2018-11-01 07:44:14 UTC
An open letter to Goa Governor, Mridula Sinha
My Take by Monika Kshatriya
My Take this week is by Monika
Kshatriya, a disability rights
activist and freelance
journalist based in Goa. Monika
has over 17 years' experience
in TV news and has an abiding
interest in issues concerning
persons with disabilities,
environment and gender
non-conformists and continues
reporting on these issues.
Dear Ms. Governor,
On Saturday, at a celebratory event in Porvorim, you managed
to turn a victorious mood to a bitter and anguished one. With
just one line, you displayed not just your utter lack of
understanding of diversity, but you also managed to trample
upon the very Constitution that you swore to uphold while
taking an oath to office.
You were invited as the chief guest at the prize distribution
ceremony of the T20 Series between India, Sri Lanka and
England. This sporting event was organised by the Goa Cricket
Association and the Cricket Association for the Blind in India.
The mood was jubilant because the hosts, Team India, managed
to claim the cup. This was a moment to celebrate the special
abilities of the players, the grit and determination of a
team that fought against all kinds of physical and mental
barriers to reaching this far. What everyone expected or hoped
to hear from you were words of praise for these path
breakers, who are an inspiration to many sportspersons in
this cricket-obsessed nation of ours.
Instead, you chose to heap a huge dollop of humiliation
served with a garnish of insult and served with deep
insensitivity. You said "Blind people are a mistake committed
by God and it is a miracle such people can play cricket".
Ms Governor, today you hold the exalted office of the
governor. You are sworn to uphold the law. We address you as
"Her Excellency", not because you were born in a certain
family, religion or caste, but because you are appointed by
the President himself to the high office to ensure that the
Constitution is adhered to.
Let me enlighten you about what the Constitution says in this
Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act,
2016 the government is required to inter alia,
ensure/protect a disabled person’s right to
equality, dignity and respect for his/her integrity
equally with others; right to personal liberty,
right not to be discriminated against; right to
live in a community, and right to equal protection.
Clearly in complete disregard of this Act, you have
attempted to strip persons with disabilities of the
dignity they deserve.
Cricket for the Blind is a specialised sport. It requires a
special skill to play it and clearly not everyone can. I
assure you that even a blind-folded Sachin Tendulkar or Virat
Kohli will not be able to clear the qualification round for
the district team. Clearly, you failed to see the abilities
of these sports persons. All you could focus on was their
Also, it didn't take a "miracle" for these sportsmen to
perform, but sheer sweat and hard work in perfecting their
game. A person with visual impairment has to cross a million
hurdles to get to a sports field. After years of struggle one
reaches the international level and plays a game. And then to
be told that you are god’s mistake - is demeaning to say the least.
Ms. Governor, may I also jog your memory. This is
not the first time a right wing politician has
repeated this idea. Can you please enlighten me
about which text of the Sanatan dharma propounds
this idea of God's mistake? So you might argue on
the "Karma” theory, that persons with Disability,
whom the Prime Minster has lovingly termed "Diyang"
(one with divine limbs), are a result of mistakes
made in their last birth. Well, then you must admit
that one the most revered poets of the Bhakti
movement, Surdas, was a huge mistake.
Finally, please don't put this down to a mistake of the
Almighty, but to your inability to understand diversity and
the law. Your inability to understand that each of us,
irrespective of our physical features, is a perfect creation.