Brazilian professor João Vicente Ganzarolli de Oliveira talks about the problems faced by the disabled all over the world
Photos: João Vicente Ganzarolli de Oliveira by Ratheesh Sundaram; Emperpr Asoka
On his second day in Kochi, João Vicente Ganzarolli de Oliveira encountered a hartal. But he was not surprised. “Strikes happen all over the world,” says Ganzarolli, who has travelled to numerous countries. “I remember once I was stuck during a strike in Spain. It is a non-violent way to lodge a protest. Hence, it is popular.”
Ganzarolli, a professor and researcher of disability studies, at the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, had come to Kochi to give talks on this subject to college students as well as health-care professionals. “My subject is the social integration of disabled people and how they can take the help of technology to function in a better manner,” he says.
And he is especially disappointed with the young generation. “Too many of them have become slaves to technological devices like the mobile phone and the tablet,” says Ganzarolli. “The more they use it, the more self-absorbed they become. They feel as though they don't need anybody. When they see a disabled person, they just ignore him. Their attitude is, 'Why should I help? He has nothing to give me in return'. On the other hand, they will behave well with people from whom they can gain something.”
It is not surprising that India, with its huge population, has 26 million disabled people (2011 figures). “But this may not be the actual figure,” says Ganzarolli. “The majority of the disabled remain hidden inside their homes, because of a lack of support, as well as self-belief and confidence. When you see a man on a wheelchair, he is already a winner in life.”