WORLD DISABILITY DAY
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a disabled person is anyone who has “a problem in body function or structure, an activity limitation, has a difficulty in executing a task or action; with a participation restriction”. The annual observance of the "International Day of Persons with Disabilities" observed on 3rd December, was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. As per WHO report over 1 billion people are estimated to experience disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world's population, with up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care and other services.
Disability need not be an obstacle to success. As Stephen Hawking said, “Disability need not be an obstacle to success”. They are store houses of talent and they can achieve and are achieving their goals. They are capable of doing all the tasks as a normal persons can do; it is just that they have their own way of doing it. Their capabilities should not be undermined in any way. With the correct advice and guidance by mentors, even they can prove that they are more competent in comparison to some of the other normal persons. This world has lived to see many examples of great legends who despite being handicapped were a great gift to the mankind. For e.g. the father of modern science, Stephen Hawking. He is one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known. It is actually very astonishing for a man to be paralyzed and wheel-chair rider and being called as one of the greatest scientists of all times.
There are sports persons with disabilities in our country who achieved greatness despite all the odds against them. They, defiling all the odds have proved that ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ Chandeep Singh became the first Para Athlete from Jammu and Kashmir to achieve such a feat at the World level. This also is India's first-ever medal in the history of the Para World Taekwondo Championships. He created history by claiming a silver medal in Men’s plus 80 kg event at the 9th Para World Taekwondo Championships held at Istanbul, Turkey from 9th to 12th December 2021. Captain of the Jammu and Kashmir para cricket team Amir Hussain Lone has been picked to represent India at the international level, making him a para cricket player from Kashmir to bag the honour. Two Kashmiri youth, Nayeem Ahmad Mall and Ferroz Ahmad Ganie got selected for the international disabled cricket team of India in 2021.
On one side Arunima Sinha of UP has been the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest. In 2011, she lost her leg when she was pushed out of a moving train by a gang of robbers. With a firm determination and persistence, two years later she became the first Indian woman amputee to have climbed Mount Everest. She also went climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe. On other side para sports persons from J&K like Ishrat Akhter and Insha Bashir award-winning international wheelchair basketball player inspires scores of youth especially the ones with physical disabilities. Mohd Nadeem, Jagmohan Singh, Nikhal Manhas, Yawar Mubarak, Majid Ahmad, Vivek, Firdous Ahmad, Ayaz Ahmad,Ravi Kumar, Vasihno Dev, Waseem, Amir, Zahoor Ahmad, Manzoor, Zafar, Syed Shah Aziz, Aqib Nisar Malik and Shahid are the cricketers of J&K team having disabilities. 25-year-old Rakshinda served as a key participant from India in the judo team at the 24th Deaflympics. Rakshinda, a deaf by birth, has won at least 13 gold medals in judo competitions at the national and state levels already and had the honour of being named Best Judoka at the Deaf National Judo Championships in Lucknow in 2021.
Rajinder Singh has been stuck in a wheelchair for the last 22 years due to Spinal Cord Injury. Despite not being able to walk, Rajinder Singh has kept himself active in sports and social activities. Bringing laurels, the special Para-athlete Rajinder Singh has bagged a gold medal for J&K in the National Boccia Championship. Born without hands (phocomelia), Sheetal, the 15-year-old, showed strong belief in herself, despite being able to shoot an arrow with only her foot. The trainee of Jammu-based Mata Vaishnodevi Archery Academy left everyone shocked with her performances. She is the world’s first para female archer who is armless and shoots using her feet. Mohd Azeem of Cricket Association for Blind Jammu and Kashmir (CABJK) has been selected in top 29 players for India Camp scheduled to pick the players for representing the country in the forthcoming prestigious 3rd T20 World Cup for visually impaired. These are just the examples but the names to count are numerous and shall be highlighted in future write-ups.
People with disabilities don’t need any of our sympathy. What they need is love, affection, trust, responsibility and acceptability. They should not be alienated from the society just because they are especially abled. Their hands should be held and they should be given all the love in the world. Shunning them out is not the correct way. Accept them as they are and make friends with them. They are created by the Almighty and so are to be acknowledged and given their rightful place in the society.
(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at email@example.com)