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Sonipat (Haryana) [India], November 4 (ANI/OP Jindal University): Dignity for people with reduced mobility can be ensured through an inclusive environment that can be used by everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or disability as it is essentially a human rights issue, said Sminu Jindal MD, Jindal Saw Ltd., Founder & Chairperson, Svayam, an initiative of S. J. Charitable Trust that has been working towards providing independence and dignity to people with reduced mobility.

Svayam has been engaged in making various public places accessible for all, especially the elderly and the disabled.

The organisation is spearheaded by Sminu Jindal as its Chairperson and her experiences led to a focused action plan of Svayam to promote accessibility in community infrastructure, by way of access audits/appraisals of the public infrastructure and suggesting the access solutions to make these places barrier free and accessible to all.

Svayam aims at not only generating awareness about the trials and tribulations of reduced mobility populace (that includes the elderly, expecting mothers, mothers with newborn babies as well as toddlers and the physically challenged) but also moulds public and policy-makers' opinion in favour of public private participation in providing and executing accessibility solutions.

Welcoming Sminu Jindal to the O.P. Jindal Global University campus, the Founding Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof (Dr) C Raj Kumar said, "Sminu Jindal is the Managing Director of Jindal SAW Ltd, and Founder Chairperson of accessibility organisation Svayam. She is the first successful woman in the predominantly male bastion of steel, oil, and gas. An indefatigable champion of Accessibility for All, Jindal was the first to train the spotlight on the need for accessibility in the built environment. Personal challenges made her aware of the hurdles for those facing reduced mobility issues such as the elderly, pregnant women, children, and those with temporary or permanent disability. It was this zeal that resulted in Svayam in the year 2000. A non-profit that is India's first accessibility organisation, Svayam's efforts have not only made World Heritage Sites such as the Qutub Minar and Fatehpur Sikri group of monuments truly accessible to all but also made great impact on rural sanitation, para sports, healthcare, built infrastructure, public transport and much more."

Sminu Jindal, Chairperson Svayam explained how different life experiences can be for people with reduced mobility as their options are reduced by the choices available to them. "Accessibility is essentially a human rights issue. The biggest hurdle is inclusiveness. It is not just about disability; it is about reduced mobility for all - from issues like broken bones to older people with health barriers. Do you know that 80 per cent of people with disabilities are not born with it? I was eleven years old when I met with an accident and I thought I was the only person in the world with an injury. How many of us have studied with a person in a wheelchair? My problem was not about getting educated but going to an institution which was accessible. What about the common man? What jobs are we talking about? What quality of life can they aspire to? Reduced mobility is not another way of living life. We need ramps, elevators, escalators etc for easy movement. I started with a website which compiled all the support and facilities available for those with mobility issues. When world renowned scientist Stephen Hawking came to India in 1988, he rued that he couldn't go to see the Taj Mahal or the Qutub Minar. It took me 200 visits to various offices to get Qutub Minar accessible and then I worked on accessibility projects at Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal. We at Svayam have worked with NDMC to make public conveniences and sidewalks accessible, working with ASI to make world heritage sites accessible along with DTC the Bus Q shelters. I am proud to say that today Delhi can boast of having India's first and only accessible World Heritage site- Qutub Minar. It did take us 2 and half years but a beginning was made. Our next project is to build accessible toilets in India's villages and we have reached out to nearly 100 districts in India.

A multi-awarded, multifaceted personality, Ms Jindal has been invited to share her journey by prestigious institutions across the world, most recently the Global Leadership Conference of the Entrepreneurs Organization where she was the only Indian to be conferred the honour. She has also been the Chairperson of the ASSOCHAM National Council on Iron & Steel and chaired the Association for Rehabilitation under the National Trust Initiative in Marketing (ARUNIM).

During her visit, specific reflections were shared by Prof (DR.) Shilpi Bhattacharya and Dr Devyani Mourya Assistant Professor of the Jindal Global Law School.

Prof. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, Registrar JGU gave the concluding address and thanked Ms Sminu Jindal for sensitizing students about mobility issues and how each person can volunteer to bring about a change. "We are privileged to host Ms Sminu Jindal at our campus. It is our endeavor to provide knowledge about various areas of study to our students and today we were able to speak about values of empathy, diversity, civic and social responsibility to our JGU community. This is part of our holistic learning and makes us well rounded individuals. We are also committed to making our campus even more accessible and also protect the rights of people with disabilities." Svayam will be conducting a two-day workshop with JGU's leading learning centre the Jindal School of Art and Architecture to sensitize participants that accessibility and mobility issues affect every individual.

This story is provided by OP Jindal University. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/OP Jindal University)

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