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‘Accessible India’ Campaign Aims at a More Inclusive Society

Anokhi DIY Anokhi Today Breaking News & Sports World Dec 06, 2015


In a long overdue and much awaited move towards inclusivity, India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, launched the “Accessible India” campaign on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities across the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was originally scheduled to inaugurate the campaig but was rushed to Chennai to review the flood situation there, The Indian Express reports.

The national campaign aims to make government buildings, airports and railways stations accessible for differently-abled people, an issue that has received little to no attention in the past.

The timeline to implement the changes is fairly ambitious, with the government planning to make all international airports in the country fully accessible by mid-2016. In addition, 75 railway stations and approximately 5,000 public buildings nationwide are to be made accessible during the same period. Domestic airports are to follow suit by early 2018.



International airports like the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai are to be fully accessible by mid 2016.
Photo Credit: dnaindia.com

While the plan is being hailed as progressive, critics point out that it only addresses current buildings and modes of transport, The Times of India reports.

The approach is being called cosmetic, focussing on retro-fitting existing infrastructure. The campaign does not make long term provisions for future growth, making no changes to the national building code to include a mandatory clause requiring new structures to be fully accessible. Similarly, while railway stations are being overhauled, the coaches themselves don’t seem to be part of the plan.

Despite the shortcomings, most disability rights activists agree that the issue of accessibility has never been brought into such sharp focus before, and PM Modi’s support is a major boost to the cause. In a message to the attendees of the launch event read by Jaitley, the Prime Minister encouraged all central and state ministries to make every effort to help the new initiative succeed. In addition, 52 National Awards were presented during the event to persons with disabilities for outstanding achievements in various fields.



52 National Awards were presented at the 'Accessible India' launch event.
Photo Credit: Accessible India Facebook Page

A mobile app was also launched at the event to crowd source information on inaccessible buildings and other public spaces.



The 'Accessible India' mobile app is available for download on Google Play.
Photo Credit: Digital India Twitter Page
 

The campaign has been received with cautious optimism by the disabled community and at the very least, seen as a move in the right direction.
 
Article sources: The Times of India, The Indian Express
Main Image Photo Credit: Accessible India Facebook Page

Dilshad Burman

Dilshad Burman

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Dilshad Burman is an award winning TV host and Canadian media personality.   Born in Mumbai, India, she was surrounded by its creative energy and grew up with a passion for music, film and television. While completing her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from The University of Mumbai, she i...

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