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On the 16th and 17th of this month, Miranda House witnessed an event for differently abled students called “Deconstructing disability” organized by Lakshita, the enabling society devoted to creating awareness about disabilities. This society which was started in July 2012 has since then organized seminars on RTI acts and plans to host many such events and inter-college competition in Delhi University to highlight the importance of inclusion of handicapped people in economic, social and political arenas.

The first day of the event started around noon and comprised a small speech by Supriya, the President of Lakshita and movie screening of three episodes of the TV series “Nazar ya Nazariya”, which is an initiative of George Abraham, CEO of Score Foundation. The three episodes were based on “Gender, Women and Employment”. The seminar hall of the college was full with more than 100 students of different colleges witnessing the event. “I personally believe that for a country like India, it’s important to start investing in disabled people as a resource, instead of considering them as a community that has to be looked after”, said Mr. George Abraham, while addressing the audience.

Day 2 witnessed three panel discussions, with four speakers in each session. Dr. Pratibha Jolly, Principal of Miranda House, welcomed the listeners after which the first panel discussion which talked about “Understanding Disability” began. The panel included Komal Kamra, Associate Professor of Khalsa college as the mediator, George Abraham, Poonam Natrajan, Chairperson of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability, Arun C Rao, Executive Director, the DeafWay foundation and Sonal Sena, Director of Shruti Information. “Gender, Accessibility and Employment” was the topic of second panel discussion with Renu Addlakha, Professor and Deputy Director, CWDS, Anjlee Agarwal, Executive Director of the National Centre for Accessible Environment, Dipendra Manocha, Coordinator for Developing Countries Program, DAISY consortium and Niranjan Khatri general manager of ITC hotel, as speakers.

The third panel discussion revolved around “Law and Human rights”. Radhika Alkazi, Founder Director of Aarth-Astha, Merry Barua, Founder Director for Autism and Subhash C. Vashishth, Program Coordinator of Svayam-National Center for Inclusive Environment were the three panelists for this round.
The session ended with a performance by Anukriti, a member of Hindi Dramatic Society.

“I feel that there is an urgent need to help handicapped students make an identity of their own. They need to be understood. We see people with disabilities and maybe even sympathize with them, but we do not understand them. We need to provide them the freedom and space with which they can come out of their shell. The purpose of this event was to inspire them and I feel extremely satisfied with the response”, said Dr Reema Bhatia, Convener of the society. “We worked really hard for this event and now that it’s finally done, I feel happy that our efforts paid off”, says Raavi Aggarwal, a volunteer of Lakshita.

Another example of the callous attitude of the administration at Sri Venkateswara College was seen on 21st January. Few manholes were opened up for routine maintenance purposes; however, these were left uncovered for a long time with no sign to warn passersby. Due to this careless attitude, a handicapped person almost fell into one. The person, shocked and enraged, went to complain about the same to the Vice Principal, Dr. Rajinder Kumar, who is also currently the acting Principal. The victim was mistreated by the administration staff, including the Vice Principal following which he was forced to call the police.

The college administration and Vice Principal Dr. Kumar have both been infamous for their unfriendly attitude towards students, which seems to have hit a new low. What is surprising is that amidst all this and even after the college’s ‘routine maintenance work’, one of the manholes continued to overflow this morning. The leaking manhole was situated in front of the various course counters, where students deal with the admin staff on a day-to-day basis. However, the response is mostly on those days when Mishra Ji and his colleagues are in a mood to deal with students. The incident that took place at Venky is just another example of how the administrative staff at most DU colleges treats its students, despite repeated complaints.


(Writer does not wish to be named)