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Move to publish Indian Constitution in Braille welcomed, next step is to actually implement it, say experts

Posted in General

Long overdue, but most welcome. That’s the overwhelming reaction to the
move to publish the Indian Constitution in Braille. A step initiated not by
the government but privately by the Buddhist Association,
which released the first part on 26 November, a day marked as
Constitution Day.

The Braille version will be published in five parts, with the
second likely to be launched in two months’ time.

The move comes at an important moment. In Chennai, disability rights groups
have started a fortnight-long campaign to highlight how people in the
disabled community continue to be excluded when it comes to accessing basic
rights as citizens. At the same time, a Facebook petition has been started by
Chennai-based disability rights activist Vaishnavi Jayakumar
demanding an amendment to Article 15 to acknowledge the
“intersectionalities of discrimination, whether faced due to disability,
age, gender identity, sexual orientation, class etc.”

The Braille version, says Mumbai-based lawyer Amar jain, who
is visually impaired, is an important step as it makes the laws available to

The basic principle of law is that ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
But if someone is deprived of access to the law, then for him or her to be
punished is unfair. To avoid that and to ensure the law is accessible to
everyone is important before we can even talk of equal rights. So this is
an important step in that direction. – Amar Jain, Lawyer

Along with the Constitution in Braille, there will be booklets published with
explanations and extra information to help lawyers and Civil Services
aspirants from the blind and low vision community.

“This way more people can access and become aware of their rights”,
believes Danish Mahajan, who is a core member of
Radio Udaan, the online radio station run by people with
visual impairments. “Many people, both disabled and non-disabled, are
unaware of their rights when it comes to religion or fundamental rights for
that matter. Also, there are aspects in the Constitution that we were not
able to access in detail earlier”.

India is not the first country to have its Constitution in Braille. Countries
like Georgia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Fiji, Mozambique, and the
United States have taken the lead much before.

Better late than never, says Upasana Makati, Founder
& Editor, White Print
, India’s first lifestyle magazine in
Braille format. She believes the step will help build greater awareness and

“As a strong advocate of the Braille script, it reiterates my belief that
we as a society are on the path of inclusion. One step at a time. But I
sincerely hope more and more government bodies and individuals take this up
actively and help expedite the journey towards accessibility and

However as Jain points out, there are some challenges to publishing the
Constitution in Braille. “One of the challenges in publishing laws in
Braille Is to keep it up to date. Once they are amended, you have to publish
the amended version, so there is a cost impact.”

Lauding the initiative, disability rights advocate George
, wishes it had come from the government.

“The initiative is good but it does not mean anything from the point of
view that the government is showing some concern for the blind”, points out
Abraham. “That would make a lot of sense.”

Will the move spur the government to implement the Constitution? Abraham
certainly hopes so. “It is important the Constitution is implemented in
letter and spirit to ensure that people who are being excluded are included.
If that does not happen, it may not justify the effort that has gone into

A sentiment few would quarrel with.


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