Blind activist Bertha G Dkhar could have easily got a government job on government quota. She would have been doing insignificant work or no work at all and yet paid by the government. That’s how physically challenged are ‘helped’ by the government everywhere. However, Bertha chose not be one among those and chose a path of struggle. She worked as a principal of a school for the disabled run by the Bethany Society of Shillong for over a decade. Her last salary drawn was Rs 8,000! But she has no qualms about it. She only regrets that the government failed to help her to help others, especially the disabled children. The government thinks by allotting a work of printing Braille books it has done a favour to the Society. The government allots Rs 150 to bear the cost of books for every primary school student covered under the Sarva Siksha Abhijan. The amount does not consider the multiple times cost of Braille books. There should be some head thinking about this simple fact and consider raising the cost of books for the disabled children.
The famous double amputee athlete Oscar Pistorious would never have scaled such height had the South African government’s support to him was limited to offering him a job only. No person in this world can rise to fame without support from others – family, government, public, organizations etc. It is more true for the physically challenged people, especially the blind. They need support in every step. The government should not think its responsibility ends in providing them with job quota and loans, but also to see how to utilise them to help others. By empowering them in their work, hundreds of other disabled people can be inspired to make a mark in this world, which otherwise looks impossible for them.
A better world for the disabled is possible if the government makes sincere attempt to free organizations like Bethany Society from financial burden. Such organisations can do wonder because they have the required expertise, experience, environment and over and above a true intent, which may not be with the concerned government department.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on May 3, 2014)