Can Exclusive Structures Generate Inclusive Societies?

REPORTAGE

If the transportation facilities and the infrastructure of public space becomes inclusive in character it will be possible for us to create a more inclusive and aware society. The hardships faced by those who happen to be differently abled need to be seen in the context of the structural incapacities of our society.

The New Leam Staff

How will we succeed in achieving inclusivity in a space that discriminates?

Delhi’s transportation system continues to grow with time, the Metro has been a boon and so has its expansion made the lives of the daily commuters easy. Introduction of metro feeders, low floor buses, e-rickshaws- all of them aid the transport infrastructure of the city.

It caters to a huge population of daily commuters, commuting for work, education and otherwise, last mile connectivity and easy access, is what the transportation network tends to provide, but is it accessible for all? Is the transportation system really inclusive? This is a question which needs an urgent inquiry and also a daily life problem faced by the differently abled section of our society.

It is important to cater to it holistically when the state talks of inclusivity, but inclusion is a domain where we see a pertinent struggle to get included and accepted equally.  State policies and scheme tend to pay very little attention to inclusion although they talk about it. As human beings we are different by virtue of our colour, race, gender, ethnicity, culture, origin or religion but one thing that unites us all is the fact that we are all humans ultimately.

Not One But Diverse Forms of Disability

Similarly people are differently abled by the virtue of losing a body part or non-functionality of  any sense organ, disability is of  several kind, one might be disabled because he/ she is blind and one can be equally called disabled if he/she has a shallow mind.

Physical disability is not the ultimate disability, each one of us is disabled in some manner or the other hence disability is a persistent fact of the society affecting every human being in one form or the other.

Physical disability does not cater to the disability of the mind, and a live example of this was Stephen Hawkings, such a brilliant mind, likewise in our society too people are differently abled if not disabled and hence catering to their requirements is also an important responsibility of the state.

Inclusion is not complete until everyone is treat as one and unique and each ones needs and requirements are taken care of.

Delhi’s transportation system is a good model and Delhi Metro in terms of its infrastructure and services has proved it time and again, their sensitivity towards the differently abled section of the society has made transportation much more accessible for them but not everywhere does the metro reach, there are areas which are accessible via buses or auto-rickshaws only and here is where the actual problem lies, government did introduce low floor buses but they forgot that the bus stand still do not have a ramp service for a wheel chair bound person hence making him/her dependent on the fellow commuters to help them in getting into the bus. Sometimes the bus conductors and bus drivers too show lack of sensitivity, when they do not stop near the ramp (available only at some bus stops), even after noticing that a differently abled person is waiting at the bus stop.

Auto-rickshaws and taxis are the most uncomfortable and least preferred option by any person with physical disability. Differently-abled people continue to pursue their professional or educational pursuits with enthusiasm, but lack of accessibility to important infrastructure like transportation acts as a hindrance in their mobility and further only leads to their dependency on fellow beings and in away inculcating a feeling of lack of independence amongst the differently-abled section.

Through education and employment we are empowering them but by lack of infrastructure in public sphere, schools, colleges, universities we then tend to disempower them too.  Public sphere continues to provide lack of support to the differently abled mass, public toilets are not designed to help them, no separate public toilets for the differently abled exist and thus leaving them with no choice than to use the washroom not at all designed for their comfortable use. University spaces too lack an inclusive infrastructure and even if they have their maintenance is very poor.

When we envision an equal world it is important that inclusion of every form is taken care of, to support and empower people, in and around, just by exclaiming after watching a person with physical disability is not what is required, always putting them into the category of the other in the public sphere is not the right thing to do, since their disability is not their hindrance rather our mind set and lack of support by the state and the society is the larger hindrance faced by them.

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