“Black holes ain’t black as they are painted.They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe.So if you feel you are in a black hole,don't give up-there’s a way out.”

                     -Stephen Hawking

Inclusion has been a concern since time immemorial.Estrangement of people,behavior and characteristics which does not fit into thesocially accepted ‘normal’ is a common practice in the society.A filter called ‘the disability status’ was always placed before dealing with person with disability

The Journey of Inclusion

                   

The term “disability”,antonym of “ability” in simple terms can be agreed as incapacity to do something. It is considered as the lack of capacity to accomplish or carry out a particular task or activity in its perfect way. In that case, is every perfect human being born with or without any impairment capable of doing anything and everything in this world perfectly ? The answer would be a huge NO! And that doesn't make them any lesser than their counterparts. Likewise, a disability or a different ability does not make any individual inferior or less important.

                 Stephen Hawking, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Vaikom Vijayalakshmi, Hellen Keller, Albert Einstein achieved milestones that most of the abled “being around us couldn't. But still most of our friends with disabilities are seen inferior and are subjected to exclusion.

The Ancient Indian Scenario

In times when life depended majorly on nature for survival, when daily economics wasn’t poisoned with thoughts of greed. The activities for survival were primitive and could easily involve the persons with disabilities. For example if the ancient gurukul system of education if was found difficult for them to follow, they were trained to raise themselves through other life skills such as animal husbandry, craftworks etc and hence wasn’t excluded from participation in economic activities.   

           But as we go ahead in time, the times of discrimination based on caste, class etc even sowed seeds of discrimination of the differently abled. The thoughts of the superior man in conquering the world around him took away the concepts of egalitarianism and inclusion. The same happened with multiple industrial revolutions, it failed to take alongside with it people with disabilities and left them behind to be excluded. It focused mainly in concepts of efficiency, promoted by industrial thinkers such as Fredrich Taylor, Henry Fayol etc.

            Now we are revisiting the value system that we left behind and going back in time to solve the issue of exclusion and help them walk alongside through initiatives such as CSR, IEDC-1974, National Policy On Education, 1986, PIED,1986, etc.

Inclusion at the eve of Indian Independence

The West started leading the way towards inclusion after the second world War, when thousands of soldiers returning to their homes were left with disabilities. These soldiers or rather heroes of war became the torch bearers of theDisability Rights Movement in the west.

              The Indian colonies still did not witness any such movements and continued to see the assistance of Indian society towards its disabled population as charity rather than legitimate rights of persons with disabilities.

             The colonial initiatives towards inclusion seemed to have been expensive to afford for the colonies. It was also inaccessible as it was mostly located in urban areas, having a coverage of around only 2%.

             On the eve of Indian Independence, India had around hundred special schools and centres run by the government as well as NGOs. The inadequacy in the number of centers due to the mammoth population further worsened the situation of inclusion. Independent India had to act quickly to reverse these inadequacies.

The World Order

            The World Order for Inclusion has to be further enhanced in tackling regional barriers. The global guidelines along with grassroot analysis will be the most effective way in bringing about inclusion in its true sense. For example the Sustainable Development Goals no: 10 which directs to strive to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities, if need to be realised in its true sense has to come up with better policies and its efficient implementation alongside transparent social audits at the grassroot level.

Independent India’s baby steps towards Inclusion

Independent India, upholding the value system of Vasudeva Kutumbakam, stood up to bring all of its citizens, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and other differences under one umbrella so as to reverse the damages caused by the Britishers. In the same manner, India did put in efforts to bring about inclusion for persons with disabilities and took up various initiatives such as Kothari Commission, 1964, National Policy for Education, 1968, Integrated Education for Disabled Children etc so as to include them in their capacities to contribute towards Nation building.

              Voices came out loud and united towards the early 1980s.There was a clear-cut idea of what their demands were,unlike the scattered voices here and there.Various NGOs stood up for the disability sector and thus it gained momentum to the Disability Rights Movement.The Person with Disability Act of 1995 reserved 3%.of government posts for the PwD.This Act was a milestone in the vigorous venture towards identifying the rights and laws for the people with disabilities.

Addressing the challenges

 

India being a diverse country geographically as well as culturally would require a bottom up approach like in all other sectors to bring about effective and positive inclusion. There is a diverse range of different abilities just like the diversity of India, which demands or requires innovative and constructive solutions so as to bring about inclusion with its full essence.

           Solutions these days are much more innovative unlike ancient times. Just like how industrial revolutions brought about changes, so does have technology evolved to provide solutions for inclusion into the post industrial world.

            An example for the same is the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. This makes information available to all irrespective of difference in abilities. Alexa, Google Assistant, and other Artificial Intelligence based systems makes life easy for all irrespective of differences. Such technological innovations alongside with certain sector specific policy interventions, infrastructural developments and targeted skilling, all of this implemented precisely without or with minimum flaws can give India a leap ahead with most developed nations, in terms of achieving inclusion.It is equally important to educate and spread awareness among the following three sectors of people:

● people with disabilities

● their caretakers

● people who interact frequently with them.

Some walk towards their dreams,some run,some use wheelchairs and some crutches. Irrespective of the modes, the routes, the struggles, the importance of it's accomplishment remains unchanged.