New Delhi [India], Sept.7 : As the world gears up for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in which 19 Indians will be competing, not a single Indian network including Doordarshan has picked up the broadcast rights for this global event.
And this has elicited fervent calls from Civilian Welfare Foundation, a city-based NGO, to give a proper media coverage in order to give them their credit.
CWF is the first NGO in India focusing fully on the cause of Indian Paralympians. It has also organised the first Walk for Paralympics and has been at the forefront of the Paralympic Movement in India since its inception.
"India is home to the largest demographic of people with disabilities in the world. It is great that Prime Minister Modi wished the Para-athletes well but the lack of coverage in India needs to be discussed at a time when the Paras are the biggest news story worldwide.
Strategically this year is a critical year in the history of paralympic sports where 19 athletes are participating in 9 events the key important points being the highest amount of women participation (3) and a bunch of budding talent along with the stalwarts," said Suchandra Ganguly, paralympic rights activist and founding member of CWF.
"To discuss this injustice and discrimination against Indian athletes with disabilities, the first Indian-origin person selected to serve as Chaplain for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Rev.
Zenji Nio has skipped the opening ceremonies in Rio and flew in from the Olympic Village to discuss this issue in landmark press conferences being organized in both Kolkata and New Delhi by the Civilian Welfare Foundation," stated Pradeep Raj, an International Para athlete and founder of Para Sports Foundation.
"The state of Paralympics sports in respect to promotion and broadcast is sincerely poor in India. Most of the athletes who have gone there in Paralympics most of the Indians are unaware of them. Besides, the entire issue of the Indian flag being absent during the Indian Paralympics address at Rio, adds up to the plight of Paralympic sports sector as a whole.
Where on one side, PM Modi is giving us name of Divyang, on the other side Divyangs are crying for their rights to be implemented," he said, adding that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports was ignoring the rights of Para athletes.
According to Pradeep, the Ministry of Information (and) Broadcasting should take effective steps to telecast Rio Paralympics 2016 in accessible format on Doordarshan.
Elaborating further, Rev Nio, who was recently lauded by the Olympic media for coaching 50 medalists as well as conducting the first marriage ceremony in an Olympic Village, said: "the theme for Rio 2016 is diversity and enabling the Indian public to view the heroic efforts of the Paralympians can be inspirational and empowering to all viewers.
Furthermore, the Paralympics can serve to change attitudes and perceptions towards people with disabilities and open vistas of visibility, opportunity and exposure for them.
The games village after the Olympics has been completely revamped in terms of signage and disability accessibility and a makeover look has been provided.
The undercurrent thought is that Paralympics no longer needs to be under the shadow of Olympics - an attitude India needs to reflect upon." The press conferences not only focused on the problems facing Indian athletes with disabilities but also explore potential solutions.
The speakers stressed on working along with mainstream media regarding how the more coverage on the athletes could be fetched.
The event, starting from September 7, will see Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, the country's first Paralympic gold medallist (Athens 2004), competing for his second medal.