Sunday, February 13, 2011

All Present and Accounted For

Like everyone else in the field of disability in India, I've been waiting eagerly yet with trepidation for the Census takers to come to my house. Getting the number of people with disability right is so vital for so many reasons. I wanted to be here when they arrived and I was worried I would miss them. I was anxious to see how they would handle Question # 9, yet afraid they would flub it.

I had so many possible scenarios going in my head, the last thing I was prepared for was what actually happened.

What happened was that two very fine gentlemen - Mr Jagdish Prasad and Mr K N Singh - presented themselves at our gate, forms in hand and our names on their list, and announced proudly that they were here for the Census.

It was the pride that struck me. 

They worked in the Water Department, they informed me, but for the moment, they were taking the Census.  For a temporary assignment, their conviction and investment was remarkable. They sat down in our garden (our living room was full of the guests we had invited for lunch) and, after refusing my offer of tea, they got down to business.

One by one, they slowly and painstakingly took me through the process - asking each and every question on the list carefully and diligently, making sure I understood not only the questions but the logic behind each one.

When we came to Question #9 (the only one I really cared about - sorry, but it's true), they asked it first in its bald form: "Does anyone in your family have a disability?" and then immediately paraphrased by saying: "Does anyone have any difficulty seeing? Or hearing? Or moving? Or understanding? Or any combination of these? Or in any way at all?"

They asked without judgment. They wanted to know.

I answered matter-of-factly. They wrote it down just as calmly. 

Moy Moy was counted as a person with multiple disabilities. So was Mummy (hearing and movement). So was Masiji (movement). 

Jagdish Prasad and K N Singh did their work well today. I was proud to be counted, along with my family. But more important, they were proud to make certain we were counted accurately. What more can we ask?


Hello, I'm Paul. said...

I liked this. P

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, Paul. Glad to see you here again! Jo

Sawan Dutta said...

Fantastic, Jo.
Am passing this link on to my friend, director of census operations in delhi - she'll be thrilled to read it, she and her team have been putting in huge amounts of thought and effort into this, and its so wonderful when people at the receiving end express their appreciation!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Hi Sawan,

Oh, how cool! Thanks so much.

I've gotten a wonderful response to my note on facebook with people all so thrilled at the dedication of these public servants. I think, given the scale of corruption in the country, it's easy to forget how many wonderful people actually do exist and how sincere they are about doing their jobs well.

Thanks for passing it on!

Cris McGowan said...

Mahalo nui loa, Sawan Dutta!
And doesn't my little sister write so well?
My very first comment was going to be: Please tell me you sent a copy of this to the director of census operations in Delhi!!!!
Love you, Jo. That was a fabulous piece.