American India Foundation, catalyzing social and economic change in India for the past 23 years, co-sponsored the ‘Purple Fest’ at the official residence of the President of India - Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. The illustrious event was organized by the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. Over 10,000 Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and dozens of civil society organizations championed awareness of disability and celebrated inclusivity in the presence of the Hon’ble President of India Smt. Droupadi Murmu, along with Hon’ble Ministers of DEPwD. The day-long event, as a beacon of empowerment, celebrated the power of partnerships and harmony, as the spirit of inclusion resounded through the halls of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
This one-of-its-kind festival stood as a testament to India's commitment to inclusivity, education, and technological innovation, and served as a platform to increase awareness towards the inclusion of PwDs in society, workplaces, and the economy, shaping a future where everyone has equal opportunities and rights.
The Fest is an extension of AIF’s vision to herald a new era of opportunity and empowerment for PwDs in India. In a recent historic partnership with DEPwD on the World Day of Social Justice, AIF inked a MoU with the ministry to buttress its goal of doubling the number of PwDs in the formal workforce, thereby creating 100,000 new jobs by 2030, under AIF’s flagship award-winning Program - Ability Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE).
Through ABLE, since 2011, AIF has empowered 18,000+ PwDs with training, and facilitated employment for 10,000+ PwDs, while onboarding 1,800+ inclusive employers. These figures directly reflect the impact of our interventions, which encompass a range of initiatives, including modules of sign language courses for corporate employees, an inclusive policy toolkit, multiple job fairs nationwide, accessible videos on employability skills, and an inclusive job portal dedicated to offering remote and inclusive job opportunities for PwDs.
Mr. Rajesh Agarwal, IAS, Secretary, DEPwD, elaborated, “We need to make disability inclusion a more vibrant and engaging realm. I am elated about our association with AIF - an organization that shares the mission of furthering the inclusion of PwDs in the formal workforce and building an inclusive India. With two decades of work experience in Disability Inclusion, AIF has demonstrated unwavering dedication to creating meaningful impact. Our unique association will rally more corporations to contribute meaningfully towards the creation of disability-inclusive spaces. And, the larger aim is to transform the narrative and build a future where inclusion is not just a promise but a palpable reality.”
To further the mission of creating an inclusive workforce, AIF announced a series of 25 job fairs across 25 cities in India for the 10 million candidates associated with the Divyangjan Rozgar Setu PM Daksh Portal, to bridge the yawning gap between the demand and supply of employment opportunities for PwDs. The candidates will be given support in career counseling, resume building, and Indian Sign Language, followed by post-employment retention support, while strengthening their employability skills.
Mr. Matthew Joseph, Country Director of AIF, mentioned, “This partnership signifies a significant milestone in our journey to foster empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and their inclusion in the formal workforce. The Purple Fest gives a unique platform for us to unite, celebrate the achievements of individuals with disabilities, and establish a comprehensive framework for developing, and sustaining meaningful career pathways for PwDs. At the American India Foundation, we firmly believe in a world where disability doesn’t define a person’s ability.
In the esteemed presence of Smt. Droupadi Murmu, the Hon’ble President of India, and, Shri Rajesh Aggarwal IAS, Secretary, DEPwD, Nishant Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, AIF, Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF, and Kamesh Sanghi, Director, Livelihoods, AIF, along with several other dignitaries, the Fest saw participation from 10,000 Persons with Disabilities and multitudinal disability-led groups. The day also witnessed cultural performances by persons with disabilities, LIVE experience zones, and consultative workshops. The Purple Fest – Delhi 2024 truly celebrated India’s diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment, on a world stage.