Disability Protests in India 1970 - Present

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Sharon BARNARTT, Sociology, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, USA 20002, USA
Protests relating to disability issues, whether or not carried out by people with disabilities, have occurred at least since the early 1970's in India, but there has been little attention paid to them by social movements scholars. This paper examines over 200 such protests which occurred during this time period. It asks about patterns in timing, impairment type, protest demand, type of tactic, organizational involvement, and societal reactions, including police presence and arrests.
Data are part of a larger event history analysis project on disability protests around the world. Data are primarily drawn from English language newspaper articles, although other sources, such as web sites and interview data, are used when possible. While newspaper articles do have problems of reliability and validity, their use can begin to provide an introductory picture which can then be analysed more intensively. Variables are coded and analyzed quantitatively.
Cultural differences in protest history and meaning, as well as in views of disability in general and impairment types specifically, exist, but some cultural comparisons seem possible. Preliminary analyses show that, while the largest group of Indian disability protests relate to issues which potentially touch all persons with disabilities, the second largest group of protests focused on blindness issues. This is somewhat unusual, since, in most other countries analyzed, blindness-related protests comprise only a small percentage of all protests. (In some other countries this can be explained by patterns of organizational mobilization.) Other analyses suggest greater protest disruptiveness than in many other countries and greater social control attention paid to the protests. For example, hunger strikes and protests setting themselves on fire are more common in this context, as are arrests. This analysis attempts to consider these and other patterns within the Indian context as well as how data limitations affect the results.