such as banks, bus stands, post offices, railway stations, etc. are not disabled-friendly.
Things are particularly difficult for people with vision impairment as we do not incorporate brail in communication on signboards and doors. Shouldn’t we make a concerted effort to give space to others as well who may have challenges in movements or do we leave them to forever remain dependent on someone’s help?
How a country’s government and society value’s life and well-being of its citizens speak volumes about its future. If our athletes can win medals despite the challenges that life throws at them then why can’t we take a step forward and make their day-to-day life a little bit easier. Empathy does not cost much but it can make a huge difference in the lives of our citizens who should get the right and space they deserve.