New Delhi: Anjali Mehta is busy showing the meet up event of Inclov to her fiance, except that he is in Mumbai and is on a video call with her. Inclov is the dating app through which the two of them met. The event at Kitty Su nightclub at The Lalit is part of the app’s ‘Social Spaces’ or regular meet ups, which hosts the differently abled.
Founded by Kalyani Khona and Shankar Srinivasan in 2016, Inclov is the world’s first dating application for the differently abled and people with health disorders. Inclov later expanded its user base to include people without disabilities to become an inclusive app.
Mehta’s love story has broken a taboo. It was she who popped the question to her fiancé Arpan, a banker by profession. But that’s not the only unusual thing about them. 31-year-old Mehta who works as a teacher was surprised when her mother registered her in Inclov, a year ago.
Mehta who doesn’t suffer from any disabilities said she was not enthusiastic about using Inclov but decided to give it a shot when other dating apps failed to yield her any result.
“I thought dating Arpan would a big responsibility as he suffers from cerebral palsy in the knees, leaving him wheel chair bound. But after meeting him I realised that he was very independent,” Mehta said.
Like Mehta many others at the meet up were introduced to Inclov by their families. This may look unusual as parents in India often don’t encourage dating.
"Inclov and its gatherings are not just limited to dating but also about providing a social life to people who never had the opportunity to have one," said Janeet Anand, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is a Disability Rights activist.
“The crowd here is as energetic as the crowd at any other night club,” said the DJ, Varun Khullar, one of the first wheelchair bound DJs of India who faced difficulties in finding jobs as many places were not disabled friendly.
"The idea behind Inclov was to provide an online platform to differently abled people to find a match but Social Spaces was a step ahead in taking relationships offline," said Shankar Srinivasan, co-founder of Inclov.
“We found out that many of our users are hesitant to meet each other in person in fear of not finding a disabled friendly space”, added Srinivasan.
Inclov had provided wheel chairs & a sign interpreter for their guests at the event.
Some believe that app needs to put in more effort to increase its inclusivity . "The profiles on Inclov are 'too straight' and needs to include homosexual and bisexual community as well", said Shivangi Agrawal who identifies herself as a queer.
Agrawal who suffered from orthopedic impairment found dating apps like Tinder to be more inclusive than Inclov when it comes to people embracing their sexuality and even disability.
Payal Kukreja who works at MetLife, suffers from orthopedic impairment was disappointed when her date hid his disability despite the app asking people to specify it.
Srinivasan said that the user interface for an app that comprises more than 30 thousand active users needs to be upgraded constantly.
Inclov has not just benefitted its users but also people trying to help them find a match.
“There is nothing as special as finding love for the differently abled people but it’s challenging as people only think about providing physical assistance to the differently abled while the idea of providing emotional support is undermined,” said Swati Kamboj, a matchmaker at Inclov.
“At the end of the day it is about making love happen,” Kamboj added.
Inclov plans to reach out to a global audience and will be launched in Australia by the end of this year, tentatively.