Mumbai Girl and Miss wheelchair India 2014 Virali Modi, whose online petition on Change.org went viral which highlighted the need for disabled-friendly travel in Indian Railways. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu also tweeted about the petition after it got a huge response from people in the nation. Around 93,000 people supported her cause and Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi also requested Suresh Prabhu to look into the matter. InUth spoke to Virali, who is currently in the United States, about the petition.
Q. Your petition which went viral was taken into consideration by central government and now they are acting on it. Are you satisfied with it?
A. Is the government considering my petition? That’s news to me! Ms. Maneka Gandhi acknowledged it and said that she’ll write to Mr. Suresh Prabhu about it which is amazing but it isn’t enough. Mr. Suresh Prabhu tweeted saying that he’s trying to make the railways Divyang friendly. Has he implemented the plan yet? According to me, the government isn’t acting on it. Yes, after seeing my petition, railway officials in Chennai Central introduced two foldable wheelchairs that could be taken into the coach. They’ve ordered twenty more of the same so that those with disabilities do not have to face the humiliation that I faced. That’s commendable.
Q. You are raising voice for disables in India. How are people supporting you in India as well as abroad in your campaign?
A. My campaign is being shared in and out of India. This cause is getting media exposure, and I’m getting messages from people in and out of India and they are sharing their personal stories of how they were humiliated while traveling in trains. It’s sad, but powerful at the same time.
Q. Tell us about your online petition which got viral.
A. I started this petition during the first week of February and it got so much traction that it’s incredible. I wanted to make sure that no other human would lose their dignity because the government cannot take care of their citizens.
Q. Please tell us about your personal experience in your life in the city or any other part of the country which stunned you.
A. I think my experience that’s noted in my petition is barbaric and horrific enough.
Q. Recently Indian government has come up with the decision to train disabled people to stand for the national anthem. Do you know about this and what is your reaction?
A. Yes, I know about this. I think it’s horrendous. Why are they forcing patriotism on their citizens? It’s as simple as that.
Q. You are currently in the US. How is it different from India or Mumbai?
A. It’s totally different. The culture, the accessibility, and the sensitivity towards the disabled people. In the US, people will help you as much as possible, without feeling sympathetic. In India, people won’t help you and they’ll pity you.
Q. What are your other demands from the government?
A. I’ve already demanded the simplest thing. The rest I wish to discuss with The PM and Mr. Prabhu.
Q. There is a lot of improvement with infrastructure for disabled people. Do you think India will change with time? What measures can be taken to improve it?
A. It will change, only when the right person steps up and demands it to be changed and implemented. Everyone already knows what needs to be done, they are lacking in implementation.
Q. Thank you so much for your time, please send one message to people who supported you for your campaign too. Keep fighting for what you believe is right, dream big, and be optimistic.
A. Thank you for contributing for my campaign.