Saturday, 8 June 2013

Almost, but not quite, perfect

I have – as you may know if you have been reading the recent posts in my blog – been in the US for the past few weeks. And I have been enjoying various types of freedom that have been denied me for a while now – driving around in cars with an automatic shift which involves no work for my left (and `game') foot, driving around campuses and the streets of the smaller towns on a rented scooter (of the sort praised rapturously in youtube videos by the late Rahul Cherian), finding ramps almost wherever there were steps. In short, I have been basking in the sort of Utopia that the underprivileged PWD of India have been craving and campaigning for – tactile pavements with cutaways to enable easy transition to roads, pedestrian crossings where you can cross without running the risk of getting killed. Will India, the allegedly largest democracy and superpower of the future, ever get to this stage?

But even in this allegedly greatest democracy, all is not well. At this large plush hotel (on the Pacific coast, with swimming pools, jacuzzis, almost anything you can think of), they had only two accessible rooms, one of which did not have a roll-in shower and you could only shower by climbing into a tub that necessitated getting your legs up and across a two-foot high side. The toilets of many houses have no grab bars, only slick marble-like tiles where taking a sliding toss like a baseball player is an entirely likely scenario even for the able bodied. No wonder so many 60 plus people have broken hip bones.

While our democracy continues to deny the rights of certain minorities like PWDs and Dalits, theirs does equally ridiculous things such, for instance, as a Texan court recently acquitting a person who had shot a paid escort for walking out on him without having sex with him even though he had paid her. The justification for the verdict was: Texas law allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.

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