The Central government will now use term ‘divyang’ (divine body) instead of ‘viklang’ for persons with disability. Union minister for social justice Thawar Chand Gehlot on Tuesday announced that notification in this regard is expected to be issued next week.”Person with disability is a universal term adopted by the UN and in India so far it was ‘viklang’. Decision has been taken that it will be replaced with ‘divyang’ which is a very nice word. Process of issuing notification has alredy been started.
Change in nomenclature was proposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during launch of Accessible India on December 3, 2015. Later, in “Maan Ki Baat’ in December end, Modi had suggested the same.
Exclusion and marginalisation cannot be addressed by using patronising terms like ‘divyang’.
On the contrary, they will only invoke sympathy and underline that charity is what counts.Persons with disabilities, overcoming various odds and multiple hurdles have proven their mettle. It would be fallacious however to conclude that this is due to any divine attribute.
Such invocations would only tend to create myths, even while squarely failing to address the issues that the disabled face.
Dignity, accommodation and recognition of their rights as equal and productive citizens are what persons with disabilities long for and not any change in nomenclature.
What needs to be addressed are stigma, discrimination and marginalisation that persons with disabilities are subjected to on account of the cultural, social, physical and attitudinal barriers that hinder their effective participation in the country’s economic, social and political life.