Saturday, 21 September 2013

Just another way we are sidelined

Before long, our country is again going to undergo our caricature of democracy by going to the polls yet again. (The fact that we have to make the important decision of whether we prefer ineffective corruptness or a scarily macho version of Hindu fundamentlism is only going to surface in this piece insofar as to undeline point that surely our (at least) 30 million disabled people should have a say in which extreme they would find less intolerable.)

Let me narrate my experience of how I voted in the last elections. The local polling booth is quite close to my home, but getting there was another matter. We started off in our car, but it soon became clear that the crowds and the parked vehicles would make it necessary for me to walk far more than I could. So my driver suggested that we go back home and return with me on the pillion of his bike; and it was thus possible for him to ride all the way into the school where the polling booth was after doing some smooth talking to some cops he knew. In fact, one policeman even escorted me to the top of the line, and I successfully managed to exercise my franchise. And all this was possible because of my having a car and driver, in fact one with useful connections and a bike he could take me on. I get this red carpet treatment because of the advantaged section of society I find myself in. What about a huge majority of PwD (people with disability) who have the further handicap of being poor, and can often travel anywhere only when physically carried by a relative or friend?

Unfortunately PwD's are not seen as a vote bank. I think we should try to use our minority status in a way that can help us. Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi, if you are listening: I can assure you that if your party takes ramps, accessibility in buses, metros, etc., as a serious issue and actually do something about it, you can certainly count on my vote, and, I am sure, also those of a sizeable proportion of the at least 30 million PwD (not a small number!) I referred to earlier - unless of course you are convicted for grand theft or murder or some such grave felony by the time the next election rolls around.

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