Para-athlete Suvarna Raj has been selected for the prestigious National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)-Mphasis Universal Design Award (MUDA) for 2017. The award comes close on the heels of a headlines-hogging incident in June in which she was forced to sleep on the floor of a long-distance train.
Suvarna (34) hails from Nagpur and settled in New Delhi after marriage. Though afflicted by polio at the age of two, she earned international acclaim as a table tennis player. In June 2017, while travelling on the Nagpur-Nizamuddin Garib Rath, she was compelled to sleep on the floor after the railway officials and co-passengers refused to give her a lower berth in exchange for the upper berth allotted to her.
Shortly after the incident, which created much embarrassment for the railways, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on June 11 ordered an inquiry into the episode. Ironically, Prabhu will hand over the NCPEDP-MUDA honours to Suvarna and other winners from all over the country at a function in New Delhi on August 14.
Globally known disabled rights activist Javed Abidi, who is the head of NCPEDP, commented,
Suvarna is a passionate supporter of improved accessibility for disabled persons and has done a lot of advocacy to make public places and buildings accessible for all.
Besides filing RTIs and cases against central and state disability commissioners, Suvarna, who is an access auditor for Accessible India Campaign, has audited 139 buildings around the country for their accessibility and her report is pending implementation, said Abidi.
Besides Suvarna, the other recipients of the eighth NCPEDP-MUDA awards 2017 in the category of individuals are Aqil Chinoy of Mumbai (Maharashtra); Dr Homiyar Mobedji of Ahmedabad (Gujarat); Vivek Mehta of Panchkula (Haryana); Hemang Mistry of Valsad (Gujarat); Parikipandla Narahari, an IAS officer and Collector of Indore (Madhya Pradesh); Dr Ramesh C. Gaur, university librarian of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and Siddhant C. Shah of Mumbai.
In the category of corporates, organisations and government, the awardees are GingerMind Technologies, Bengaluru; Hear2Read, a text to speech multi-lingual software; Intuit India of Bengaluru; UMOJA, Mumbai, which is India's first travel portal specifically for disabled persons, enabling them to travel anywhere with ease and confidence in India and other parts of the world.
With inputs from IANS
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- Javed Abidi
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- Disabled Peoples' International