Accessibility in India
Modern India is a hugely diverse country – a subcontinent home to over 100 languages and every major religion in the world. It has some of the world's largest cities and remote regions with almost no people. Accessibility varies massively, with substantial improvements being made in many urban centres. Much of the country is more accessible than many might imagine.
Accessibility at New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai airports is good, and in 2023 the government announced an initiative to develop new, accessible terminals and upgrade existing ones. This includes signage, security, help desks and parking. Most airlines and ground handling agents require advance notice (48 hours) for accessibility assistance, and overall things are noticeably improving at all transport hubs in terms of mobility.
Hailing an accessible taxi on the street is difficult, but airport transfers and getting around most cities are easy using one of the many ride-hailing apps, including Ola Cabs and Uber, which feature accessible cars and minibuses. Cars caught from taxi ranks have regulated, metered fares, so prices are predictable and transparent. Several operators offer female-only services, driven by women, for women.
Buses run by state and private operators are everywhere, but demand at peak times substantially outstrips supply, so it’s rarely a convenient, accessible option. Almost all bus stations have been upgraded to suit wheelchair users, but only 6 percent of buses are ‘fully accessible’ and 30 percent ‘partially accessible’.
Fifteen cities have metro or rapid transit rail systems in India, mostly overground services, with more under construction. Travel is cost effective and most people use the National Common Mobility Card to pay, which is also used on buses and ferries. Rail services vary, but are comparable to most countries. The Delhi Metro, for instance, is one of the safest places in the city and has tactile pathways, wheelchair-accessible gates and dedicated elevators.
Most of the car rental business in India is aimed at tourists, who hire a car and driver. Self-drive cars are available through all the global brands and can be useful for city-to-city travel for independence, or to reach more rural routes. Largely though, it’s not recommended as the roads and drivers can feel chaotic to those who’ve not spent time behind the wheel in Southern Asia.
LGBTQ+ in India
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in India have rapidly evolved in recent years. However, some LGBTQ+ may experience social and legal difficulties. Colonial-era laws that directly discriminated against homosexual and transgender identities have been repealed, and India's constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
People are more accepting of same-sex relationships, with around three out of four Indians supporting them. As with most countries, young people in urban settings are more accepting than the older generation or those away from metropolitan centres. Despite this, there are no legal provisions for same-sex marriage.
Gender equality in India
Most Indians support gender equality, but historic gender norms still hold sway for many people—both men and women. This is partly rooted in tradition, where men were the principal breadwinner in the household and sons were given a higher value than daughters.
Though India's constitution guarantees the right to equality and freedom from sexual discrimination, the government maintains some reservations about interfering in the personal affairs of any community without its initiative and consent.
Women in leadership in India
Women have played a pivotal role in the growth and development of India, from running the household to running the nation. There are quota systems for government and commercial boards of directors, but women remain underrepresented in leadership positions. In technology, for instance, female representation is some 40 percent at the entry level but falls to around 15 percent at the managerial level and 4 to 8 percent at the executive level. Only 5 percent of businesses are female-owned.
Mental health in India
Mental health awareness campaigns in India have produced positive outcomes, targeting awareness and addressing the stigma around mental illness – but resources and professional practitioners are limited. Many don’t seek support due to limited finances, but in major cities, excellent quality support, including counselling, is available to those who can afford it. More well-being work is now being delivered nationally, internationally and online, which has widened access to services significantly.
Expats can be at risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, exacerbated by the stress and loneliness of moving away from home. Most international companies are now more aware of the impact of mental health issues, and many have adjusted their policies to provide better support. This includes ensuring that mental illness is well covered by the company’s chosen employee healthcare schemes, as well as promoting knowledge and decreasing stigma by holding in-house workshops.
Unconscious bias in India
Unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about certain groups of people different to themselves. These ideas are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time, and people tend to hold unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with. As a result, the images people hold of such groups tend to be inaccurate and based on assumptions.
Unconscious bias can profoundly affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on employee performance, retention, and recruitment. In a bid to create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training to promote tolerance and understanding.
Diversification of the workforce in India
India’s workforce is as diverse as its population, made up of people from different cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds. Religion can have a bearing on people's values, attitudes and behaviour at work, though it is a sensitive topic to discuss.
Safety in India
India is a relatively safe country for international workers, but petty crime and assault are persistent problems. Daily life experiences may include aggressive begging, pickpocketing and small-scale scams such as overcharging.
Women’s safety in India
Women should be cautious about travelling alone, especially at night, and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention. Gender-based crime is widely reported, though studies of attitudes among female expats generally indicate that they feel safe in India’s modern cities. Women’s safety and security are a top priority for central and state governments.
Calendar initiatives in India
4 January – World Braille Day
4 February – World Cancer Day
8 March – International Women’s Day
7 April – World Health Day
1 May – International Labour Day
18 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
8 September – World Literacy Day
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
10 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
18 November – End Child Sex Abuse Day
25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
1 December – World AIDS Day
3 December – International Day of People with Disabilities
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