Rema Nagarajan | TNN | Jan 23, 2016, 07.15 PM IST
organisations working for disability rights and people with
disabilities themselves have categorically rejected the use of the word
divyang coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to describe them, but he
pressed on with using divyang at a function in Varanasi where he
distributed aid equipment to several thousand disabled persons.
rights activists had written to the PM on January 17 appealing to him
not to propagate "the insulting discriminatory , euphemistic and
condescending word further", but judging by his repeated use of the
term on Friday it has had little effect.
PM justified using divyang saying: "What I want to do is change the
mindset about differently-abled people. When I say let's use the word
`divyang', it is about that change."
Several in the
disability sector expressed shock and dismay that the PM insisted on
using the word. "If the PM is commit ted to our welfare, as he said to
day, why is he not taking our feedback on using divyang?
impose this word on us? It is not for other people to decide what to
call us. It is to be done in consultation with us in keeping with the
slogan `nothing about us without us'. We like the words disability and
viklang and we do not think they are insulting," said Dr Satendra
Singh, one of the signatories of the January 17 letter.
repeated use of the word has also prodded the Na tional Platform for
the Rights of the Disabled to issue an open letter to the PM saying
that while they did not question the motive behind coining of the
expression, mere change of terminology could not change the way the
disabled were treated. "We presumed it to be a oneoff remark, emerging
from some stray thoughts. But in the subsequent days we were bombarded
with the use of the term `divyaang', not by you alone but various others
in the government, who have taken the cue," the latest letter said.
and marginalisation can't be addressed by using patronising terms like
`divyang'. On the contrary , they will only invoke sympathy and
underline that charity is what counts," stated the letter ending with a
request to the PM "to refrain from using the term and also shelve any
plan that the government may be making to officially use this term".
Source: Times of India 23 Jan 2016