Author: Gunjan Kumari
Author Affiliation: Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Shivaji College, University of Delhi and a Research Scholar, Centre for English Studies, SLL/CS, JNU
Abstract: A culture is the construct of a number of components commencing from a society’s people, beliefs, ideologies and principles to the conduct of the values emerging out of them. Tersely speaking, a culture is the composite whole of the socially transmitted beliefs, behavioural patterns, institutions, arts and all possible products of human thought. If we go by this definition of a culture, can we create a ‘composite culture’ if we relegate a particular section of a society to its periphery? Climate, in this research paper, is referred to as the surroundings, the ambience for a particular culture to flourish. Now, the question arises, have we created the climate or the ambience for every section of our society to grow, especially in a South Asian country like India? Are we ready to sacrifice the concept of unjustified ‘norms’ defined by our culture on the altar of plurality? The marginalized section this research focuses on is disabled people, medically termed as ‘impaired’, socially labelled as ‘divyang’, and truly made ‘disabled’ due to social and cultural constraints of Indian culture. The conflation of quoted literary instances and social and cultural labels assigned to people with disabilities, both in the West and East in this paper speak volume about the similar treatment towards them across the world. However, there are myriads of differences in the socio-politico-economico-cultural status of people with disabilities of North and Western countries and that of the South Asian countries owing to their ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ status respectively. Advertently or inadvertently, disabled people have been viewed as a homogenous group; they are expected to fit in the ‘norms’ defined by a ‘culture’, and they have always been treated as ‘second class citizens’, the issue being more grave in South Asian countries. There is an urgent need to retrospect and introspect about the treatment of the theme of disability to create a much needed heterogeneous, diverse but inclusive culture. This paper will try to critique the aforementioned aspects and their nuances through analysing Malini Chib’s autobiography, One Little Finger.
Keywords: Disability, Normalcy, Culture, Representation, Inclusion.