Bringing conversations of inclusion to the mainstream 

His personal journey of raising a child with cerebral palsy gave him deep insights about the unequal world we were living in.

BENGALURU : Hosting India Inclusion Summit for the seventh year in the city, India Inclusion Foundation will bring together thought leaders from various fields to provide insights on inclusion. The aim is to inspire at least 10 million people by 2020 and make India inclusive by 2030. 

In a conversation with City Express, V R Ferose, the founder and managing trustee of Indian Inclusion Foundation, talks about the inspiration behind India Inclusion Summit (IIS). He says, “It started in January 2012 over an informal lunch conversation with Dr Arun Shourie (former cabinet minister, Journalist and Magsaysay Awardee), who sore the seeds of the idea to get like-minded people to come together and drive awareness about people with disabilities.

His personal journey of raising a child with cerebral palsy gave him deep insights about the unequal world we were living in. While the initial idea was to get together a few senior executives to brainstorm about how to rally support amongst corporates, it took a much larger shape when we hosted the first India Inclusion Summit on December 3, 2012 (World Disability Day). Since then, IIS has been hosting the event every year.” 

Priyanka Agarwal, a visually-challenged employee of a multinational IT company, is one of the lead volunteers of India Inclusion Summit. She says the summit brings speakers from all over the world who have done something with their own capabilities. “It brings together unsung heroes who have brought about a change. The event is open to all and aims to inspire and motivate.” 

Talking about her journey with IIS, she says, “When I first attended IIS as an audience and saw people sharing their stories, I got a better perspective on how I looked at what we consider to be limitations... I started volunteering, became compassionate, and went on to transform myself.” 

Inclusive Walkathon

As part of the Indian Inclusion Summit this year, an inclusive walkathon was organised for the first time in the city on October 14. Over 2,000 people registered for the event. It saw the participation of all age groups and people with disability. The aim of the walkathon was to create awareness and spread the idea of inclusion across India and the world.

It was the brainchild of Pavithra YS, MD of Vindhay Infomedia and a trustee at the India Inclusion Foundation. She says, “Awareness is created when common people join in. The walkathon is not about walking together but it’s about people interacting and becoming friends with those who are so-called able. When you walk together, you realise there are so many things that you have in common with them. Just a change in the mindset of people is required.”

VR Ferose adds, “The walkathon is just one step in a series of activities that we do throughout the year, the ripple effect can only be measured over a period of time. Eventually, we are building a movement, and not a campaign.”

Caroline Casey, Irish 
activist and founder of Valuable; 
Jerry White, co-lead of the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines 
Nandita Das, actor and director 
Rajni Bakshi, journalist and author 
K S Chitra, playback singer
The India Inclusion Summit will be held at Raddison Blu, Marathahalli on November 18. You can register the event for free on their website

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The New Indian Express