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Why are the disabled called Divyang?

In recent years, there has been a growing shift in the terminology used to refer to individuals with disabilities. One term that has gained attention and sparked discussions is “Divyang.” This article explores the origins, cultural significance, and impact of using the term “Divyang” to refer to people with disabilities.


What does “Divyang” mean?

The term “Divyang” is a Hindi word that translates to “divine body” or “divine limb” in English. It was introduced by the Indian government in 2016 as an alternative term to “disabled” or “viklang” in Hindi. The intention behind this change was to promote a more respectful and inclusive way of referring to individuals with disabilities.

The significance of the term

By using the term “Divyang,” the government aimed to emphasize the abilities, potential, and unique qualities of individuals with disabilities. It seeks to highlight their inherent strength, resilience, and their ability to overcome challenges. The term aims to empower individuals by focusing on their positive attributes rather than their limitations.

Historical context

The origin of the term “Divyang” can be traced back to ancient Indian philosophy, which views the human body as a vessel through which the divine manifests itself. In this context, the term “Divyang” represents the belief that every individual, regardless of their physical or mental abilities, possesses a divine essence within them.

Cultural perspective

Using the term “Divyang” aligns with the cultural values of respect, empathy, and inclusivity in Indian society. It recognizes the dignity and worth of individuals with disabilities and promotes a more compassionate and understanding approach towards them.

Empowering connotations

The adoption of the term “Divyang” aims to shift the narrative surrounding disabilities from a perspective of pity or sympathy to one of empowerment and strength. By focusing on the divine qualities within individuals, it aims to redefine their identity beyond their disabilities and encourages a more positive self-perception.

Positive impact on self-esteem

One of the significant advantages of using the term “Divyang” is its potential to boost the self-esteem of individuals with disabilities. It acknowledges their abilities and accomplishments, reinforcing a sense of pride and self-worth. This positive outlook can have a transformative effect on their overall well-being and confidence.

Encouraging societal inclusion

The introduction of the term “Divyang” aims to challenge societal attitudes towards disabilities. By highlighting the divinity within individuals, it seeks to break down barriers and prejudices, fostering a more inclusive society where individuals with disabilities are accepted, respected, and provided with equal opportunities.

Government Initiatives and Policies

The Indian government has taken several initiatives to support individuals with disabilities. Along with introducing the term “Divyang,” various policies and schemes have been implemented to ensure their rights, accessibility, and social inclusion. These efforts include providing education, healthcare, employment opportunities, and accessible infrastructure.

Global examples

The idea of using alternative terms to refer to individuals with disabilities is not limited to India. Similar initiatives have been taken in various countries worldwide. For example, in the United States, person-first language is commonly used, emphasizing the individual before their disability.


The term “Divyang” has emerged as an attempt to reshape the discourse around disabilities in India. It seeks to empower individuals, change societal attitudes, and promote inclusion. While the term has received both support and criticism, its introduction has sparked important discussions about the language we use to address and represent people with disabilities.

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