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2. Preface to The St. John's Handbook of Rehabilitation v6 highlighted

Four words that my Professor, Dr Suranjan Bhattacharji, spoke nearly 25 years ago have
stayed with me. They were: “converting resource-burners into resource-earners”. Many
people regard disability work just as a humanitarian task. This is far from the truth. Two
sociological concepts that are inter-twined are poverty is expensive and disability
handicaps the un-impaired.
The fact that the disability of one person affects somebody who is not disabled is rarely
appreciated. The phrase “no man is an island” is very apt in this situation. One person’s
problem is indeed another person’s problem. If one person is not working, then another
able bodied person has to work for himself/herself and the disabled person who is not
working... and also for the care-giver who is also not working. It is therefore in everyone’s
interest that the disabled and their caregivers earn for their upkeep as far as possible.
Interestingly, the reasons for the disabled not working are not always medical.
If you look out of your window onto the road outside, there is a high chance that you will
see an un-sung innovation of astounding magnitude. This is the ubiquitous 2-wheeler with
2 additional wheels attached, being ridden by people with locomotor disabilities. These
are people whose earlier lives and souls had been incarcerated within their houses with
devastating sociological consequences to their families. Countless numbers of such
persons across the country have been magically liberated and transformed. They now
work, live meaningful lives and love what they can do to contribute to society. And it all
started because of ignited minds and 2 wheels. The St John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation
seeks to ignite more minds.
India’s economy is booming. It is reckoned as one of the super-powers in the decades to
come. However within this success story there is an un-appreciated sump into which the
national economy is draining. The World Health Organisation states that approximately
10% of the population of any country is disabled. India’s population has crossed 1.2 billion;
this means there are about 12 crore disabled people in India.
Our belief is that the social dimensions of disability go far beyond the disabled person, the
family and the community and affects the whole nation. The 12 crore disabled people in
India can be triaged into people with mild, moderate and severe disability. Triage is done
with the aim of maximizing results, and historically focuses primarily on the moderately
affected group.
Most of these moderately disabled people are mostly not working, and consequently not
contributing to the nation’s economy. However the problem is bigger than 3 or 4 crore
people, as many, in addition, need a family member to look after their various needs.
xvi  The St. John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation
Thus there are about 6 crore people in India who are not contributing to the national
economy. Yet, many of them - with our concerted effort - could be relatively easily
transformed from resource-burners into resources-earners. (In India, the numbers are so
large that even a small margin can result in huge dividend.)
The St. John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation is an impetus to drive a juggernaut across India
in order to reach these millions of people with the aim of restoring human dignity and
creating resource-earners. This juggernaut includes people, hospitals, tertiary centres,
governments, corporates, voluntary organisations and funding agencies. Many of these
groups have already come together.
An on-going on-line training to train the primary physicians, to impart knowledge, bring
about an attitudinal change towards disability, and to give them practical information is
envisaged. Work on this front has also begun. Work to open up economic opportunities
for the large numbers of newly empowered people with disabilities willing and wanting
to contribute to the national economy has also started.
Rehabilitation, I believe, is not the exclusive purview of rehabilitation specialists, and so
the door was opened to all people from specialities to contribute to this Rehabilitation
handbook. The outpouring of goodwill and the number of articles that we received
swamped us. We received a deluge of articles from patients, caregivers and professionals
from many disciplines, many countries, and several national and international
By the time we sorted out the articles, we were thrilled to note that amongst the mails
received were articles from an organisation that had won the Nobel Peace Prize and two
Fulbright scholars. (Interestingly 53 Fulbright scholars to date have won the Nobel Prize.)
Within these hundreds of people who have invested in the Handbook, now lies vested the
countervailing power of this Handbook. [John Kenneth Galbraith].
Compiling The St. John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation is only the first step in rehabilitating
the many, many disabled people in India, and turning them into an economic force. This
is a task for which we need your help.
Dr Kurian Zachariah
St John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation
4th November, 2014