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Breaking the silence on disability: millions of Indians need extra support during the pandemic

It’s time to end the social taboo on talking about disability

Breaking the silence on disability: millions of Indians need extra support during the pandemic

It’s time to end the social taboo on talking about disability

Breaking the silence on disability: millions of Indians need extra support during the pandemic

It’s time to end the social taboo on talking about disability

Breaking the silence on disability: millions of Indians need extra support during the pandemic

It’s time to end the social taboo on talking about disability

People with disabilities have struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic. Why isn’t the government doing more to help?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone – but some groups are especially vulnerable. Many people with disabilities in India have been experiencing particular difficulties in daily life, and struggle to obtain food and basic health care.

Disability isn’t something that’s often discussed in India. There’s still a sense of taboo surrounding both physical and mental differences that causes people to look the other way, and it’s often assumed that someone with a disability must have done something bad in a previous life.

PM Narendra Modi has attempted to address this negative attitude, choosing to use the term divyang instead of viklang – but disability activists have condemned this use of the word, which conveys the meaning of “a divine body”, as “discriminatory , euphemistic and condescending”. People with disabilities don’t want to be seen as gods any more than they want to be treated as demons – they simply want the respect due to any other member of society.

According to the 2011 census, nearly 27 million people in India are living with some form of disability. That’s a lot of people – and it’s probably an underestimate.

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