It’s only a slim rectangular paper, with a black and white picture of me, but on top of the paper is prominently written, ‘Voters Identity’ card and I look at it with pride and joy.
Most young people begin voting at 18, when the country and law recognizes them as ‘major’ in age. At 18, they have a stake in the country’s destiny whether through the click of a button or a stamp on a paper. But as much as I longed for it, I had no such opportunity, so this ‘Voters Identity’ card has a special meaning for me.
It becomes all the more cherishable when one thinks of the numerous attempts made to get the Voters Identity card. Numerous fights with local officials to have my name added to the voters, and the numerous times I traveled, from Bangalore to my home, only to be refused the card.
When I look back, there are some things that able bodied people take for granted, like getting their voters ID cards but for a person with disabilities, the effort is ten times more, and I guess it’s just easier to push people like us around. While able bodied people have a choice, to vote or not to vote, many choose to sit home and let the day pass by. Many young people just can’t image they can shape the destiny of this country. But for us people with disabilities, there are less choice, there are few opportunities. For example I’m not sure how I’m going to be accessing the polling booth, if it does not have a ramp for my wheelchair, I will need to have somebody carry me up to the polling booth! Or I can choose not to vote, but that aren’t an option, not this time, not ever.
While people with disability fight to get their names on voters lists, fight to get their identity cards and fight to have polling booths accessible to them, political parties are yet to recognize them as a cohesive group, well 7-10% of the population is no small number, is it. Yet, there is no mention of us in party manifestos, there wasn’t much of a mention of us the budgets, be they National or State. So we people with disabilities still have a look way to go.
But I have the ‘Voters Identity’ now and I shall vote. this election I shall vote every time henceforth, not just to participate in this democracy and countries destiny but as a symbol that we people with disabilities are a lobby and we are uniting.