Give not sympathy & pity but empathy & support to differently abled – Vice President

National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was presented on 03/12/2019 in New Delhi.

The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu presented the awards and in his address at the gathering said that ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ must be renamed as ‘International Day of Persons with Special Abilities’, to reflect the enormous potential and capabilities that differently-abled people possess and to dispel the stigma that society attaches to disability. “They are certainly role models for many others and can make immense contribution to the cause of nation building, given the right kind of environment and opportunities”, he added.

Expressing deep concern at the evidently severe problems faced by differently-abled, in terms of their social and economic conditions, Naidu said that we must build an inclusive society that is respectful and sensitive to the needs of the differently-abled.

He spoke of the need to provide right nutrition and care to pregnant mothers and young children and to create good and accessible medical facilities across rural India.

Stating that early identification of disability is crucial, he said that it would enable us to undertake effective interventions from the beginning for rehabilitation measures and empowerment of the affected persons. “There is also a need to harmonize the immunization and disease prevention program with appropriate rehabilitatory models at least at the District level”, he added, citing eradication of Polio is an excellent example of such coordinated efforts.

“To minimize the disabilities from accidents, we need to improve road and workplace safety”, he stressed.

Referring to government reports that say road injuries caused 65% more disabilities in 2016 than in 1990, the Vice President called for improving road safety and spreading awareness about safe driving. He termed the recent amendments in Motor Vehicles Act as a step in the right direction.

The Vice President emphasized that a change in society’s attitude towards disability is crucial and added that differently-abled persons are not objects of ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’ and must instead be given ‘empathy’ and ‘support’.

Naidu said that all schools must strive to inculcate sensitivity towards disability in children early in their lives.

Stating that education is the key to empowerment of every person including persons with disabilities,  Naidu called for setting up more inclusive schools and special schools to ensure that each disabled child gets good quality education.

He urged the corporate and the private entities to take all steps possible to make their infrastructure accessible to persons with disabilities.

Speaking of the need to include persons with disabilities in social and cultural activities, especially in sporting events,  Naidu said that it would instil a sense of inclusion and confidence amongst the persons with disabilities. He also applauded our sportspersons have constantly done country proud in Paralympics.