Kolkata, April 29 (IANS) Carrying placards and banners with eye care messages against the backdrop of the iconic Victoria Memorial, diplomats, government officials and cultural and sports personalities walked blindfolded on Sunday guided by visually impaired students to raise awareness about avoidable blindness.
Over 550 people took part in the march led by around 50 students from the Blind Boys’ Academy of Ramakrishna Mission after the event was flagged off by Australia’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu.
Chess Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua, hockey Olympian Gurbux Singh, percussionist Bickram Ghosh, veteran actor Victor Banerjee, Victoria Memorial Hall Secretary and Curator Jayanta Sengupta and India Vision Institute (IVI) CEO Vinod Daniel – all blindfolded – were among those taking part in the ‘Walk in the Dark’ march.
“In India, there are around 50 million people with moderate and severe visual impairment. The Indian economy loses potential productivity of over Rs 126,500 crore due to uncorrected refractive errors,” said Daniel.
“There is a direct correlation between learning and vision. Our campaign and activities therefore also target children. The underprivileged communities in India need access to vision screening and spectacles if initiatives and public health interventions are to make a difference.”
The march was hosted by Victoria Memorial Hall and organised by IVI and Essilor India’s ‘Think Abour Eyes Campaign’ with the support of NSHM Knowledge Campus, Kolkata.
“Such campaigns are important to raise awareness about visual impairment, a serious problem in India,” said Sengupta.
The organisers said with people with proper eyesight walking blindfolded, the event highlighted and sensitised participants and the general public to the difficulties faced by the visually challenged, and the way in which they work around their disability.
The walk came to Kolkata after six cities since 2014 — Chennai (November 2014), Hyderabad (April 2015), Delhi (October 2015), Mumbai (March 2016), Bengaluru (October 2016) and Panjim (November 2017).