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Sudha Chandran Instagram Video Points at The Larger Picture of Disability In India

Sudha Chandran

Who hasn’t been awestruck by Sudhaa Chandran graceful Bharatanatyam moves? Sudha Chandran’s life is an inspiring journey. It offers you hope, asks you to bestow confidence in yourself and urges you to stand up and fight all odds.

Honestly speaking, even before discovering that she is such a renowned dancer, I knew her as an actor only. She was so good in her portrayal of negative roles that I disliked her character at one time.  As I grew up, I read more about her life and journey. To those of you who don’t know Sudha Chandran, she is a dancer and actor by profession. She is a dancer with an amputated leg who has represented India nationally and internationally.

 Undoubtedly, she is also India’s one of the many disability icons. In a country that sees people with disabilities with prejudice, she stands tall and untouched with such a notion. She didn’t let anyone dictate her journey. She, fighting all odds and preconceived notions, made a name for herself.

Why in the news?

In the recent video on her Instagram, Sudha Chandran points out that she is upset by the airport authorities for always asking her to remove her artificial limb for security checks. In the video posted, she is requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue a specific card for specially challenged senior citizens like her so that they can avoid being humiliated by the airport authorities.

The dancer said she is asked to remove her amputated leg every time and stated that it ‘hurts’.

Sudha Chandran hurt her leg in a road accident near Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu in 1981 while coming back from Madras with her parents. Despite losing a leg early on in life, she didn’t give up on pursuing her passion.

Chandran’s Appeal for help-

“This is a very personal note that I want to tell our dear Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. This is an appeal to the central government and the state government. I am Sudha Chandran, an actress and dancer by profession. I have danced with an artificial limb and created history, making my country proud. But every time I go on my professional visits, each time, I am stopped at the airport, and when I request them at the security, to the CISF officials, that please do an ETD (Explosive Trace Detector) test for my artificial limb, they still want me to remove my artificial limb and show it to them. Is it humanly possible, Modi ji?”

Sudha Chandran said in her instagram video

She further continues, “Is this what our country is talking about? Is this the respect that a woman gives another woman in our society? It is my humble request to you Modi Ji that please give us a card just like senior citizens have.” Sudha seems to have shot the video outside an airport after undergoing the process of removing her limb for security clearance.

Sudhaa Chandran captioned the video writing, “Totally hurt… each time going through this grill is very very hurting….hope my message reaches the state and central government authorities….and expecting a prompt action.”

The video, so far, has 59,981 views and over 431 comments. In the video one top comment attracted my attention and evoked thoughts and many questions in my mind. The comment read, “Now just imagine if a very recognised person faces such troubles then what about any ordinary differently abled person would have to go through at airports or rather any other public place..Glad someone chose to speak about it..”

Starting off Young

Sudha Chandran started when she was three-and-a-half years old. She studied arts in her high school years. For a young enthusiastic dancer, the unfortunate turn of events, when she met with an accident that led to the amputation of her right foot could be the worst nightmare imaginable. It took Sudha three years to recover and come to terms with the new life.

As prejudice around disability, people around her with unsolicited sympathy conveyed her inability to dance again. However, pursuing her passion and fighting the prejudice she went through a tiresome, yet empowering process of learning to dance all over again. In an interview with Humans of Bombay, she said she went to her father and told him she was ready to perform again. “I began to get nervous before going up on stage when my Grandmother told me, ‘Don’t worry, God is with you…let the miracle happen.’ but I was so angry that I said, ‘If God was with me he wouldn’t ever do this to me!” she said.

Disability and the Insensitivity: The Larger picture

Chandran’s video points at the larger picture of disability in India. It points at the lackadaisical attitude of people, companies as well as organisations in discovering hassle-free travel and mobility. With the deployment of technology for a user-friendly experience, it seems people of the disabled communities are either cornered or not considered as stakeholders.

When will organisations and governments accommodate people from disabled communities in making schemes and deploying technology?

Fighting Disability: In Pursuit of Happiness

Sudhaa Chandran has worked in TV, Bollywood, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Telugu and Bengali films. She is popular for her roles of Ramola Sikand in Kaahin Kissii Roz, Yamini in Naagin 1, 2 & 3, Chitradevi in Deivam Thandha Veedu, the Tamil remake of Saath Nibhana Saathiya. She was awarded the National Film Award Special Jury Award and Mayuri 33rd National Film Awards in 1985. Sudhaa Chandran has also won a National Award for her role in the Telugu film Mayuri, which was based on her life. She is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer.

Way Forward

The government, organisations and masses need to understand that a renowned face is grilled because of the lack of disabled-friendly facilities or proper schemes, we can not even imagine the status of a common disabled person. Amidst the already existing prejudices, stereotypes, insensitivity and ignorance, lack of facilities can lead to hammering the self esteem of a common disabled person. The government and organisation should create policies and infrastructure keeping in the needs and requirements of accessibility. Making policies is not enough, keeping a check and balance system is important. The community with such hefty prejudices need to be prioritised.

We, as a citizen, also need to understand our responsibility to create an accessible and inclusive environment.

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