Born without arms Madanlal lives and dreams like any other.
It’s 7 AM on a warm summer morning in the village of Bangaon in northwest Haryana. Outside his thatched hut, 32 year old Madanlal sits on a charpoy. With a shaving brush held tightly between his toes, he works up a rich lather on his scraggly grey beard. Once done, he carefully places the shaving brush down on the charpoy and picks up a fluorescent green plastic razor. Dexterously, one stroke at a time, he begins to shave away his thick mass of facial hair.
Born without hands, Madanlal is amongst India’s some 40 million people with physical disability. Often shunned by society, the physically disabled in India are among the most excluded of groups. Schools reject physically challenged children, employers discriminate against physically impaired adults, and more often than not, families reject their physically challenged relatives leaving them to live out their lives in loneliness and even squalor.
Even though India has a strong and progressive framework for disabled persons, implementation is weak. The Persons With Disabilities Act of 1995 takes into account not only the medical needs of people with disabilities but also the societal attitudes towards such people, taking into account equal opportunities, right protection and rehabilitation.
However, there are hundreds and thousands of people like Madanlal who do not receive any help from the government. Madanlal expresses disappointed with the government’s lack of assistance towards him, but his spirit remains unbroken. He takes pride in the fact that he can shower, shave, cook and even sew with his two feet. When asked about the future, he says he only has two wishes – the first is to learn to drive a car and the second, to find a partner who will help him live a better life. His parents have been good to him, and are appreciative of his self-sufficiency but he cannot expect their assistance into his old age. A wife, he knows, could
fill that gap.
To help Madanlal please contact our Community Correspondent Satyawan Verma