Today is a proud moment for India as a country. Two of our athletes bagged gold in the Tokyo Paralympics 2021. Our ace shooter Avani Lekhara and Javelin Record Breaker Sumit Antil have created history for us. We are extremely proud of them. On a personal level, as a person with hearing disability I am very happy that my fellows are making it happen. Avani has become the first woman Indian athlete to bag the gold for India while Sumit broke his own records thrice in this tournament to bag his gold. They are getting recognized. And almost everyone was waiting for one man to react to these amazing athletes. Yes, you guessed it right. Mr. Anand Mahindra.
Only last week, Padmashree Deepa Malik who’s a paralympian herself and heads the Paralympic Committee of India, requested all automobile industry leaders from our country to research and make SUVs for people with disabilities like she is using in Tokyo. And as we all expected, Mr. Mahindra promptly put his crew on the task. Today he kind of reiterated his commitment along with a promise to give the first of its kind to our Golden Girl via his twitter handle. However, while replying to this tweet a guy sid correcting Mr. Mahindra’s use of the word “disabilities”.
It’s not about the label
Sadly, part of the twitter thread is now all about the “correct” label for the community. If ‘disabilities’ is ok? Or we should call it ‘different abilities’. Some might even argue to call us people with ‘special abilities’. We Indians are so fascinated with our habit of labeling everything. Our honorable PM has coined a new label for us, Divyang. Personally, when I hear that word, I feel some mythological or mysterious limb has grown on my body.
Every language has a word for every disability. A person without eye sight is called blind person in English, आंधळा (Āndhaḷā) in marathi and so on. In a lame attempt to feel compassionate, sympathetic for us, people started creating such odd labels.
However, these specific terms are adjectives. They describe a PERSON with particular disability. While addressing one should not forget that you are talking about a person. Your focus should be a person and not a disability. Many forums and organizations, like United Nations have issued guidelines about inclusive language. They all prescribe to identify someone with disability as a person with disability and not to use the terms “handicapped,” “differently-abled,” “unfortunate,” or “special needs.”
We, the people with disabilities
We only need recognition and acceptance as fellow human from you and not your sympathy. Our disability is a condition which we have accepted and we are leading our lives happily. And as rightly proven by Avani and Sumit, hell yeah we are successful like every other person. So, let’s just call a spade a spade for once and accept us as we are. Once again, Congratulations to our champions and excitedly looking forward to engineering mastery of Mahindra and Mahindra.
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