Javed Abidi

Ashoka Fellow
Delhi, India
Fellow Since 1998


This profile was prepared when Javed Abidi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Javed Abidi, affected at birth with a spinal malady and confined to the wheelchair by medical negligence, is working to provide political visibility and economic opportunities for disabled persons. In 1994 he founded the Disability Rights Group (later renamed the National Advocacy Network) to work specifically on cross-disability issues, particularly the drafting and passage of the Disability Act of 1995. He rejuvenated the Indian chapter of Disabled People's International, a worldwide organization of people with disabilities, and mobilized the emergence of several grassroots groups across the country.

In the process, Javed has introduced cross-disability culture to the movement. This has been vital for getting groups dealing with physical and mental disabilities to learn of, and listen to, each other. He sees the lack of information-sharing and communication between disability groups as having kept them apart and virtually disinterested in larger issues of the field. Thus he is spearheading nationwide surveys and researches – the first in the history of the movement – to assess the roles, potential, strengths, and weaknesses of the citizen, business, and government sectors vis-á-vis the disabled. The results have exposed grave areas of weaknesses and spurred the movement to address them.

Javed has been systematically training these various disability groups in campaigning and negotiating skills, and helping them to campaign in the political arena for disabled rights. Through lobbying and recourse to litigation (in an historic public interest case that will affect considerations of the disabled in Indian airports), Javed is now concentrating on the successful implementation of the recently passed Disability Act. Simultaneously, as head of the National Council for the Promotion of Employment of People with Disability (NCPEDP), he is working with the corporate sector to define clear employment policies for the disabled within their agenda.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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