We Need A Sense Of Positivity: Dr. Bhushan Punani

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Interview, The NamoLeague Times
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When did The Blind People’s Association start?
The organization started in 1950 at Kameshwar Ni Pol in Ahmedabad. It shifted to this campus near IIM Ahmedabad in 1964.

Who was the mind behind this idea?
Shri Jagdish Patel was the main source of inspiration. He, along with his 4 friends started a recreation club in Kameshwar Ni Pol. The club mainly worked on the Braille language for the Blind. Then the group managed to get a place in this current campus and they started a school in 1964. Jagdishbhai was supported by his wife Bhadraben and two friends Kanubhai Thakker and Arvindlal.

How did you happen to be a part of BPA?
I joined the organization in 1979, after I completed my MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. I joined as a Project Manager with BPA as I was inclined to do something related to development. 

Whom does BPA work for?
Though the name states ‘Blind People’s Association’, it works for all types of disabled people since 1974. The focus, though, is the blind. BPA works for the speech impaired, the hearing impaired, people with mental disability, and other physical disabilities as well as in all the fields related to them. These fields are education, training, rehabilitation, rural programs, hospitals, prevention programs etc. 

What are myths among the common people regarding the disabled people?
The very first myth being that the disabled cannot grow and develop like a normal human being. There was a serial with the wordings ‘Aankho Wala Rukta Nahi, Andha Aage Badhta Nahi’. Secondly, people see the disabled as an object of charity and pity. They feel that if we donate money for them, it will bring peace and sanctity to the souls of their dead relatives. And the third perception is that the disabled are a commodity wherein there is no need to invest money as one never gets the returns. But I am happy that over the years these perceptions are changing.

How can these myths be changed?
See, if I’ll go on the terrace and shout for change, no one will pay any heed to me. For change to come, one has to have a very positive attitude. The media and other mediums can be used to spread the human interest and project success stories. Secondly, field work is necessary to change the mind sets of the people. If I cite an example, an eye hospital within the campus will be beneficial to any of the patients who visit that hospital. But if we go to the field, spread awareness regarding regular eye checkups, counsel the people, educate them about various eye problems etc.; it would bring about a change in their thought processes.

How is the support of the media and the Government?
I am really proud to say that the media as well as the Government has been very positive. Atleast when it comes to the field of disability, there are no negative news. Also, the media not only has a sense of positivity, but also are very creative. Gujarat as a State is considered as a role model when it comes to disability. It is an instruction of the Chief Minister to give visibility to the disabled in all the Garib Kalyan Melas. Also the organizations working for such causes are given enough grants. All the schemes introduced by the Central and the State Governments are well implemented in Gujarat.

How can a common man be helpful to BPA?
A common man, according to me, should simply come, see and admire the organization. Then he will realize that a disabled is a physiotherapist, he works on a computer, does paintings, clicks photographs and does everything that a normal person does. This will change a common man’s thought process. Also, BPA needs volunteers who simply act as chain and spread the message of positivity. The common man needs to be a visionary who understands that there is no need to keep a disabled person within the four walls of any house. The common man just has to talk and be aware, for which no money is needed. But this can surely light up the lives of the disabled and bring in a new ray of hope.

What are the future plans of BPA?
BPA is India’s biggest such organization. We wish to reach at the Asia level. Not only this, but we wish to cater to each and every disabled of Gujarat. It is said if everyone cannot make it to the Holy Ganga, the Ganga goes to them. We wish to go on the same line.

Your appeal to the people
Any development is incomplete if all the types of people do not get equal opportunities for growth. It is our moral responsibility to see that the disabled are not left out of this journey of development. We should remember them at every milestone and spread this awareness.

(Dr. Bhushan Punani – Executive Director, Blind People’s Association, Ahmedabad)

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=We%20Need%20A%20Sense%20Of%20Positivity:%20Dr.%20Bhushan%20Punani_87

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