Treatment of Disabled people in India



Disabled people have a tough time dealing with their disability.  In India, even tougher time is given to the disabled by the world around them.


Socially, the disabled are just not very “welcome” in Indian society.  Its not that people are “unkind” or “hostile” towards the disabled in India, but often they aren’t very “understanding” of disability or disabled people.  Instead of empathy, they often show excessive sympathy, making the disabled person feel embarrassed.  Disable access is still a rarity in India, businesses and government institutions just don’t see why the disabled would want to visit them !


Guilt, embarrassment, shame, discomfort, lack of respect or consideration etc are generally the reason disabled people do not venture out of the safety of their home / family in India.  Disability is seen as a curse and hence those who are disabled, are considered to be cursed.  People often do not appreciate them turning up at “auspicious occasions” like marriages and births. 


The disabled often feel “guilty” for being a burden on their family and friends.  In a country where there is no free government support or medicines, disability is often a financial drain on family resources.  This is especially true if the disabled person looses their job / business and becomes reliant on others on financial matters. 


Typically, Asian families feel compelled to support each other and they often close ranks to help each other out in times of need.  Disability is treated as a “challenge” and family members close ranks to help out.  However, this often very suffocating and the disabled person feels guilty for making others sacrifice their lives for them.


The disabled are often suppose to feel “grateful” to those around them, for taking care of them.  After all, its their fault that others are having to give up their time, energy and money !  Such attitudes of others “sacrificing for you”, often deepens the sense of the disabled person being buried under the “mercies and kindness” of others.  Sadly, it does not feel merciful or kind.  Its oppressive and tiring. 


Indians are known for “staring”.  They stare at everything and anything at any time of the day or night.  Disabled people are just one more thing to stare at.  Though it may not be “personal”, the disabled certainly feel uncomfortable being stared at by the world around them.  It is embarrassing enough being “different” from people around you, but to have it being constantly pointed out, is very uncomfortable.  Yet, the disabled in India endure it on a daily basis.


The worst aspect is when people make the disabled person feel that this is their own fault !  This is a terrible way to treat the disabled.  Instead of providing spiritual solace, religious philosophies often make the disabled feel even more guilty. 


For Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, disability is karmic retribution for their past actions.

For Muslims, it’s the will of God and they must submit to it uncomplaining, after all, who are they to question the will of God ? 

Christians in Asia feel disability – or any “calamity” – is the wage of sins.  Hence it’s the disabled person’s own fault and they are being punished by God for their own actions.


Why can't people see that helping a disabled person is a way of discharging your own karmic debt you may owe to them ?  Helping a disabled person is also a great way to generate positive karmic balance.  So why not help them out for your own selfish gain ?

Even if the disability is God's will, wont God be pleased that you are helping a fellow human ?  Doesn't God appreciate generous, thoughtful acts of kindness ?  Wont your help to the need be looked on favourably by God ?


Truly, unselfish acts of pure kindness are closest to worship of God in all living things !


India has a long way to go before the disabled feel comfortable, let alone welcome there.




PS - this was written after talking, listening and observing disabled people in India.


© Bhagwat    [email protected]


Return to Index

Return to Bhagwat's main page

Return to ShriNathji's Haveli