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Divyangs Moving One Step Further: Accessible India – the Sugamya Bharat

Have you seen a physically disabled person struggling to board a bus? Have you been to a government office where you saw a physically challenged person facing discomfort with high stairs? ‘No’ might be your answer if you wish to turn your backs to the bitter realities of getting ‘digital’ India. However, you must remember those incidents of the high school or your college where your physically challenged friend was the last to reach the classroom after morning prayer or any group event. After taking out the bitterness from the ascribed word ‘viklang’ and changing it to ‘divyang’, the government of India is doing another great work in the direction of including those ‘divyangs’ in the mainstream of the country. Accessible India, in Hindi – Sugamya Bharat, is a dream of not only the government of India and the DEPwD but the entire nation. We fight day and night about the participation of a ‘certain’ community in Indian empowerment. However, we always forget about the participation of physically challenged persons and they are still struggling for comfortable access to government buildings! Shall we take the call now? Shall we help them with their basic right?

While most of you must know nothing about the accessible India mission, here is the target 1.1 they have set:

“Target 1.1: Conducting accessibility audit of at least 50 most important government buildings and converting them into fully accessible buildings by July 2016.”

I find this mission a very good move. Indeed, everyone has the same right to access the government buildings. Often, with a marred vision, we want to see everything in the light of caste, community and class. We forget those who are in only one community – ‘support required’. Accessible India mission will ensure that the government buildings are made friendly to the divyangs so that they have easy access to the public services.

Government buildings accessible public

The long terms target that the Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities have set are:

“Target 1.2 : Converting 50% of all the government buildings of National Capital and all the State capitals into fully accessible buildings(July 2018).

Target 1.3: Conducting audit of 50% of government buildings and converting them into fully accessible buildings in 10 most important cities / towns of all the States (other than those, which are already covered in Target 1.1 and 1.2 above) (July 2019).”

Other than making the buildings accessible, the government is also focusing on making the transportation system fully accessible. This mission will make sure that airports, railway stations and public transportation is made fully accessible for everyone. March 2018 is the deadline for all the transportation projects to complete.

Taking a step further, the government is also working in the field of “Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility”. Under this step, it will be ensured that ‘information’ is fully accessible. By information, the government means every kind of information. I will quote the accessible India website here:

“Access to information creates opportunities for everyone in society. Access to information refers to all information. People use information in many forms to make decisions about their daily lives. This can range from actions such as being able to read price tags, to physically enter a hall, to participate in an event, to read a pamphlet with healthcare information, to understand a train timetable, or to view webpages. No longer should societal barriers of infrastructure, and inaccessible formats stand in the way of obtaining and utilizing information in daily life.”

Image: Govt. of India
Image: Govt. of India

Don’t you think it will be a great step? Don’t you think it will bridge the gap that exists between a common person and a physically challenged person? When we are talking about digital India, have we ever thought about that part of India which cannot work like we do? According to the census, 2011, 2.68 crore people in India are physically challenged. I am talking about the data which is 5 years old. They are also the part of our country and they also have the same right on the dream of Digital India! The accessibility of information will ensure that government and public sector websites are fully accessible by March 2017. Moreover, it will also ensure that 50% of all the public documents issued by central and state government is fully accessible.

Taking the movement a step further, the government will also ensure that 25% of public television programmes aired by government channels are accessible to everyone.

As the purpose of ILN is to bring the positive news to the light, I found this issue of great importance. I am personally very pleased to learn about this programme by the government of India and so is the ILN Group team. I hope you will be happy reading this. Hoping the things go according to the plan, we can see an India that is made of participation of citizen without any barrier.

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