We all have often been frustrated with the ignorant behavior of the government in India to the needs of persons with disability. So much so that we can hardly find any substantial action item in the manifestos of any political party. Indeed, there is a need to bring about a CHANGE in the way people with disability are being looked and treated. However, this change can only be materialized if we change. Let’s not merely be a silent observer and be a victim of the political undoing but, let us decide to be the Pipe-piper who can lead and bring about the much desirable change. Let’s all vote and make a difference.
The Lok Sabha Elections is the most important direct democratic process of our country’s state of affair. It allows electing the Members of the Parliament who will be OUR voice and the voice of the 1.2 billion citizens in all decisions taken at national level which will include more than 70 million citizens with disabilities.
We have the power to bring a change
There is a myth that the disabled population, being small in numbers, cannot influence the electoral outcome. Consequently majority of us are not motivated to engage with the political class. However, here are some facts which will give you some food for thought:
The 15th Lok Sabha election is expected to host 740 million registered voters. India has a population of close to 70 million people with one or the other form of disability. If we include our families, neighbours and colleagues, we form more than 50% of the voting population. This makes the disabled population of India as one of the largest voting groups with significant power to influence the fate of any political establishment in India.
Our voting upsets political calculations
Political parties know how many votes they are going to get from their constituency, and they know how to get them. Hence they don't really want us to vote, as we can upset their calculations, being an unknown factor. Hence, politicians themselves perpetuate the myth that it makes no difference if we vote or not. It is simple arithmetic that the fewer the people who come out to vote, the fewer the votes that are needed to win an election.
Our First accessible Election in India
The General Elections 2009 is the first accessible and disabled friendly elections since India became independent in 1947! We will be able to exercise our fundamental right in a dignified and an independent manner. The Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to ensure that facilities are made available for the disabled voters in every polling booth.. There would be ramps, Braille stickers on the Electronic Voting Machines and so on to ensure that disabled citizens of India have equal right in the world’s largest democracy.
Our vote will shape our own world
Every action we take everyday determines what sort of country we want to live in, and shapes us. Voting is one such action; whether we vote or not, it is going to shape us and our country. Majority of us could not vote all these years, due to many reasons including lack of access to polling booths. Hence, we have been ignored. We need to shape our lives positively now. We should show to the Political Parties that our votes matter!
We have to become ‘Visible’ - Make life difficult for Election Authorities
‘Out of sight is out of mind’! This has been our reality. Facilities for disabled people are not made stating the excuse that there are hardly any users! We (disabled people) do not use the facilities because they are not designed for us! This is a vicious circle. We have to break this circle! Supreme Court has ordered the Election Commission to make facilities for disabled voters. However, it is possible that Election Authorities may not have made those facilities, thinking we may not come to vote! Therefore, we need to make ourselves ‘visible’. We have to demand the facilities
that have been promised to us.. We have to force Election Authorities to provide the facilities.
Even if you have no reason to Vote this Election, we would still urge you to go and Vote just to make life difficult for the Election Authorities!