The Way Forward

Gandhiji said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

This is exactly what ADAPT has been unswervingly committed to, for over 45 years – to change the historic perspective of society towards the disabled, and create a civil society movement based on the bedrock of social justice and human rights.

Our goal remains constant: to build an India that cares for its needy, its helpless, its poor and its disabled. An India that celebrates diversity, and includes all, as it moves towards equal opportunity and equal participation.

In such a vast sub-continent, inclusion is certainly going to be a challenge. Yet, micro efforts of civil society can generate macro outcomes. Inclusion is an evolutionary process, and it needs preparation. But it doesn’t need exorbitant funding – it needs a mindset and an ideology, a supportive attitude from a well- established community.

In concrete terms, India can work towards inclusion with a robust, reliable survey of all children with special needs, by setting up a framework of education hubs and resource centres to reach children even in the remotest regions, enhancing the health and education systems so that regular teachers and medical personnel are trained to deal with cerebral palsy and by rigorous monitoring of all initiatives.

The country’s largest pre-school programme – the Integrated Child Development Scheme – still does not include children with disability in its target groups. A change in policy, and the specific training of anganwadi workers on the ground – can achieve a quantum leap in inclusion.

As Rabindranath Tagore said, “…the problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact.” From our children, we learn the way forward. To continue with courage, grit and determination, and to succeed.