GUWAHATI: The 7th All India Conference of the Deaf (AICD) successfully took place in Guwahati, Assam from 18th May to 21st May 2023. The said event was organized by the All India Federation of the Deaf (AIFD), New Delhi and hosted by the Assam Association of the Deaf (AAD), Guwahati which is one of the State-level affiliates of AIFD. The 7th AICD assumed special importance as it was held after a gap of 35 years and the previous one was held in New Delhi in 1988.
The four-day conference included a host of activities from presentations to discussions on various topics concerning Deaf people’s rights to Deaf cultural shows. The Organizing Committee (OC) of the 7th AICD, headed by the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Mukul Dutta, played a pivotal role in planning and executing the program while AIFD and AAD provided excellent support in ensuring the success of the conference.
On the opening day, the 18th of May 2023, the flag hoisting took place in the morning to kickstart the conference. The Organizing Committee welcomed Deaf participants from different states of India that were the state-level affiliates of AIFD. These included Kerala, Tamil Nādu, Gujarat, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, New Delhi, and host Assam. The participants from other non-affiliate Deaf organizations from North-Eastern states including Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh were specially invited to participate in the conference. Over 450+ participants were registered for the said conference.
After the lighting diyas by the members of AIFD, AAD and the OC at 3 pm, a cultural performance was hosted by the group of deaf dancers of AAD. This was followed by cultural competition in the categories of dance, drama, and mime. The day ended with dinner at night. On the second day i.e., on 19th May 2023, Shri. Sunil Sahasrabudhe, the President of AIFD and Roshan Kumar, the General Secretary of AIFD gave their presentations.
After lunch, the participants were taken to B.D.S. Deaf and Dumb School, Kahilipara, Guwahati, a state government-run school for deaf children. The Principal of B.D.S. Govt. Higher Secondary School for Hearing Impaired, Kahilipara Shri Kulkeswar Bora welcomed all the participants, and they were provided lunch. At 3 pm, Kishor Thakuria the Director of the Social Welfare department welcomed all the participants. The dignitaries from the AIFD, AAD, and Organizing Committee gave their speeches to the audience. The Director listened to them and promised to bring the necessary support to AAD and for the further welfare of school children. In the evening the participants were taken to the banks of the river Brahmaputra for a memorable ride on a boat.
On the third day, the 20th of May 2023, the leaders from different states gave their reports on the activities within their organizations to all participants thereby exchanging new information with participants from other states. In the afternoon before lunchtime, the Hon’ble Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt of Assam, Pijush Hazarika, MLA Dignata Kalita, Taranga Gogoi, MLA and President of Assam Badminton Association and Tuliram Ronghang, CEM, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council paid a visit to the conference and greeted the audience. He gave a speech listing the various benefits the government has provided to persons with disabilities including Hearing Impaired.
By evening 5 pm, the Governor of Assam, Gulab Chand Kataria graced the closing ceremony of the conference. He gave a wonderful speech after listening to the speeches from the leaders of AIFD, AAD and members of the OC, in which he promised to provide full support to the people of Assam, the AAD and the Indian deaf community in general. He also said that more and more such events of the Deaf people can be organized in Assam and necessary support would be provided by the Government of Assam. After that, he enjoyed the dance performance by a deaf artist and also watched the deaf models walking the ramp to showcase their cultural dresses and fashion costumes. Tapan Kumar Sarma, the General Secretary of AAD gave the valedictory speech and the vote of thanks.
On the 21st of May 2023 morning, the last day of the conference, participants were taken to the City Centre in Guwahati to watch the acclaimed regional Marathi film ‘Baba’ (2019) at PVR, Guwahati. The story of the film revolved around two main deaf characters as a couple using sign language. Sunil Sahasrabudhe, the President of AIFD specially arranged to screen the film for the participants of the 7th AICD. After the show, all the participants were taken to sightseeing around Guwahati and they visited the famous temple of Kamakhya Devi and also the Balaji Mandir. After the dinner, the event concluded with handshakes and hugs among the deaf participants. All in all, the conference was a grand success. The deaf participants thanked Tapan Sarma, the General Secretary of AAD, for hosting it in Guwahati.
A special note is to be made here that the host AAD and the members of the OC could not get the necessary support from the Government of Assam in spite of frequent attempted requests for granting funds for the event. They failed on the financial front when they needed it the most. All Deaf participants from the North-Eastern states were given free registration, food, and accommodation at the conference. To ensure they participated in the conference, their travel expenses were covered by the host AAD with the small funding they received from various sponsors under CSR. The funds they raised could not meet all the expenses incurred towards the event. The host AAD, the OC and AIFD are still in financial distress, and they expected much better treatment from the Government of Assam which at the same time raised crores of rupees under CSR for Natural Farming Conclave which was also held on the campus of the Srimanta Sankardeva International Auditorium, Guwahati.
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