Pointing out that those with physical disabilities may have “extraordinary capabilities”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his government’s resolve to ensure dignity and empowerment of the differently-abled.
“Whenever we label a person as handicapped, our eyes begin to search for the particular body part which may be deformed, severed or lacking in strength. “This attitude must be changed as it makes people lose sight of the extraordinary capabilities that such an unfortunate person may be endowed with,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said, “a person who is blind, can obviously not read. But he can decipher the Braille script with the help of his fingertips. In this way, he possesses an ability that those with sound eyesight are unlikely to have developed. We need to look at the differently-abled with this approach.”
“And that is what I was driving at when I recently expressed the opinion that instead of calling them viklang we consider the use of the word divyang,” Modi said at the function where motorized tricycles, hearing aids, specially-designed smart phones and tablets and other such appliances were given to more than 9,000 people with physical or mental disabilities.
He said the NDA government has, since coming to power less than two years ago, organised more than 1800 such camps. “Events like these underscore our government’s commitment to the issue, which is demonstrably greater than all the previous regimes that have been in place since 1992, when a separate department for the welfare of the disabled came into being.
“Such events also go a long way in eliminating middlemen,” Modi added. The Prime Minister said “persons with disabilities, when given a chance, make their society and country proud. Indian participants have often excelled in sporting events held for the differently-abled.
“Hence, we need to acknowledge that the society at large too has a moral responsibility towards them. Social attitudes take time to change,” Modi said adding “our government will take the lead and we will ensure that all public buildings are equipped with facilities like ramps and specially-designed toilets.”
The Prime Minister also flagged off the “Mahamana Express”, a thrice-a-week train running between New Delhi and Varanasi via Lucknow, which boasts of state-of-the-art amenities for passengers.
Later, Modi sought the mike when the speech of Minister of State Railways Manoj Sinha was underway and expressed regret for having forgot to mention the Railways in his 40-minute-long speech, saying “I was overcome by emotions while speaking about our divyang brothers and sisters”.
This was Modi’s fifth visit to the city, which he represents in the Lok Sabha, after becoming the Prime Minister in May 2014. While at the dais erected at the Diesel Locomotive Works premises in the city, the Prime Minister was presented flowers, as a token of thanks, by a number of children who have overcome their impairments of speech and hearing with the help of cochlear implants under a special scheme of the union government.
The occasion was also marked by distribution of sewing machines to a number of widows as part of an initiative of the “Loomba Foundation” headed by Lord Raj Loomba who was present on the occasion along with his wife.
During his brief speech, Lord Loomba – who spoke in Hindi – recalled the struggles of his own mother who had to bring up seven children after the untimely death of their father and said his efforts were aimed at providing necessary skills and equipment to women who had met with similar tragedies.