In Pics: ‘Samarth’ – An Initiative To Build An Inclusive Society For Persons With Disabilities

To promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV, has launched the initiative Samarth. It is a step towards creating a more aware and inclusive society towards people with disabilities in India

Published On: December 07, 2023 06:55 | 30 Photos

Behind the scenes of the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV.

The team is all prepared to kick-start the initiative 'Samarth' to support People with Disabilities (PwDs).

Several para athletes, including Deepa Malik, President of Paralympic India, took a pledge to help build a more inclusive society for people with disabilities.

People pledge to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and empower people with disabilities.

"We are disabled and proud," Dr Satendra Singh, Professor of Physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi & Co-chair, International Council for Disability Inclusion in MedEd, said at the launch of 'Samarth' by Hyundai. "People are born with impairments, it's the society that makes them disabled. We do not shy away from our disability, we are proud of it," Dr Singh added.

Tiffany Brar, Disability Rights Advocate and Founder of Jyothirgamaya Foundation, discussed some of the early interventions required for women and children with disabilities, such as allocating resource teachers in the government schools, according to the children's needs instead of a clustered model. For women with locomotive disability, and autism, among others, there should be exclusive classes on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene, Ms Brar said.

Aditi Tatkare, Women and Child Development Minister, Maharashtra, joined the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV, to discuss the changes brought in the lives of people with disabilities (PwDs) after the establishment of a Divyang department in the state government. Maharashtra is the first state to set up a dedicated department for people with disabilities, with one of the highest budgets, Minister Tatkare informed.

India's first wheelchair model and founder, #MyTrainToo, Virali Modi, joined the panel discussion at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, to highlight the lack of inclusive transportation in the railway sector for people with disabilities (PwDs). "Why aren't they accessible to us and why are we subjected to such kind of scrutiny? We are not luggage or just pieces of flesh. We have our dignity and integrity," said Ms Modi.

Joining the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, Tarun Garg, Chief Operating Officer, Hyundai Motor India, talked about reaching out to the larger audience to support people with disabilities. Mr Garg said, "We alone cannot change the landscape. So, with NDTV, we want to encourage all Indians individually and as a community to equip the environment around them and generate equal mobility opportunities for people with disabilities."

'Tu Sochle Ab Toh Udhana Hai' - students of the Jormal Periwal Memorial Senior Secondary School for the Blind, gave a soulful performance at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV.

"People with Disabilities (PwDs) have been shunned and devoid of enjoying the exuberance of what sports brings to an individual. We are looking forward to getting young PwDs into the world of para sports and taking them to the best of their ability," said Deepthi Bopaiah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Go Sports Foundation, at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth'.

Dr Mahantesh GK, Founder Managing Trustee, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, joined the panel on the launch of 'Samarth' by Hyundai, to talk about the work done by the trust for the visually impaired individuals to pursue cricket as a professional sport. He said, "With Hyundai, we intend to train and promote grass root level men and women blind cricketers for national and international level competitions. Cricket is not just a sport, it builds competitive qualities among visually impaired persons."

Joining the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, Dopamine-Responsive Dystonia, Sayomdeb Mukherjee, discussed how he overcame his severe disability caused by a rare genetic disorder. Today, he is an accomplished individual having written two books, hosted his own radio show and acted in a film for which he has won an award.

Ashwini Angadi, Founder & Trustee, Ashwini Angadi Trust that runs Belaku Academy, a residential school for the visually impaired talked about the importance of education, and the need to use technology to bridge the gaps in education and accessibility issues for people with disabilities, at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai.

"Education, employment and accessibility remain a challenge for people with disabilities," said Arman Ali, Disability Rights advocate, at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV.

Brajesh Pathak, Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, highlighted the efforts being made by the state government to ease mobility and make public transport more accessible for people with disabilities. He identified providing education and healthcare to persons with disabilities as priorities of his government.

Highlighting numerous initiatives undertaken by the central government for skilling people with disabilities and providing credit facilities to economically empower them to be self-reliant, Union Minister Smriti Irani talked about a key initiative that her Ministry is launching. At the launch of 'Samarth' by Hyundai, Ms Irani said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development through 14 lakh Anganwadis is launching one of the largest campaigns in the country, in partnership with district medical officers, Ministry of Social Justice, to cover almost 7.5 crore children under the age of six, to identify any form of disability, to further enable the right kind of support needed by these children.

Dr Virendra Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, said that in an effort to make education and jobs more accessible for people with disabilities, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 increased reservations for the disabled in government jobs, government recognised schools and also widened the categories identified as disability from 7 to 21 categories. He also said that the New Education Policy (NEP) ensures that textbooks for classes 1 to 6 classes are made available in Indian Sign Language.

Joining the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, detailed what the government has done for 75,000 people with disabilities in the state. The minister said, "First, we try to understand their emotions and specific requirements and with that in mind, we are providing them with ramps for easier accessibility at bus stands, in private buses, government buses and so on. Where there are no ramps, we provide railings. At hospitals, wheelchairs are made available. Disabled-friendly toilets have been made available in 3,300 schools. All facilities have also been provided in 117 government accommodations to make them accessible."

Meet Dhanya Ravi, who was born with a rare genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) that led to over 200 fractures by the time she became a teenager. At the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, Dhanya narrated her story and how she suffered throughout her childhood. Due to lack of awareness about her disability, she had to opt for home schooling as opposed to traditional schooling. But, that didn't deter Dhanya's spirit. She refused to let her condition define her and today she is known as Disability Evangelist.

Aradhana Lal, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & ESG, Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd, joined the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai. She highlighted Lemon Tree's efforts towards promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities for the last 16 years. "There are people with different disabilities present in our hotel - deaf, people with physical, intellectual and developmental disability, and people with low visibility and neuro divergent," said Ms Lal.

"People with disabilities are viewed as objects of pity, and it is thought that all they want is food, shelter and clothing. They have no other requirements or hopes besides these three," said Nipun Malhotra, Disability Rights Advocate and Founder of Nipman Foundation, at the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV.

Damini Ghosh, Team Lead (Disability Inclusion and Access), Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy joined the discussion on creating inclusive spaces for people with disabilities, during the launch of the initiative 'Samarth' by Hyundai, in partnership with NDTV. It is a movement for equal rights for people with disabilities. Ms Ghosh talked about the current laws and how their implementation is the need of the hour.

At the launch of 'Samarth' by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, parent Namrata Chaudhari Kapur shared her hopes, fears and aspirations of raising a child with disabilities.

Talking about the challenges faced by people with disabilities, Shayama Chona, mother of Tamana Chona who was born with Cerebral Palsy, said, "Has the government thought about assistive living where you can have a lifestyle which matches the lifestyle of an individual child with any kind of problem and will be able to take the responsibility and adhere to high standards of care?"

In his keynote speech at the launch event of 'Samarth' by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri emphasised that countries and societies are assessed in terms of how humane and sensitive they are to those segments of the population which require special attention. He said that while there are enough laws and regulations to protect the rights of those with disabilities, it is the responsibility of states to ensure enforcement and compliance.

Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari, said that people with disability don't need sympathy, they need their rights protected and equal opportunity. Highlighting some of the existing challenges in making public transportation disabled-friendly, Mr Gadkari said that currently 32 percent of the total number of buses in the country are partially accessible and just 20 percent of the total number of buses are fully accessible.

Sheetal Devi, world's first armless archer and the para athlete supported by Hyundai as a part of the initiative 'Samarth', shared her journey of becoming a sportsperson. She gave the credits of her win to her parents, trainers and her coach, Preeti, who had introduced her to the world of sports. The 16-year-old made headlines across the world by winning three medals - two gold and one silver in the Asian Para Games 2023, held in Hangzhou in China.

Meet the para athletes, who have achieved feet in their field of sports, along with the ones who are being supported by Hyundai as a part of the initiative 'Samarth', for Paris 2024 Paralympics. These include, Yogesh Kathuniya, Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Silver medalist in Discus, Prachi Yadav, Gold & Silver, Para Canoe, Asian Para Games 2023, Sheetal Devi, Double gold medalist, Para Archery, Asian Para Games 2023, Abhishek Chamoli, Javelin Gold & Shot Put Silver, Italian Open 2023 World Para Athletics Grand Prix, Simran Sharma, National medal winning Para shooter, Lakshmi Jadala, Indian Lawn Tennis player with an intellectual impairment, selected for Australian Open 2023.

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About The Initiative

Samarth by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, is an initiative that seeks to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

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