Wednesday, November 17, 2010

India launches country-wide disability awareness campaign

From IANS:

NEW DELHI, India -- Badhate Kadam, a pan-India awareness campaign on disability, was kicked off in Delhi by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik Nov. 16.

The campaign, which began last year, will travel to 29 states with an aim to spread the message of inclusion of the differently abled in the mainstream society and recognise their rights to a fulfilled life like any other individual.

The campaign is organised by the National Trust, a statutory body under the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

M. Mathu, one of the volunteers in the campaign who is wheelchair bound, said: 'The campaign is all about awareness of ability of the disabled. Our message is: don't give us concessions, give us consideration. We don't want to form a different society, we want to be included in the mainstream society.'

Poonam Natarajan, chairperson of the National Trust, said: 'In its first year, the campaign went to 13 states in northern India. But this time we are going to 29 states in the country, which includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the states of the northeast'.

'We have our partner organisations in each state who will have a team of volunteers, including a disabled person, organise eight melas or fairs in different parts of the state,' she added.

The mela, she added, will see discussions on various issues of disability, workshops and cultural activities. To put forth their message in capsule form, colourful posters with messages like 'We have the right to family and relationships', 'We have the right to employment' and even one on the 2011 census will be out up.

The posters will be in regional languages as well as in Hindi and English.

Each state will see its own flag-off ceremony Wednesday. At the end of the 13-day campaign, on Nov 30, an all-India flag-in ceremony will be held at the capital.

At the flag-off ceremony, Wasnik said: 'Badhate Kadam is a big step towards realising the rights of the disabled people in our community. While certain initiatives are taken for the welfare of the differently abled, much more needs to be done.'