Impossible is nothing when it comes to the specially abled

According to UN statistics, over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population live with some form of disability or physical impairments. And it is not unknown that ‘the world’s largest minority’, often faces discrimination.

With December 3 being the ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ Metrolife spoke to a few who have made it big in life, past all hurdles.

Working against all odds, Major HPS Ahluwalia is one such example. A mountaineer who suffered a gun-shot wound in his neck during the Indo-Pak war in 1965, left him paralysed below the waist and confined to a wheelchair. But, that did not stop him from achieving his potential.

Apart from authoring several books Maj. Ahl­u­w­a­lia also founded the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in 1995 and became the Chairman of The Indian Mountai­ne­ering Foundation. Says Ahluwalia in a comment on his website, “People often ask me from where I get my strength. I tell them, from the mountains.

Today a painting of the Himal­a­yas greets every visitor to the centre and inspires everyone to reach higher, to seek the strength within themsel­v­es and to know that they can conquer any fear, surmo­unt any challenge! When your spirit is strong, nothing in the world can stop you.”

Another hero, Dr. Satendra Singh, a polio survivor, is now a Coordinator of Enabling Unit (for students with disabilities), Equal Opportunity Cell at College of Medical Sciences (DU) and GTB Hospital. The founder of ‘Infinite Ability’ – a group on disability, his RTI’s have exposed inaccessible status of India Post and lack of disability policy.

He is also the Chairperson of the Equality and Diversity Committee, Enabling Unit, UCMS constituted for students with disabilities. “India or Delhi is not at all disabled friendly. Even to get a disability certificate, a disabled pers­on has to make rounds of hospitals and offices. We need a sensitisation drive to make people understand that even we are ‘normal’ hu­m­an beings and need to be treated equally. We are not luggage, but part of the society.”

Fighting all odds is Sheela Sharma, an artist from Lucknow. She lost both her arms in a train accident, when she was a child. But she went on to complete her BA in Fine Arts. Now, she paints with the help of her left foot. Talking about India’s role for the development of disabled persons, She­e­la says, “The development are only for the rich and not for us. There are provisions but we never get any help.”

India lacks awareness and understanding of the basic needs of the physically impaired people. Even ATMs’, banks and post offices, which are regularly used avenues are not disabled-friendly.

Joginder Singh Saluja, a wheelchair-bound weightlifter a seven time winner of Mr. India Para Power Lifting inspires many. “I have proved my mettle and that is why the CRPF has chosen me as a health consultant. I am also the head councillor for disabled students in DU. Jis din mera peheli baar mazaak udaya gaya tha, maine usi din thaan liya ki kuch karne ka hai jo aam aadmi naa kar paaye.”

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