I would be surprised if any of you are aware of what December 3rd is observed as. Well, admittedly even I was not aware until I stumbled upon a article in the Economic Times that showcased a Bangalore based BPO whose whooping 80% of workforce is disabled. You guessed it right - today is "International day for disabled" - a decision taken by UN 14 years back.

Well, I would not blame one for not remembering this day given the plethora of other seemingly more important days, such as Valentine's day, that we can hardly afford to forget.  A 13 year old girl brilliantly articulates this situation and her aspirations in a Pakistani Daily - "We are not aiming to be heroes. This is not a competition or a war. We are just asking for our basic rights as per the UN charter and legislation to enforce it. We want integration, equal treatment and opportunities in all walks of life; we are not looking for sympathy either. Every one remembers days like Valentines and Halloween, while the day of disabled people, which is a national responsibility, seems to hold importance only for the ones who are directly affected".  

While acknowledging the multitude of issues that the disabled face, the challenges of employability is what I am most concerned about. While corporates, especially in the IT and ITES sector, are doing their wee-bit to proactively hire disabled, this still seems to me a small drop in the ocean. However, one interesting trend observed of late is the the corporate segment, BPO firms in particular, hiring disabled not because it's a CSR mandate, but because it makes business sense. While the average attrition rate in a BPO firm is staggering 40%, those firms that have significant proportion of disabled claim an attrition rate of near 0%. There are claims that even the productivity of a disabled is higher. It is indeed commendable to see firms such as EnAble India and AccessAbility play their part in placing the disabled in the organized sector. 

There is no doubt that much needs to be done to include the 10% of the society that is excluded - a section for whom air travel, bus journey and even accessing public buildings is still a distant dream. You may want to peruse an interesting three-fold approach called "APT" proposed on IndianEconomy blog

On a parting thought, here are some coffee-table trivia - 
 - Beethoven, one of the all-time greatest composer, composed some of his best symphonies after he became profoundly deaf
-  Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientist, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis when he was 21
- Tom Cruise, amongst the most talented actors in the world, battles with Dyslexia - a learning disability.

~ Santosh

12/05/2007 05:51

Why should there be a word called 'Disabled' and why in the first place use it to address a person?. Can't we use 'Differently Abled'. I know I sound 'cliche' and it is very very easily said than done. Why should there be a day named after them? Every day belongs as much to them as every other being on earth to achieve, to celebrate, to grow and to live and laugh and to just being themselves. Putting down the very fact that there should be a dedicated day gives forth the impression of them being weak and need special attention. Why so? For example by saying we need reservations for women we are proclaiming that they belong to a weaker section and need help and so reservations. why so? Let things just be.. Let people just be..Live and let live.. Let people achieve. Dont try lending a hand, Walk along!

12/05/2007 10:39

Your view point seems to me to be very idealistic. My question is how many would agree that the disabled or oppressed section of society should not be called so? The fact of the matter is that a certain section of society is disadvantaged. Let us recognize their inadequacies and then walk along!


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