The campaign at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
No lame excuses. No chip on the shoulder for the so-called raw deal. No begging for favours or money.
Around 40 disabled people from across Jharkhand under the umbrella of Jharkhand Viklang Manch gathered at Ranchi’s Albert Ekka Chowk on Monday morning for a signature campaign on the occasion of International Day of People with Disability.
Mostly victims of polio or limb deformity from birth, they demonstrated by example how they had risen, albeit aided by crutches, to carve their destiny.
Introducing themselves as teachers, shopkeepers, repairmen, social workers and businessmen, they collected signatures from people, asking to be treated with dignity.
“I go around my block telling other special persons about government welfare schemes, where and how to get disability certificates and the like,” said polio-afflicted Narayan Kumar Mahto (25) from Ormanjhi, who has a masters in political science from Ranchi University.
Narayan, who has modified a scooter, drives it well. “I am mobile, active and earning,” he said. “I am no different from any other youth my age. I’d like society to give me the respect I’ve earned,” he said.
Many disabled who run shops and business centres, train other physically challenged and create hob opportunities for them.
“I run a general store, selling items of domestic use. My wife Premlata, also physically challenged, helps me in my endeavours. We have employed three workers in our shop, one of whom is disabled,” said Dhanbad-based Natwar Shah Mishra (40), also polio afflicted.
Mishra added that he was active on the social scene.
“I have carried out campaigns on crucial issues such as environment, family planning, HIV/AIDS and citizen’s duty to vote,” he said.
With him was Ranjit Kumar Paswan (42), his physically challenged helper. “I not only work with Mishra in his shop, I am also a trained electrician and take freelance orders,” he said.
In Godda, disabled entrepreneurs such as Uttam Kumar Sen, Srikant Mandal and Praveen Kumar Bhagat have set up shops and are running profitable business.
Bhagat has a bicycle store while Mandal and Sen run pump set repair shops.
“Sen has trained and employed disabled persons to repair pumps,” said Shivnandan Mahto (39), a physically challenged man from Godda who tutors children to earn a living.
On himself, he said: “A graduate from A.N. College, Dumka, I earn around Rs 6,000 a month and run my small family. I never let my deformed foot get in the way of my aims. I teach a few differently abled children. Besides lessons, I teach them to hold their head high.”
Do you know of any special person with a success story?