“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” – Stephen Hawking.
Around 23 years ago, when Stephen Hawking visited India, he wished to visit Indian historical monuments like the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, Jantar Mantar, Red Fort and Qutub Minar, however, this has led Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.), push for making the iconic structures accessible to the disabled, almost overnight. Although wooden ramps were temporarily installed in some locations, however, few including visiting Taj Mahal remained as the unfulfilled wish of Stephen Hawking.
Even till now not all historical monuments to have full access for the specially abled people.
However, there is a Call for making all the historical monuments disabled-friendly as most museums and monuments in India remain inaccessible. Few have done work on accessibility, but they are also only wheelchair accessible. Interestingly, till date, no measures to make information and communication accessible for the deaf or people with learning or cognitive or sensory disabilities.
Raising his voice over the issue, Ameer Siddiqui, popularly known as Rider Ameer from Delhi, an Orthopaedic specially abled person along with his friend Govinda is demanding Accessible Tourism for the specially abled people. The Two riders are part of the Amazing Namaste Foundation’s pan-North East bike expedition – ‘North East on Wheels.
“We specially abled people want all the historical monuments, tourist places should be made accessible for specially abled people. There should be ramp, everything should be written in tactile, Braille should be used. So that all the specially abled people should also see the world, understand and know,” Siddiqui said.
It may be mentioned that the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment few years back launched Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan- an initiative for enhancing accessibility, creating awareness and sensitization for creating a universal barrier free environment was taken by the Central Government by launching the Accessible India.
Though himself specially abled, but this hasn’t deterred the spirit of Ameer, he remained focused at spreading awareness and promoting Inclusion. He has been working in the Disability segment for several years , and has achieved numerous achievement awards and felicitation certificates.
Though focusing on empowerment, he has been very active in reaching out to PwD for delivering help and assistance. So far they have travelled around 3000 kms.
Siddiqui, whose name is also there in Limca Book of records, asked about it, he said, “In 2019, we have formed a team Eagle Specially Abled Riders where from all over India Specially Abled gather and travel various places. We traveled Delhi-Mumbai- Delhi and covered 3500 km by Retrofitted Scooty between 1st October to 15th October, 2019. For which our names were included in the Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records and we have received several awards for various records. The World’s Longest Accessible Awareness Ride is on the Importance of Education for the Differently Abled to enhance and empower their personality and confidence.”
“In 2021, we went to the rural areas of Chhattisgarh, there we ran a campaign on various schemes provided by the Government for the Disabled people which many are not aware of and we took the initiative to let people know about the schemes,” Ameer added.
Short in height but morale is high. Meet Govinda, the shortest biker in the country. He is not even 3 feet in height but believes people are not Disabled physically but a matter of perception.
Govinda said it is not physical disability but mental disability which is a major stumbling block which prevents people from doing impossible things despite their limitations.
A group of the ten bikers are visiting various parts of Meghalaya as part of the North East on Wheels (NEW) Bike Expedition Season 2. Road safety is the key message of this expedition.
This expedition is an effort to provide life time experience to the riders from all over India in the picturesque and the culturally rich tribal life of Northeast region.
The Expedition is based on One Nation, One people, One culture. It has three themes- Dekho Apna Desh to promote Domestic Tourism which could be the single largest employer in the NorthEast Region, Amrit Kaal celebrating the 75th year of our Independence and marching towards Amrit Kaal and Road Safety to create awareness amongst the people about the need to follow protocols necessary to take maximum advantage of the improving road infrastructure.
Prasad Jog who hails from Pune said, “We are conducting motorcycle rally which is passing through Assam and Meghalaya, this is the second season of this rally. This year we are covering three states with a group of 30 people. I have 10 bikers with me.”
“The Northeast on Wheel started to introduce Northeast to other parts of the country as well as love for riding and make people aware of the nature of this beautiful part of the country and ofcourse to promote road safety,” he added.