Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Invisible Indian

Recently IBM came up with cutting-edge technology to help deaf and blind people to connect with rest of the world through software. While reading about those technologies it stuck me that these people in India are not only deaf, mute and blind but also invisible. It’s a rarity to see a blind man crossing a street unless he/she has been forced to beg on the street, while using the handicap as a way to make money, in most cases not for themselves but for their bosses in the begging business. Having said that, I personally think that India does a lot for the less privileged, albeit through private efforts rather than Government. The area where India or other developing nations have failed is making these people visible to the world around them.

When I was in Dehradun doing my final years of my schooling, I would pass by a blind school and would sometimes see one or two blind people wandering outside to walk in the open air outside their gated school for blinds. The sight would intrigue me because I hardly saw blind people walking in the streets. At times I would wonder what it must feel to live not only as a blind person but live inside a gated community as well, separated from the rest of the world.

When I moved to Canada those invisible people in India became visible here. It became a common sight to see blind/deaf/handicapped people on streets, colleges, pubs, stores, work places. So, how was it possible that in a country like India, with a population of more blind/deaf people that entire population of Canada, these people were invisible? Sure, we would hear success stories about blind/deaf schools but never see those people among ourselves.

This is where the Government needs to step up because India will never move forward without making such a large population visible to the people around them. We will need to build pavements where everyone can walk without stepping on each other; transportation for special needs people like the Metro in Delhi has provided recently, buildings with access for everyone, street crosswalks with audible/visual signage and much more. It is no longer an excuse that India cannot afford these facilities because it can and it should. As our prime minister, Manmohan Singh said and I will paraphrase, that if India has to grow it has to take everyone with it. India’s progress will mean nothing if we ignore a major portion of the population because one of their senses do not work. It is good to look at innovative techniques like IBM has been working on but the real progress can be made by opening our hearts and minds for that invisible Indian.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so so true.. it's a fact actually and bizzarely enough, i was thinking of this a few days; but not enough topost abt it i guess. India really needs to do so much - for the difrently abled - for those who do not have the use of their senses. its just not fair to lock them up and let life pass by. your solutions are very practical, though we ned some1 whos very bullish abt it at the helm to get sth done.

11:39 PM  
Blogger hope said...

hmmm very thought provoking post.. will read it again..

i said chatpati... grrrrr

11:48 PM  
Blogger Marlee said...

So true. They are like the untapped resources for the country. Let me cite an example: I had a Class mate at College who studied at DPS, RK Puram and then joined St Stephen's. He made it to the waiting list of FMS but couldn't make it. He is at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management. Puts me to shame with my lack of achievements next to him.

Ricky, ur like the conscience pricker here! Thanks :)

1:55 AM  
Blogger Jyoti said...

dont mind but if thinkers like you will reside outside india and will just write such articles..then what about your contribution towards it..if you are an indian...come here and make the move..sirf likhne aur bolne se kaam nahi chalata bhai!

2:58 AM  
Blogger The Bhandari's said...

Indeed thought provoking post

2:29 AM  
Blogger Jyoti said...

i like the way of your comment...i read on reema's blog! Nice

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post Ricky..infact just the other day I was swapping between channels and saw some of the 'invisible' ppl on a regional channel..and their constant struggle and their relentless struggle to be self dependent..i got so engrossed that I watched entire story.

Sure we must understand that they too could and should be able to live as normal as life as possible. IBM story is a gud step :)

1:08 AM  
Blogger Moonie said...

True! Well We need to make sure that we take the whole of India forward with us and not just corporate urban India.

BTW, I've moved my blog...


1:59 AM  
Blogger Reema said...

here's a quick comment.. hectic hectic days on my end!!
good post.. very touchy! n ur right, we keep them in hiding.. its like they dun even exist! :S

12:03 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

payal - I think these things crosses our mind every now and then but never so strongly. Yea, we need someone with a vision like APJ Abdul Kalam, who sees the larger picture and think far ahead, to bring change into our society.

hope - hmmmmmmmmm...

I think you forgot to read again...lol. Oh you said chatpati, I thought you said with chai-patti (tea-leaves) :P

5:11 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

marlee - These people are as good as rest of us, if not better. If they don't have one sense then their other senses are heightened. All they need is equal opportunity.

Now who is saying "Thanks"??? :P

jyoti - Belcul sahi kaha, I agree with you on that but when I was there I never thought about such things because I was living there with such apathy around me. It was only when I moved out of the country did I realized how rest of the world treat their citizens and what India is doing better and worse than others.

These are only my views on the topic, I have no immediate aspiration to work towards it either in Canada or back home.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

the bhandari's - Yes, indeed.

jyoti - Thanks!! Reema is one of my bestest friend, so I guess it reflects in the comments.

nidhi - The problem is that their struggle is made more difficult by the indifference of the society.

Yea, people are using technology in innovative ways to help the ones that need the most.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

moonie - Yea, I agree. I will check your blog soon.

reema - Yea, thats how our society usually deal with handicapped people by making them invisible, so that we don't see them around, otherwise they will constantly remind us of our country's own handicap.

5:32 PM  

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