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Dr. Mithu Alur at the North South Dialogue IV, Goa in February, 2012
27 March 1943
|Occupation||Educator, Disability Rights Activist, Researcher, Writer, Published Author|
|Years active||1972 – present|
|Organization||ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together|
|Known for||Starting services for people with disability in India|
|Children||Malini Chib, Nikhil Chib|
Mithu Alur (born 27 March 1943) usually referred to as Dr. Mithu Alur, is the founder chairperson of The Spastic Society of India - now rechristened ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together, educator, disability rights activist, researcher, writer and published author on issues concerning people with disability in India.
She is a pioneer in the care and education of people with Neuro-Muscular and Developmental Disabilities, like cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and mental retardation. After her daughter Malini Chib was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she realised that the care of people with conditions like her daughter was non-existent in India. Hence she trained in England and started the Spastics Society of India (SSI) in 1972. Many parents and friends of people with disability in India took inspiration and training from her and her institute to start respective spastics’ societies in different states and today independent Spastic societies exist in 16 states in India with outreach to many rural areas as well.
Dr. Mithu Alur was born and raised in Kolkata. She did her higher education in Delhi in Miranda House. She acquired a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi in 1963. In 1965, she married Ranjit Chib. A year later Malini Chib was born.
Malini was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Finding that no proper school for children with disabilities exited in India, in 1968 she trained as a teacher in the field of Special Education at the Institute of Education (IOE), University of London.
Spastics Society of India
Back home in India, she wanted to open a school in Mumbai, and contacted the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi asked her to get in touch with actress, Nargis Dutt. Nargis Dutt became the first patron of ‘The Spastics Society of India’ (SSI), which formally started on 2 October 1972
Later she set up the first ever special school in India for children with cerebral palsy, "Centre for Special education" at Colaba on 2 October 1973, providing education and treatment facilities under one roof. It began with just three children — Malini Chib, Farhan Contractor and Imtiaz. Nargis Dutt, remained its lifelong patron. After her death in 1981, her mantle was taken up by her husband, Sunil Dutt.
The Spastics Society has since broadened its scope to include programs on teacher training, vocational training of young adults with cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, multiple disabilities and learning disabilities. It also works in the field of advocacy and awareness and offers support to parents and other professionals.
In 1999, Dr. Mithu Alur established the ‘National Resource Centre for Inclusion (NRCI), in Mumbai, to include disabled children from special schools into normal schools. The Spastics Society of India has since changed names and is currently called ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together . Many of the state level spastics societies under the aegis of The Spastics Society of India have also changed names since.
For more information refer ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together.
Dr. Alur’s research work has been instrumental in guiding government policy for people with disability. Her PhD thesis 'Invisible Children - A Study of Policy Exclusion’ in 1998 that was also published as a book in 2003 examined the Government of India’s policy for the disabled. It followed the evolution of educational policy in India for disabled children with specific reference to the Government of India’s pre-school programme called the Integrated Child Development Services (India) (ICDS). Her research found massive exclusion of children and people with disabilities from services and even from Government programmes targeted at the vulnerable and weaker sections of society to the extent of nutrition being denied to children with disabilities. Her finding that over 90% people with disabilities i.e. close to around 70 million people are excluded from services of any kind provided the seminal statistics for those working in the disability sector to push for better care of people with disabilities.
Dr. Alur’s writings, feature articles, opinion pieces, columns and research paper for books, have appeared in many national and international newspapers, magazines, portals etc. including The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Statesman etc. She has also regularly appeared on different news channels specifically NDTV advocating the right of people with disabilities.
Dr. Alur had two children, Malini Chib, a published author and Nikhil Chib, from her marriage to Ranjit Chib. The two divorced in 1976. She is currently married to Sathi Alur since 1981.
For the last ten years, Dr. Alur has been involved with inclusive education and implementing Education for All (EFA) for all children who are not within the purview of mainstream education. She has been working in the slums of Mumbai and has recently finished a longitudinal research with UNICEF where she has created an Education For All model for 'all' children who are disadvantaged including the girl child, the disabled child and children in poverty, demonstrating that inclusive education can happen anywhere including the poorest places. This has been based on work in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai covering a population of 30,000, working with 6,000 families and with community teachers who were trained to teach 'all' children. Today over 3,000 children have been put into municipal schools. Fourteen nurseries have been specially set up for all children within this population, both with and without disabilities. Models for intervention strategies at the family and community levels have been designed.
Dr. Alur, along with husband Sathi Alur is also currently involved in the Shiksha Sankalp project, an action based research project under the aegis of ADAPT and co-funded by BMZ (Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development), Germany and CBM (Christian Blind Mission) that aims to "formulate a protocol or blueprint for screening children out of school—especially the disabled ones—and to create a database which would help the (Indian) government to formulate curriculum according to the special needs".
She also started the Mithu Alur Foundation with the intention to create an inclusive village model in Maharashtra. The Foundation aims to create an inclusive village model that has schools, hospitals, medical services and livelihood through skills training programmes, women's empowerment etc.
She has been a vocal activist against the exclusion of people with disabilities and has written articles, books and papers propagating inclusion in society. Talking about the exclusion of children of disabilities under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act RTE Act from schools, she said:
This is a flawed concept. Without meaning to, special schools end up excluding the children from society. Why should a child be treated differently just because a child needs to write with the help of a software instead of a pen?"
Dr. Alur has advocated inclusive education under the news provisions in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act RTE Act, stating that it will help every single kid, even those kids who are not seen to have any disability.
Inclusive education is not special education. It does not refer only to children with special needs, it refers to all children facing some sort of barrier to learning and participation in the classroom. Inclusion is improved access to education. Inclusive education is really education for all — children from poor socio-economic backgrounds (which the RTE is addressing), the girl child facing cultural barriers and children with special needs facing systemic institutional barriers. It is high-quality education individualised to each child’s needs. Children are not seen as one homogeneous mass, but individuals with their own levels of functioning, who work at their own pace. It is an exciting concept, a new approach to teaching children. Here the belief is no child is a failure and each learner’s challenge is special."
Dr. Alur has been extensively quoted in books, articles and news reports for TV. She also lectured in many institutes across the world.
Awards and Honours
- In 1989 the Government of India awarded her with the Padma Shri Award
- In 2006 was presented the Paul Harris Fellow Award by Rotary International, USA.
- In 2009 was awarded the EMPI – Indian Express Indian Innovation Award.
- In 2009 was awarded the Woman of the Year Award for Outstanding Woman Citizen of Mumbai by the Indian Merchant Chamber.
- In 2010 was awarded the Woman of the Year – CNN IBN Super Idol Award.
- In 2003 she became the first recipient of the ‘Martha Forrest Rose Quartz Warrior Award’ in Canada.
- Education and Children with Special needs – from segregation to integration, with Seamus Hegarty, Published by Sage Publications, new Delhi, 2002.
- Invisible Children – A Study of Policy Exclusion, Viva Books Private Limited, New Delhi, 2003.
- Inclusive Education – The Proceedings of North South Dialogue I (with Professor Tony Booth).
- Inclusive Education – From Rhetoric to Reality, The North South Dialogue II with Dr. Michael Bach.
- The Journey for Inclusive Education in the Indian Sub-Continent, with Michael Back Published by Routledge, New York, USA, 2009.
- Inclusive Education Across Cultures: Crossing Boundaries, Sharing Ideas, co-edited with Vianne Timmons, Published by Sage, 2009.
- Encyclopaedia of Social Work in India, by India Ministry of Welfare. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India), 1987. Page 197.
- Spastics Society, Bandra, Mumbai - Profile Archived 4 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine Tata, www.tatainternational.com.
- History Archived 23 February 2005 at Archive.today www.nrcissi.org.
- Focus on education for disabled children The Hindu, 28 January 2003.
- "Examples in Leadership - Social Entrepreneurs". internationalforum.com.
- Official Website of The Spastics Society Of India that is now called ADAPT
- Alur, Mithu. "British Library EThOS: Invisible children : a study of policy exclusion". bl.uk.
- "Invisible Children". google.co.in.
- "RAXA". raxa.com.
- on YouTube at NDTV
- on YouTube at CNN-IBN
- "Teacher Education page" (PDF). Department of Social Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
- "SoBo's dark secret". mid-day.com.
- "Move to identify special kids gets UN push". The Times of India.
- A Profile of ADAPT in LiveEarth.org
- "Let education not be special". hindustantimes.com.
- "Huge learning curve ahead". indianexpress.com.
- Padma Shri Awards (1980–1989)
- Indian Volunteer Awards
- "Indian Innovation Awards". empi.in.
- on YouTube
- Press Release at IBN-7
- "Author - Mithu Alur". SAGE.
- "Inclusive Education". google.co.in.
- "9788130901572 - Inclusive Education - From Rhetoric to Reality : The North South Dialogue II by Mithu Alur - Biblio.com - 8130901579". biblio.com.
- "The Journey for Inclusive Education in the Indian Sub-Continent (Routledge Research in Education): Mithu Alur, Michael Bach: 9780415988766: Amazon.com: Books". amazon.com.
- The National Resource Centre for Inclusion - The Spastics Society of India , Official website
- The Spastics Society of India Detailed Profile
- Mithu Alur’s Profile on NDTV