Saturday, 19 August 2017


15th August 1947 - for the 360 million newly free Indians, the word 'independence' meant more than merely a state of autonomy. It meant, for the community at large, the freedom to pursue your interests, hone your skills and build a life around it.

One such community is that of the Intellectually Disabled people of India. In ancient times, any kind of significant impairment in cognitive and adaptive abilities in a person was regarded as a result of sinful past lives and therefore, an object of ridicule and something to be ashamed of. Traces of such thinking, although to a significantly lesser degree, still exist in many rural areas of the country.

In metropolitan areas, the situation for Intellectually Disabled is better but not satisfactory. The onset of the Industrial Revolution brought in a great deal of wealth and productivity to the civilization but at a great cost. Concentration of wealth and resources in cities forced huge populations of villages to migrate in search of labor. Those with vocational ability were considered to be an asset to the family while those with disabilities of any kind were marginalized.

In the years after independence, many positive strides were taken by the government as well as many newly formed NGOs across the country. Special schools for the Intellectually Disabled were established in the 1950s, which was the first time an organized effort was made towards the cause. Since then, hard-fought legislation like the 'Persons with Disabilities Act 1995'  (for Equal opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation)National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999 and the most recent  Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. (Amendment to the bill passed in 2014) have paved a way for a better future.

On a social level, we have made some meaningful progress even though there is still a long way to go. It has been our experience after 17 successful years of Advitya that once you create a public platform to campaign the cause of the Intellectually Disabled, people take active interest in knowing more about the issue and often goes great lengths to be of some help.

It is also imperative to understand the struggles of the people most directly affected by the plight of the Intellectually Disabled - the parents of the Intellectually Disabled. An open dialogue in the media other public platforms will be of tremendous help to these parents. Once they know that there are other parents coping with similar issues, a lot of ignorance and hush hush surrounding the issue will fade away. Also, the depiction of People with Intellectual Disabilities in movies, TV and other art forms is rarely multi-dimensional. And because art reflects life, this kind of simple-minded depiction points towards the greater reality of the society: we simply do not know enough about the life and problems of a person with such disabilities. We can't keep shrugging the responsibility to educate the masses on someone else. 

Change begins from within.

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

The cards have been dealt

Burdened with the task, to ask
my slender intellect:
Whether to roam free or to hide behind a mask,
to resist or to follow the vile pursuit of perfect?

Eyes wide open on a chilly drizzling night,
I thought of everything that could be different
on the fading brim of the shallow, yellow light
of the grim life that I've been a resident.

O you, the lucid and the understood,
given as much a say (as me) in this giant roll:
Tell me to what avail; to what good
brings you the ostracization of a soul?

Be what it may, the cards have been dealt
of what exists, oh they are, but not what could be felt.

Photo courtesy :

Saturday, 5 August 2017


It has been our experience at Advitya, that whenever we are graced with a gratuitous visit from some curious souls, they never leave without a hopeful smile and an overwhelming urgency to feel grateful for the wonderful gift of life. That, without a doubt, has to be the answer to the well-intended question we get asked frequently: What motivates you to keep doing a thankless job, often riddled with severe hurdles?

Therefore, naturally, whenever we receive letters from our visitors recounting their experience with us and how it was almost transcendental to see the world through the lens of a special person, we feel as though every hurdle on the way was worth it. We can't thank those enough who keep rejuvenating our love for what we do and express solidarity with our cause. Words truly do possess the power to change the life of people, if not the world itself.

Recently, we received a heartfelt letter written by Anita Mascarenhas in which she wrote meticulously about her day with the students of Advitya. She came here along with a group of well-wishers from Johnson & Johnson as a part of a CSR program. In the letter we received via email, she writes, "We all had a very humbling and an amazing experience which has filled our hearts with gratitude for the simple things in life that we usually overlook."  

We sincerely thank Anita and her team for choosing to spend their precious time with our students. Nobody can know how far reaching are the ripples of love and friendship in our lives. All we can do is keep initiating them.

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