[AI] The blind diplomat

rajesh asudani rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Mon Jul 9 05:37:00 EDT 2007

Yes, I do also inclined to hold the same opinion, even David Blunket seems 
not to have married!

Exclusion is ubiqutous.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "dr.u.n.sinha narain" <drunsinha at gmail.com>
To: "Geetha Shamanna" <geetha at millernorbert.de>; 
<accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 1:28 AM
Subject: Re: [AI] The blind diplomat

>i met mr. rabby. i saw his capacities, when i met him in lucknow.
> since he is transferred from india, i could not contact him, as i do
> not have his e mail now. my questionis the gentle man is so qualified
> but why he has not married? is it general blind problem everywhere?
> regards
> drun
> On 7/8/07, Geetha Shamanna <geetha at millernorbert.de> wrote:
>>      The Saturday Profile
>>                  A U.S. Diplomat With an Extraordinary Global View
>>      By [4]MARC LACEY
>>      PORT OF SPAIN, [5]Trinidad
>>      AS chief of the political section at the American Embassy here for 
>> the
>>      last two years, Avraham Rabby has had the job of surveying Trinidads
>>      political landscape for Washington.
>>      The fact that he has not actually seen the Caribbean island or any 
>> of
>>      the places on five continents where he has been posted has not 
>> stymied
>>      him.
>>      I necessarily listen more than a sighted person would, he said. If 
>> Im
>>      walking along a street, I can tell there is a building next to me
>>      because of the echoes of my feet or my cane. A blind person sees the
>>      world differently from a sighted person. Our impressions are no less
>>      valid.
>>      Mr. Rabby, who lost his sight at the age of 8 because of detached
>>      retinas, is the State Departments first blind diplomat. It is an
>>      achievement he fought for in the 1980s, passing three written 
>> entrance
>>      exams and two oral exercises along the way. But even then, the State
>>      Department barred him from the diplomatic corps.
>>      You dont ask a blind person to drive a bus or be a bank teller, 
>> George
>>      S. Vest, who was the personnel director for the Foreign Service,
>>      explained in a 1988 interview. There are jobs which are dangerous or
>>      unsuitable for them. And in the Foreign Service, were full of jobs
>>      like that.
>>      The department contended that diplomats, blind ones included, had to
>>      be able to work anywhere in the world and to work with confidential
>>      documents without any outside aid. In addition, State Department
>>      officials said, diplomats had to be able to pick up on nonverbal 
>> cues,
>>      such as winks or nods, which can sometimes have more meaning than 
>> the
>>      words being uttered.
>>      But Mr. Rabby illustrated another essential quality of diplomats:
>>      perseverance. No international treaty has ever been decided on the
>>      basis of a wink or a nod, he retorted, after hiring a lawyer and
>>      challenging the State Departments policy, which dated from the 18th
>>      century.
>>      Aiding Mr. Rabbys effort was a federal law barring the government 
>> from
>>      disqualifying prospective employees because of disabilities.
>>      Eventually, after the news media and Congress found out about his
>>      case, the State Department reversed course. The new policy would
>>      consider disabled diplomats on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Rabby 
>> became
>>      case No. 1.
>>      In 1990, he was off to London, where he was posted at the embassy
>>      there as a junior political officer. He moved next to Pretoria, 
>> South
>>      Africa, where [6]Nelson Mandela had just been freed from prison and
>>      where Mr. Rabby witnessed the countrys first free elections. It was
>>      one of the most stimulating experiences in my life, he said, noting
>>      that he was one of the embassys election observers.
>>      People ask me how I can assess a political rally if I cant see it, 
>> he
>>      said. I tell them that I listen to the crowd and to the speakers. 
>> You
>>      can sense what is going on.
>>      He spent time in Washington at the State Departments Bureau of Human
>>      Rights, and in postings in Lima and New Delhi. During a stint at the
>>      United States Mission to the [7]United Nations, he helped write
>>      resolutions dealing with literacy, global health and the rights of 
>> the
>>      disabled.
>>      His final posting he retired at the end of June at the mandatory
>>      retirement age of 65 was to Port of Spain, where he became an expert
>>      in Trinidads political system, which has long been divided between
>>      parties, one predominantly Afro-Trinidadian and one 
>> Indo-Trinidadian.
>>      When journalists descended on Trinidad recently in search of
>>      information on the suspected plot to set off a bomb at a fuel line 
>> at
>>      Kennedy International Airport that was traced back to this Caribbean
>>      island, he became one of the officials to talk to.
>>      A diplomat does a lot of writing, a lot of reading, a lot of 
>> thinking,
>>      a lot of talking and has to attend a lot of meetings, he said. 
>> Thanks
>>      to technological advances and a full-time assistant, Mr. Rabby could
>>      do all of those things too.
>>      He wrote his cables to Washington using a machine that wrote in
>>      Braille. He then read them back to his assistant, Rhonda Singh, who
>>      typed them up. He also had a computer with a speech program that
>>      allowed him to listen to his e-mail messages.
>>      As for tracking news developments, Ms. Singh, an American citizen 
>> who
>>      lives in Trinidad, read him the local papers. I was basically his
>>      eyes, she said.
>>      BORN in Israel, Mr. Rabby, who is known as Rami, was sent to live 
>> with
>>      an aunt in England at the age of 10 because his parents believed 
>> there
>>      were better schools for the blind there. A Hebrew speaker, he 
>> quickly
>>      mastered English at Worcester College for Blind Boys.
>>      I remember the headmaster used to go out and speak to groups about 
>> the
>>      school, and he used to say that we teach our boys to stand on their
>>      own two feet and, if necessary, to step on yours too, Mr. Rabby
>>      recalled.
>>      He went off to Oxford, where he studied French and Spanish. Finding 
>> a
>>      job after college proved a challenge. Time and time again I met
>>      recruiters who felt that a blind person could not work in 
>> management,
>>      he said in the British accent that he has never lost.
>>      Eventually, he joined Ford Motor Company in Britain, where he worked
>>      in human resources. After about a year, he moved to the United 
>> States
>>      and earned an M.B.A. at the [8]University of Chicago.
>>      After graduation in 1969, he sought out a management training 
>> program,
>>      but had few offers after dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of
>>      interviews.
>>      He finally landed a job with a management consulting firm, Hewitt
>>      Associates, and later moved to Citibank. He also spent time as an
>>      independent consultant, writing a number of employment guides,
>>      including one giving advice to blind job seekers.
>>      One of my problems in my working life, after a few years I get a bit
>>      tired of what I am doing and I want to change, said Mr. Rabby, who
>>      became an American citizen in 1980.
>>      It was while living in New York that he decided to make the jump 
>> into
>>      international relations, a longtime interest. The State Departments
>>      regular rotations of its diplomats proved a perfect fit.
>>      His fight to join the Foreign Service has helped others along the 
>> way.
>>      There are now four blind Foreign Service officers stationed around 
>> the
>>      globe, the State Department said, among about 170 disabled Foreign
>>      Service employees overseas.
>>      MR. RABBY said blind Foreign Service officers had recently been
>>      restricted from adjudicating visa applications because of their
>>      inability to verify photographs and signatures of applications.
>>      Mr. Rabby, who attributes the decision to the increased restrictions
>>      after the Sept. 11 attacks, said he did visa work at the start of 
>> his
>>      career in London, with the assistance of a reader, who verified
>>      documents for him. He asked the questions and assessed the 
>> responses.
>>      The State Department is not yet completely on the side of the 
>> angels,
>>      he said. A State Department official disputed that there was a 
>> policy
>>      in place restricting the assignments of blind diplomats. Decisions 
>> on
>>      assigning personnel, the official said, are made on a case-by-case
>>      basis in accordance with the law.
>>      Even before Mr. Rabby headed out into the world as a diplomat, he 
>> was
>>      already testifying before Congress on his quest for the job. He said
>>      back then that he did not want to be put in a pigeonhole as a blind
>>      diplomat.
>>      Blind people are as different from one another as sighted people, he
>>      told members of the House Foreign Affairs and Civil Service 
>> Committees
>>      in 1989. There is no such thing as a category labeled, blind.
>>      Prior Beharry contributed reporting.
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