Disability need not stop anyone from work and economic freedom. Perfumed candles, microwaveproof leaf plates, trendy clothes and accessories, all these and more are being made by people with autism, multiple disabilities and are sold in obscure locations across the country.
Now these products will carry a brand name and will be knit together as a giant marketing corporation with markets in India and abroad.
The process began this week with the former President APJ Abdul Kalam launching the Association for Rehabilitation under National Trust Initiative in Marketing (ARUNIM), an autonomous body under the National Trust, for the welfare of persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities. The body will be run under the Ministry for social Justice and Empowerment.
ARUNIM will be the official salesman for the products and services of the disabled as well as a market place for them to sell their wares.
This will also be a meeting point for companies that wish to work for the disabled as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
ARUNIM, with a corpus of Rs 1 crore, is already on the move. Its chairperson Sminu Jindal, who also heads Jindal Saw and an NGO Swayam, says she will soon appoint a researcher or consultant to identify the available products with the 800 NGO members of the National Trust. These will now naturally become members of ARUNIM making it a huge cooperative network right from the beginning.
“The research is needed to understand to prioritise the prouduct launhes. The second agenda before ARUNIM is to get more corporations into the effort. So many companies are doing their bit for the disabled but the impact gets dissipated as there is no synergising agent,” she says.
We will be totally market driven and will guide many present manufacturers to migrate from one product to another, which has a beeter chance of success. It would mean standardisation and training people in manufacturing successful products. The inclusion of products from 800 NGOs does not close ARUNIM to others, she says.
“We may have a set of 400 or just 20 products. In about a year, our first product will be in the market under our brand name,” she adds.
While the branding and marketing plans to help those with multiple disabilities and conditions like autism, ARUNIM may also be able to support people with temporarily disabled bodies, like from an accident or disease, says the wheelchair borne Jindal who lost her legs in a road accident. She gives full credit to the National Trust chairperson Poonam Natarajan for the effort.”It is Natarajan’s vision which has led to the birth of ARUNIM,” she says.
Natarajan is very clear about objectives. The point is that the disabled also need to earn money. “They are earning now but not enough,” says Natarajan.
Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.