VAANI at the “never-the-less” Conference

Panellist Ms. Shanti Raghavan speaking about the role of workplace solutions in building an enabling environment

The “never-the-less” campaign was a month long campaign reaching out to 6000 schools, 200 colleges, 300 corporates and 50 NGOs, with the help of 1500 volunteers, for the cause of ‘unifying efforts, investments and innovation for addressing inclusion of persons with disabilities’. The efforts were extended to the fields of education, work places, transport and public places. The conference was attended by multiple stakeholders like, Ms. M V Savitri : Director, State Dept for the Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizens, Mr. Ashwin Mahesh : Adviser to the Office of the Chief Minister, Mr. Raja Shanmugham : President & Chief People Officer – Happiest Minds Technologies Pvt Ltd, Ms. Meenu Bhambhani: Global Head CSR, Mphasis, Mr. Subramani L : Retina India, Ms. Shanti Raghavan : Founder Enable India,Ms. Malathi Holla: Senior Manager at Syndicate Bank – Paralympian, Asian Games Silver medallist, Mr. George Abraham : CEO, SCORE Foundation New Delhi, Mr. G.G.Hegde: HRD manager, BMTC and Ms. Vasanthi Srinivasan: Chairperson, Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship, IIMB.

The panellists spoke about the various issues plaguing the inclusion of persons with disability, and how the movement created by the never-the-less campaign could bring together people from various fields to join in and contribute to the cause, in making the process of inclusion smoother. The coordinator of the event, Mr. CC Joseph rightly remarked that in a country that boasts of its unity in diversity, it is strange that one experiences exclusion. After all, the entire concept of diversity is based on acceptance.

As was pointed out by one of the panellists, one of the biggest challenges that India faces today is that the society is a salad bowl and not a melting pot. So we don’t really have an inclusive society. The main aim of the movement is to direct the journey from being a salad bowl to a melting pot. The various stakeholders spoke about the policies they have undertaken to make inclusion a reality in their respective fields and also, the challenges they are facing while undertaking these measures.

The main aim of the conference was to initiate dialogue across a section of people coming from various backgrounds to align personal purpose to collective purpose. It is not disability which is the problem, it is the way people think and react to it – it is the attitudes that need to change.

The conference marked the beginning of a journey to take this movement from Bangalore and Karnataka to the rest of the country in the next five years.


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