Ina country that prides itself on upholding unity in diversity, how wellcoordinated are our efforts to create an inclusive society for people with disabilities? In a society that is sensitive, but not compassionate enough to include their concerns and rights in legislation, public places, and social settings, the particularly abled manage to make it. People who suffer from a variety of mental and physical disabilities find that having a disability is a significant obstacle in their lives, since performing and managing the simplest activities is a challenge for them and every day is a battle. To draw attention to the importance of inclusion, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Interior Design - Department of English - Women and Gender Sensitization Cell, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University), jointly conducted a Scholar in Campus session. The session titled Specially Abled and Society - Our Responsibilities in Inclusivity, witnessed Prof. Prasanna Udipikar as the guest speaker.
her inaugural speech, Major Dr. Rekha Sinha, Director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Interior Design, expressed her appreciation for the participants and stressed that the notion of diversity comprises tolerance and acceptance in all its forms. “It is about realising that each human is unique, and that individuality should not be discarded, but rather accepted and appreciated,” she explained further. Dr. Mekhala Venkatesh, Head of the English Department and Coordinator of the Women and Gender Sensitization Cell, welcomed the guest speaker, Prof. Prasanna Udipikar, Vice Principal of V.V.N. Degree College in Bengaluru, to the university. Prof. Prasanna Udipikar is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English with a focus on specially-abled people, at JAIN (Deemed-to-be University).
She initiated an empathetic and powerful discussion on the differently-abled people and their challenges in society, thus offering the participants an understanding of their role in inclusiveness. “It is not enough to just have legislation for the specially-abled people in place. At the university level, teachers should be trained on how to deal with children who have special needs in order to ensure that the law is effectively implemented. It is necessary to adapt the education system to meet the needs of children with impairments,” she stated. She reminded the audience that we are all humans and that we can find ways to cohabit in a caring atmosphere. She underlined the need for raising awareness about the differently-abled and making space for their participation in policymaking in order to pave the way for their eventual integration into society.
Prof. Udipikar stated that building equity and inclusion has become a major concern in every culture, and that teachers and parents must educate young children about acceptance and mutual respect from an early age. People in managerial positions, she continued, must guarantee that all employees have equal chances and benefits, and that they are accepted for who they are, no matter how different they are. She provided instances of people who had been successful despite their disabilities. Her speech was compelling and she persuaded the participants to educate themselves to become prejudice-free and to rid the society of discrimination. She emphasised the need to honour variety in order to fight prejudices, promote togetherness and be conscious of one’s responsibilities in the context of inclusion. The inclusion of acid attack survivors as specially-abled was a long and laborious process, but adequate policies have enabled them to claim what is rightly theirs, as she explained in her address.
The event followed with a half-hour Q&A session, during which students expressed their interest in learning more about what it means to be disabled, how policies can help them and how they can be integrated into mainstream society, especially into the education and professional system.