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  India is a country with a population of over 100 crores. According to some localized sample survey about 3% of this population are mentally retarded. Till date there has been no survey at the national level to give a total picture of this condition.
Before independence there were no initiatives to recognize and provide any service to these special people. They were looked upon with pity. In 1950 government of India recognized mentally retarded persons as participants in the total development of the country along with the others.
Today people still look upon the mentally retarded children with pity. Families still break up due to a mentally retarded child in the family. Even there are people, at this time, who think that a god’s curse or a defect in the mother’s system lead to the birth of a mentally retarded child. Always mothers are taken to be responsible for the birth of such children.
Vision is changing fast. The government and the non-government organizations are working hard to develop a social awareness regarding these special children. They are imparting free education and vocational training too to these special children at their respective level of intelligence. They are trained to live an independent life as much as possible.
‘shelter’ is such a non-government organization working for the benefit of these special children. They impart a minimum level of education as well as provide vocational training to these children according to their level of skill and intelligence. Working under the guidelines of rehabilitation council of India they also train teachers to look after the special children and work with them in a free and friendly environment.
I have visited these children many times and came up with this photo story, which is not to create sympathy but to establish the fact regarding the present condition of these special children in India. Still now, only a very few mentally retarded children in India are benefitted from the facilities provided by Indian government and the ngo-s. The part of the iceberg, which lies under the water, is not even aware of such facilities. They still lead a pitiful life in their families. Some news occasionally pop up that mentally retarded children are leading their lives in captivities, chained up or locked in rooms.
These children are special. They cannot run fast in life as we do. They need us, not our sympathy but our acceptance. They are part of us and they need our help. One day (and that day is very near???) We hope we will all understand them.
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