The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), while celebrating its annual vigilance week recently, planned to do something different and put up several colourful posters across its offices in the Capital. Made to create awareness, the posters have instead ended up offending many.
The brightly coloured posters with some shocking visuals, which dot every corner of the DDA’s several offices, say that wealth amassed by taking bribes is spent on diseases. To put the point across, the posters show pictures of people afflicted with leprosy, skin diseases and deformities.
Though the idea behind the posters was to create awareness, the visuals have not gone down well with many DDA employees.
“The posters are highly objectionable as these are discriminatory and portray people with disabilities in a bad light. There are many of our colleagues who are visually or physically disabled and they are hurt by this gesture of our vigilance department, which has prepared the posters,” said Sukhbir Sharma, president, joint action committee, DDA trade unions and engineers, which is an umbrella body of all employees’ unions of the DDA.
The committee has written to the Delhi lieutenant governor Tejendra Khanna, who is also the DDA chairman, to order the immediate removal of the posters.
“To create awareness about corruption, the posters could have just given numbers of nodal officers to be contacted if asked for a bribe,” he said. “The DDA has been trying to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream, but on the other hand it is discriminating against them in such way.”
“People putting up such posters need to be sensitised first before those taking bribes. It is highly discriminatory and spread such wrong notions about people with disabilities,” said Anjalee Agarwal, director, Samarthyam.
“Such posters reinforce the stereotype that disability is a result of your past mistakes or karma. We condemn any such move and the posters should be removed immediately,” said disability rights activist Javed Abidi. “By trying to remove one evil, the DDA is promoting another,” he said.
Abidi said that such an insensitive act by the DDA washes away the fight against such strongly ingrained stereotypes. Senior DDA officials couldn’t be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.