Showing posts with label NGOs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NGOs. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2010

Whose interest does the RWAs serve.. of only men or of women, children & disabled too?

Dear Friends,

I appreciate that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is promoting the citizen's participation in maintaing their surroundings, community parks etc under Bhagidari Scheme of Delhi Government. The money being given away to RWAs is also welcome which could be spent on maintenance of parks. It is a well known fact that unless the communities feel the ownership for public property, it may be difficult to maintain the same and implement various related schemes.

However, be cautious that in absence of control, RWAs are becoming platforms to exert individual egos and working in the self interest of certain few holding offices. There have been incidences of sex biases, class biases and baises on the basis of disability.

The rights of children to play in the park are marred by increasing incidences of ornamental parks being made keeping only the older male walkers in mind. Also during the day whole park is filled with water with no space for women and children to relax or play. These parks maintained at public costs are most of the time inaccessible to children and adults with disabilities, especially for those having mobility impairments, wheelchair users etc.

Are these parks meant only for those few men who sit in RWAs as office bearers?  How many women or children are part of RWAs? Under UN Convention on Rights of children, the Children of the colony should be consulted in matters affecting their rights especially right to play in the neighbourhood park.

The MCD could suggest some ground rules for formation of registered RWAs which could be given such funding. These ground rules could include: Compulsory inclusion of women to 30% (10% housewifes, 10% working and 10% elderly) and compulsory inclusion of Children to another 30% (of both sexes in 15% each) and remaining 40% with men (both elderly those below 60). The functioning of these RWAs needs to be more transparent and democratic.

Also the ground rules should include that these parks should be kept accessible and barrier free for use by physically disabled residents, children and the elderly.

Then only the interest of all could be served otherwise few men would continue to rule the parks in their interest without bothering about children, women and those with disabilities.


S.C. Vashishth
Human Rights Advocate

To read from source click here: Civic agency ropes in residents to maintain parks

Government alone cannot provide effective civic services without residents' participation

Published on 01/13/2010 - 07:44:32 AM New Delhi: The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Tuesday launched a scheme to encourage residents to maintain public parks in their areas.

As part of this public-private partnership, cheques totalling Rs 4,72,817 were distributed to 17 resident welfare associations (RWAs) and two NGOs for the maintenance of 132 public parks under the MCD's purview.

Under the scheme -- aimed at promoting greenery and the involvement of RWAs and NGOs in taking care of parks -- the RWAs will be given Rs 6,000 per acre per month for employing maintenance staff and gardeners.

A MCD official said to IANS the government alone cannot provide effective civic services without residents' participation.

"The MCD may organise a competition of RWAs and award one which displays outstanding performance," the official said.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Right to Education Act and Children with Disabilities

Dear Friends,

Now the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India has indicated that what best they can do to include Children with Disabilities in the RTE Act  2009 is by including them under the Definition of "Disadvantaged Children". And that is their bit.

Any thing further is not their cup of tea and Ministry of Social Justice should do something to amend the Persons with disabilities Act. There can not be any thing worse than this. The fact is that the children with disabilities are no one's babies when it comes to inclusion and equal rights.

Isn't it simple that Ministry of HRD being the nodal ministry for Education  should also deal with education of children with disability? I fail to understand as to how education of children with disabilities becomes a welfare issue? This needs to stop right now and the RTE bill needs to be amended conclusively to provide for all support, special educators, therapists,  reasonable accommodation and inclusive schools based on universal design. Nothing less than that is going to be acceptable to us!

There is good news that Delhi Government is changing the Recruitment Rules of the Teachers to include Recruitment Rules for Special Educators and related matters after the recent Delhi High Court judgement in Social Jurists PIL. However, the situation in other states is pathetic and grave.

The Education for All "सर्व शिक्षा अभियान" has actually failed to cater to the needs of children with disabilities in an inclusive set up. It is impossible to include children in the mainstream without proper preparation of teachers, infrastructure and support systems. Also only appointment of two Special Educators per school in the National Capital Territory Region will not serve the larger needs and the states have to take proactive measures to address the issue. Till today, there is no talk of developmental therapists, speech therapists, mobility trainers and other rehabilitation professional being included as a part of mainstream schools which are otherwise a necessary part of Special schools run by NGOs.

The First Country Report on action taken by Indian Government on UNCRPD is due in May 2010. The Union Government has sought reports from States as what actions they have taken in these areas and I received a frantic call from one leading State NGO from one of the states asking that the State Welfare department is asking about UNCRPD and what is that Government is required to do in light of this. I was taken aback but this is sadly the truth! Many departments in state governments are not even aware or have taken no pains to even open the convention document that Union Government might have sent to them.

In such situation, there is an urgent and calling need for the NGOs and the DPOs to act as monitors and get the systems working. On its own, nothing would happen and we need to show the road to the implementing agencies and the Governments. Its our cause and we can't wait for it to happen on its own, at the whims and fancies of State. The Persons with Disabilities Act is a live testimony to this which has not been fully implemented even after nearly one and a half decade of its being passed by the Parliament of India.

I see a new role for the NGOs - that of  "Facilitators of Change" and "Advocacy Organisations" and "Resource Centres" to guide the Government rather than merely restricting themselves to the role of a Service Provider.

Its when you get engaged in Providing Service, you have no time or energy left to act as Resource Centre or advocacy organisation and also you keep chasing the grant applications to the Government to run the schools and other services. And that is what precisely the Government want you to remain engaged in!

We have to understand that education of children with disability is a fundamental right of the children which the Government is bound to provide for in terms of  systems, infrastructure and finance. Thus there is no point in NGOs seeking grants which are often very subjective and do not cover even the 50% of the expenses if rightfully done. I had taken up few cases for NGOs where the workers of the NGOs went against their employers in the Labour Courts seeking minimum wages and what I learnt from NGOs was that the grant that comes for a helper is merely 2000 Rupees which is far less than the minimum wage of an unskilled worker in Delhi. The matters are pending in High Court where Grant making Ministries have been impleaded as necessary parties for proper adjudication of the case! And I am well aware what is going to be the outcome of such petition!

Therefore it is the right time for NGOs to redcue their role as Service Provider and gradually move towards their new and calling role as Resource Centres, Research bodies and be a part of Advocacy and Monitoring mechanism to ensure that the rights of persons with disability to live with dignity in society on an equal basis with others are realised to its full and rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are progressively realised.

Another worrying issue that we should be concerned with too is the second amendment which HRD ministry is contemplating to bring in RTE Act to satisfy the powerful lobby of minority institutions who do not want to be governed by State Laws at the same time want to continue receiving grants/aids from the Government. These schools if exempted from constituting School Management Committees (which is a powerful tool to increase citizen's participation in the school management and check misuse of public funds) they could do what they like without any external check including refusal to take in children with disabilities. The move should be resisted by one and all to ensure participation of civil society and stakeholders in the process of education and maintain transparency in the delivery of quality education to all including children with disabilities.
Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Advocate-Disability Rigths,, 9811125521

To read the press coverage on RTE click here

RTE Act to cover kids with disabilities

NEW DELHI: Children with physical, learning and speech disabilities would now be put under the disadvantaged category in the Right to Education Act.

The Cabinet will soon take up HRD ministry's cabinet note seeking amendment in the RTE Act. Another amendment seeks to exempt schools run by minority organisations from setting up School Management Committees.

However, the amendment bill will be introduced only in the budget session of Parliament.

In the last session of Parliament, when the RTE Bill was passed, disabled rights groups had protested against non-inclusion of disabled children in the disadvantaged category. Disability will be further explained to include disabilities mentioned in the People with Disabilities Act and National Trust Act. But since PWD Act does not include cerebral palsy, autism and multiple disability, RTE amendment bill will specifically mention disabilities like dyslexia, aphasia and learning and speech disabilities.

Sources, however, said amending RTE to include disabilities is not enough. "Social justice ministry should move a comprehensive amendment bill to amend PWD Act. HRD ministry has done its bit," a source said.

The second amendment states that schools run by minority bodies will be exempted from setting up School Management Committees. The proposed amendment, sources said, will exclude schools managed by minority organisations from constituting School Management Committees. Right now, only unaided schools not receiving any kind of aid or grant from the government or local authorities are excluded from setting up school management committees (SMCs).

The amendment comes in the wake of demand from many states and minority-run institutions that they be exempted from setting up SMCs because it contravenes Article 30 of the Constitution that gives minorities right to establish and administer educational institutions. The amendment will be carried out in sub-clauses of clause (n) of Section 2 of the Act as well as in section 21 of the Act. It will specifically mention that minority-run institutions need not have SMCs. In the RTE Act, SMCs have a big role to play in the running of schools. Half the members of the committee will be women.