After our Dharna on Friday (17th January 2013), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has come under a lot of pressure. Secretary, MI&B has asked Secretary, MSJE to convene a meeting on Monday 20th January, 2013. Hundreds of people with disabilities gathered at Shastri Bhawan to demand Sign Language interpretation of Republic Day telecast on DD National at Shastri Bhawan , Delhi. Ministry of Defence, Prasar Bharati, and Doordarshan are present. That's when it would be decided if sign language interpretation would be available on only 3 DD Channels or on all the 6 DD Channels, especially DD National. To be honest, just the idea of an inset box with a sign language interpreter on an Indian television screen is in itself a huge, historic breakthrough. First time ever since independence; 6 years after India ratified UNCRPD. To have this on not just DD News but 3 channels of Doordarshan is not too bad a deal but we are out here to make an example.
A meeting was held at 3 pm in the Ministry of Social Justice. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Defence, Doordarshan, etc were all present. It was an unsuccessful meeting, clearly visible that the bureaucrats from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting come with a closed mind. They were finding ways to kill time, with only five days away from Republic Day. We weren’t impressed as the same information was repeatedly being passed to us i.e., 3 channels with the support of sign language interpretation, which was unacceptable. We came out and had shared the bad news with the crowd. Before we even knew, they all got very angry and marched inside Shastri Bhawan pushing aside the guards and the security personnel. For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. We went in, pacified the people, and they all sat on a Dharna right there, at the entry gate of MI&B. This went on till about 8 pm. Finally, the Secretary MI&B called us again and we went in for a 2nd round of talks. This time, he was a bit more open. He asked us to wait till the next day. They have got the file from Doordarshan/Prasar Bharati. They will examine the concerns raised and supposedly put up the file to the Minister, Manish Tewari. So we waited.