[AI] The blind diplomat

rajesh asudani rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Tue Jul 10 01:11:29 EDT 2007


Well, he maybe. and I do not, for a second, doubt that a blind person, 
[including myself], may be happily married.

However, blindness surely is a factor in matrimonial choice, as are other 
factors like economic security and many more.

I get a feeling that some members regard matrimony purely a matter of choice 
and would not appreciate use of termslike exclusion etc. This is so, because 
we tend to construe such terms in purely legal or nowadays economic sense. 
However, social exclusion is as real a phenonmenon as any other aspect of 
exclusion. Many of us must have experienced it in even mundane daily 
activities like conversation etc. wwhen one abruptly discovers that the 
person one is talking to has already shifted his/her attention to some other 
person or thing, or worse more, has left the place. We tend to take all such 
things in our stride, however this does not dinimish their reality.

When it is true of such mundane activities, it would only be delusional not 
to apply it to more grave choices like matrimony etc.

Basic attitudes form the core of various interactions including social, 
economic, official and even legal. Reality of various realms is not so at 
odds with eachother.

I am not trying to statistically prove the cause and effect relationship or 
correlation between blindness and marriage, though it may form a good 
research topic in some disciplines. However, mutual impact of above facts on 
one another can not be denied.

Let me present a crude generalisation. It is definitely easy for a blind boy 
to marry a sighted girl than for a blind girl to find  a sighted life 
partner. This is the reason of gross mismatch between the number of couples 
belonging to former type than those belonging to later.

Regards
Rajesh
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Geetha Shamanna" <geetha at millernorbert.de>
To: <accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 8:55 PM
Subject: Re: [AI] The blind diplomat


> David blunket was married and divorced.
> This is not a matter of exclusion, but a matter of choice.
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "rajesh asudani" <rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in>
> To: <accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
> Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 3:07 PM
> Subject: Re: [AI] The blind diplomat
>
>
> Yes, I do also inclined to hold the same opinion, even David Blunket seems
> not to have married!
>
> Exclusion is ubiqutous.
>
> Rajesh
> ----- 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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