Showing posts with label Persons with Disabilities Act. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Persons with Disabilities Act. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

MCD will create 1790 posts of Special Educator under Right to Education Act

PTIMar 19, 2011, 

NEW DELHI: In keeping with the provisions of the Right to Education Act, the MCD has decided to create 1,790 posts of special teachers for children with disabilities in schools run and aided by the civic agency.
A meeting of the MCD Standing Committee approved a proposal in this regard this week.
The creation of the posts is also in consonance with a Delhi high court order of 2008 that said at least two such teachers should be provided in each school along with necessary teaching aids and reading material.
Officials said the Education Department has, however, proposed to create one post of "special educator" in each primary school. It is in process to place a request to the High Court for consideration, they said.
"The proposal for creation of 1,790 posts of special educators -- one each for schools run and aided by the MCD -- was prepared in compliance with the direction of the court and the provisions of RTE," an official said.
The total financial implication of the project will be Rs 53.70 crore per annum and it is expected to be met put of Plan funds to be provided by Delhi government. "There is a provision of financing such expenditure under RTE. According to it, 65 per cent of the expenditure will be borne by the Union government and the remaining by the state," he said.
The Right to Education Act provides that a child suffering from disability shall have the right to pursue free and compulsory elementary education.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The World "Handicapped" is banned in Haryana

Dear Colleagues,

In the recent past Govt. of Haryana  initiated a network of social infrastructure in every district that includes old age homes, special accessible school infrastructure for four major disabilities to include persons with disabilities in the mainstream. Several quarters who advocated inclusion in all spheres of life including education etc were quite critical of this step while the State Government's decision was more in line with providing better infrastructure in specialized and state of the art institutions which could become pivotal institutions to empower the disabled people to inclusion. In addition to this, other educational institutions are also being made inclusive.

Now in yet another positive step towards a rights based and inclusive society where marginalized segments are accorded full respect and dignity, it has come out with an official announcement banning the usage of the word "Handicapped" in the State since it violated and undermined the dignity of persons with disabilities. Not only  that, it went on to even discourage the world "differently abled" since this focuses on differential dimension hence not inclusive. This is a very positive step and the officials responsible for this remarkable step must be congratulated. 

The larger issue is now to implement this and I am sure State had already done its bit to a good extent by highlighting this in the media and through various means so that the state machinery at all levels understand the "persons first approach" or People-First Language.

As per Wiktionary the word  "Handicap" means-  An allowance of a certain amount of time or distance in starting, granted in a race (or other contest of skill) to the competitor possessing disadvantages; or an additional weight or other hindrance imposed upon the one possessing advantages, in order to equalize, as much as possible, the chances of success.  Eg. 

  • The older boy won, even though his opponent had been granted a handicap of five meters.
  • A handicap in chess often involves removal of the queen's rook.
It also means a race, for horses or men, or any contest of agility, strength, or skill, in which there is an allowance of time, distance, weight, or other advantage, to equalize the chances of the competitors.

Thus,  person may have a disability  and not handicaps and it is derogatory to refer to an individual with the a noun "handicapped".  This announcement is in line with Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is reproduced below:

Article 8 - Awareness-raising
1. States Parties undertake to adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures:
  1. To raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities;
  2. To combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life;
  3. To promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.
Measures to this end include:
  1. Initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns designed:
    1. To nurture receptiveness to the rights of persons with disabilities;
    2. To promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards persons with disabilities;
    3. To promote recognition of the skills, merits and abilities of persons with disabilities, and of their contributions to the workplace and the labour market;
  2. Fostering at all levels of the education system, including in all children from an early age, an attitude of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities;
  3. Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention;
  4. Promoting awareness-training programmes regarding persons with disabilities and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Here is the news coverage of the announcement in Indian Express:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 

Chandigarh: Haryana government has banned the use of expression 'handicapped' saying it violates and undermines the dignity of persons with disability. 

An official spokesman said the expression 'handicapped' was against the spirit of the Constitution, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India was also a state party. 

He said the use of such other expressions as 'differently abled' would also be discouraged as such an expression harps more on the differentiality dimension whereas there was a need to promote equality dimension. 

Wherever such description was both necessary and relevant, such persons would be described as persons with disability or as persons with blindness, persons with speech and hearing impairment or persons with locomotor disability. 

He said national institutes like National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and National Institute for Hearing Handicapped should also be renamed appropriately. 


Friday, March 16, 2012

Persons with Disabilities do not want special coaches

Dear Colleagues,

We all have been witness to the vulnerability of travelers with disabilities in secluded Railways Coaches for the Disabled as well as the chaos and disorderliness in these coaches. I had myself been witness to few such incidents. Thus we feel, it would not be in the fitness of things to continue pushing for special coaches for the disabled; we have heard attendants being pushed out saying that they are non-disabled and hence should travel in other compartments; we have seen highhandedness of Railway Protection Force officials, Police and paramilitary officials forcefully gaining entry in to special coaches for the disabled and even pushing non-disabled passengers in the special coaches after charging some amount!

In absence of strict monitoring mechanisms, rail coaches meant for 
disabled are often misused by non-disabled passengers. 
Copyrighted Picture @SCVashishth
We have also heard incidents of visually impaired passengers being allotted special coach, who otherwise can travel in any of the general coaches! On top of it, the coach being touted as "Coach for the Disabled" has no provision of ramp or level entry hence is literally inaccessible.

The Persons with Disabilities Act mandates making the railways barrier free and not creating secluded special coaches. The objective is to mainstream rather than excluding them.  Therefore, if persons with disabilities of this country are rejecting this announcement, it should be respected. 

The announcement by Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Wednesday on provision of special coaches for the differently abled people has not found favour with a section of them.
Persons with Disabilities are opposing creation of special coaches for the disabled in the Indian Railways since they feel more vulnerable and threatened in these secluded coaches.
The special coach for disabled is a joke played on 70 millions disabled 
people of India! The coach is neither accessible nor safe for people
 and is often added either close to Engine or at the tail of train!
Copyrighted Picture @SCVashishth

“We expect the government to have a universal design for coaches, which would be accessible for all with furnished washrooms, considering the needs of the differently abled people,” said Sminu Jindal, managing director of Jindal Saw and the chairperson of Svayam, a charitable trust for differently abled people. Ms. Jindal is herself a differently abled person.


“We have been working hard to provide equality and dignity to all, including the elderly and the disabled, and this step goes in the opposite direction discriminating the disabled from the rest. This renders the community more vulnerable, as it does not allow [their] joining the mainstream and restricts them from travelling on general coaches,” she said.
Further, the plan to build escalators would not help the differently abled, she said and requested the Minister to provide for ramps and elevators which would help everyone.

“The announcement on introduction of special coaches for disabled friendly is not a welcome step. We expect the government to have a universal design/coaches which would be accessible for all with furnished accessible washrooms, considering the needs for differently abled people... This step goes in the opposite direction which discriminates the disabled from the rest. This is more vulnerable for the community, as it does not allow mainstreaming and restricts disabled from travelling on general coaches,” said chairperson Sminu Jindal, Svayam, an initiative of Sminu Jindal Charitable Trust.

“Announcement of building escalators, will not come in aid of differently-abled people. We would request the minister to alongside build ramps and elevators which would help all,” she said.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thalassaemic finally gets job he was denied

Dear Friends,

I am surprised as to why each time the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has to intervene and take a credit to give the persons living with disabling conditions their basic dues such a government job at their own merit?

Why can't we have ministries and babus using their brains to implement laws and rules themselves and stop discriminating on the grounds of disabilities. This is ridiculous that for each right, a person with disability in India has to face discrimination and then he is forced to knock the doors of judiciary or some political leader. Are they doing a favour to persons with disabilities by agreeing to give them a job which the person has otherwise earned through his own merit?

So much so, that many government departments have started illegally adjusting those persons with disabilities in the disability quota seats who have passed the recruitment exams on their own in general merit. This amounts to reducing the persons with disabilities to maximum 3% rather than minimum 3% reserved seats as mandated by the Act of 1995! Is the Government listening?

Thalassaemic finally gets job he was denied

By Vikas Kahol in Chandigarh

AFTER over a year of blood, sweat and tears, Sukhsohit Singh’s efforts have borne fruit. The first thalassaemic in the country to clear the civil services examination but declared unfit because of the rare genetic disorder, he is finally set to be inducted into the Indian Defence Accounts Services ( Group A).

An observation by the medical board at Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi had jeopardised Sukhsohit’s career. The board had declared him “ unfit for all services” as he suffers from thalassaemia major. M AIL T ODAY highlighted the issue in its June 13 issue under the headline ‘ Thalassaemic man denied a job that was rightfully his’. On Friday, a beaming Sukhsohit stated that he received an official communication from the department of personnel and training ( DoPT) informing him about the assignment. The formal offer of appointment would be sent by the defence ministry, the cadre- controlling authority. The DoPT has also requested the ministry to allow Sukhsohit to join by September 13 and exempt him from attending the foundation course.

“I am happy that my dream is fulfilled. I am also thankful to the government authorities, including the Prime Minister who intervened to help me bag the civil servant’s job. The media’s effort, too, was commendable as it made out a strong case for me,” he said.

Sukhsohit had listed three preferences: The Indian Defence Accounts Services, Indian Railway Accounts Services and Indian Railway Personnel Services. All the three come under Group A civil services. “ I had deliberately opted for non- police services that were commensurate with my rank.

Sukhsohit, who lives in Panchkula near Chandigarh, was diagnosed with thalassaemia major in 1985 when he was only one and a half years old. The doctors advised his parents — his father Wing Commander ( retired) M. S. Bawa and mother Gursharan Kaur — to take good care of their son and assured them that he would be able to lead a “ normal” life. Regular medication and blood transfusions were their prescriptions for his good health.

Sukhsohit braved the disease for about 25 years and did not face any mental or physical disorder. Not only was he regular at school, his attendance was exceptionally high. He topped in the 10+ 2 examination in the Chandigarh region Kendriya Vidyalayas. After completing B Com ( Hons) in Business Economics from Panjab University, he secured the first rank in the income tax examination.

His disease did not deter him from securing the first position in MA in public administration, and he qualified for the UGC’s junior research fellowship ( JRF). Currently, Sukhsohit is pursuing PhD in public administration.

He said clearing the civil services exam had been his sole dream and he opted for non- technical services.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visually Impaired continue to face discrimination in Civil Services

Dear Friends,

Despite the PM's intervention in ensuring that the Civil Services opened their doors to the persons with disability especially those with visual disability, the silent discrimination continues. The case of Rajesh is a live testimony to this discrimination. And this is despite Supreme Court's order in the favour of the candidate directing DoPT to appoint him in Civil Services!

It is the same DOPT which continued to take examination in Braille  and giving the VH scribes to write UPSC examination without making an effort to identify any posts for them when they were pulled up by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India.

We all know, how difficult it is to clear the interview where, many times such insensitive people sit across you who know nothing about disability etiquettes throwing queries questioning your abilities on the basis of perceived disability! And then the apathy and bias attitude of  the DoPT.

This needs to change forthwith if India is to ensure true equality to its citizen with disabilities. Stern action should be taken against the erring officers to set examples that the policies and Act are not defied right under the nose of the Union Government.

Read here the revelation brought out by Bhuvan Bagga for Mail Today.

Click here to view the news from Mail Today in image form 

Babus blind to his merit (Mail Today)

By Bhuvan Bagga in New Delhi

Visually impaired man not given posting even 3 yrs after clearing civil services 

RAJESH Kumar Singh had a dream that soured — one, because he is visually impaired and two, because he is not well connected. This 25- year- old had cracked the prestigious civil services examination three years ago while he was still doing his masters in modern Indian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

But what happened next broke his spirit. Despite bagging the third rank in the disabled category, the department of personnel and training ( DoPT) refused to give Singh a posting.

“I don’t know when I will get my chance. Now it seems the examination was easier to handle, but not this inherent bias in the system against people with special needs like us,” says Rajesh.

Disheartened, he approached the Supreme Court and after a prolonged legal battle, the court decided in his favour. But another shocker for him was on the way.

A candidate, who was ranked below him in the same category, received a posting while he was still waiting for a response after the court order. Allegedly, it so happened that the favoured candidate was related to a DoPT official.

He knocked at the Supreme Court’s doors for the second time on October 21 this year. The court once again issued notices to the government asking why he wasn’t given a posting despite its order and how a person with a lower rank got in.

“The system is entirely pitted against us. No one thinks we deserve, merit or should be a part of the bureaucracy. Even in my interview, a panelist asked me why I deserved to be in the service when I couldn’t even read or write as he did,” he said.

At that time Rajesh had politely shot back asking the interviewer “ if he could read or write like him, would he consider himself ineligible?” Incidentally, Rajesh is also an international cricketer who represented India in three world cups for the visually impaired. “ Two of these were in India and one in Pakistan. I am not just a meritorious candidate, but also a sportsperson,” he says.

However, he has received support from activists and political leaders who have written to the Prime Minister. MAIL TODAY has the copies of these letters in its possession. The letters name the senior DOPT officer and mention that Rajesh was ignored and a person with a lower rank was favoured.

Dr Naresh Kumar, a sociologist and general secretary of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee said, “ I have written a letter to the PM and asked for the removal of such officers who think themselves to be above the Supreme Court. I want to know how Ravi Prakash Singh, with a rank of 6, got into the IAS service while Rajesh is outside.” Rajesh is from Patna and had done his bachelors in history from Ramjas College. His father is a civil judge in Bihar. Two of his brothers are engineers and his sister is a doctor.

“There are times when even our families and closest persons can’t understand us. I have my fingers crossed and am hopeful that the law of the land gives me what I have earned. I don’t need sympathies, just give me what I worked so hard for,” Rajesh said.

Indian Army takes lead in respecting abilities of the Disabled

Dear Friends,

I am particularly happy at this news of Indian Army promoting a wheelchair user officer to the 2 Star rank.

Indian Army has set example for other paramilitary forces to reward their brave ones by promoting them even when faced with disability at physical level and not simply boarding them out medically. This is a befitting treatment to the contribution of the soldier as well as to the residual ability of the soldier after experiencing such disability. I remember Maj Gen. Ian Cardozo's words, "Disability is not in the body but in the minds of persons" (how one looks at it). He cites his own example that despite being an amputee, he proved himself & continued to command a battallian and risen to the rank of Maj. General. Today he heads RCI as its Chairperson.

Thousands of soldiers are boarded out medically every year from Defence Forces on acquiring disability attributable to service. And their opportunity to contribute to the nation are taken away by Medical Boards. 

Can Indian Defence Forces look at Section 47 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act at policy level and take a firm resolve that they will respect the sacrifices of their war wounded soldiers by giving them opportunities in service?. If I am game for it, I can create a number of opportunities for them in administration, logistics and several other areas that involve ground duties. This will be a trend setting step on the part of Defence Forces to respect the human diversity and abilities.

We know, currently all defence establishment are exempted from the purview of PWD Act 1995 !

To read the news click on the links below:

1st wheelchair-bound officer promoted as Major General
New Delhi, Oct 27, (PTI):

History was created in the Indian Army today when a wheelchair-bound officer was promoted to the rank of a Major General.

Belonging to the elite Parachute regiment, Maj Gen S K Razdan picked up his two-star rank today and is posted at the Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff, Army officials said here.

The 52-year-old Para Commando was left paralysed below his waist after a spinal injury 15 years ago during a gunfight in Kashmir, an effort which had won him a Kirti Chakra, the country's second highest peace-time gallantry award.

In a daring effort in 1995, Razdan had taken on terrorists and saved the lives of 14 women in a 16-hour operation in Damal Kunzipur on October 8, which also happens to be his birthday.

The officer was shifted to the Army's Base Hospital in the national capital, where he was treated for his injuries. The Army has in the past promoted amputee officers to General-officer rank, but this would be the first time a wheelchair-bound officer has become a Major General, the officers added.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An unending struggle for the disabled: Experiences of Ms. Shalini Sethi

Dear Friends,

Today, I am sharing with you a write up by Ms. Shalini Sethi who initially named it "Plight of the Disabled", however, I have suggested the name "An unending struggle of the disabled- Experiences of Ms. Shalini Sethi. 

Article raises few very crucial points on the existing status of the employment scenario for the disabled,  administration of justice as well as work conditions that prevails for persons with disabilities especially for women. I am thankful to Ms. Sethi for sharing this article and agreeing for wider circulation and publishing it here on this blog. 

Here is the article:

An unending struggle of the disabled: Experiences of Ms. Shalini Sethi, Delhi -a promising human resource with disability.

Hon’ble Prime Minister, addressing a conference of state ministers of welfare and social justice on 7th September, 2009, expressed his displeasure at the progress of the ambitious Public-Private Partnership Scheme to generate employment for the disabled.

2. Ironically, the performance in the Public Sector too has not been any bright. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 came into effect on 1.1.1996. The Act made 3% reservations in identified posts for persons with disabilities in all Government establishments, including bodies substantially funded by the Government, to provide them equal opportunities and also to ensure their full participation. These vacancies were equally allocated to three identified types of disabilities viz.(i) blindness and low vision;(ii) hearing impairment; (iii) locomotor disability or cerebral palsy, but were interchangeable in case of non-availability  of suitable candidates in any of these disabilities. There are indications that the establishments have not been fair. Over the years, unfilled vacancies in one form of disability have not been transferred and filled up by other suitable form, as per the directions given in the Act, to manipulate their overall 3% quota. Rather these vacancies were either carried forward or transferred to the non-reserved category, thereby blatantly depriving the disabled their full share of equal opportunities. Besides, the appropriate Governments are given the authority of exemption, taking away large chunk of vacancies out of their reach, making 3% reservation nothing but farce.

3. I was born with multiple congenital deformities, affecting my upper and lower limbs. I am thankful to my parents and the Doctors, who helped me to stand on my feet. I had to bear incessant body pains and had to undergo continuous medical treatment, all through my school and college days, which affected my grades. I passed B.Com. Examination from Delhi University, in 1991 and obtained Diploma in System Management from NIIT in 1993. The struggle only strengthened my determination. I did several private jobs, during which I acquired experience in communication skills, customer relations, customer care and management as centre head, but was constrained to travel long distances and the jobs I got were not stable. I applied for disability certificate, quite late in my life at the age of 35 yrs., expecting that this might help me in getting suitable job in Government organization. This certificate first issued to me on 20.5.2006, took almost one year, facing lot of hassles, finally assessing me with permanent disability of 48%. Thereafter, I started trying for a job in government establishments but my experience here too has been frustrating.

4. In November, 2006 the Income Tax, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance; Government of India invited applications to train 5000 graduates to become Tax Return Preparers (TRPs). Constrained by my mobility problems, this scheme offered a good opportunity for me. I fulfilled the required qualifications but needed slight relaxation in age.  The scheme was entirely funded by the Government, including the cost of training, arranged through NIIT; also providing these TRPs their logistic support, thereby fulfilling all the parameters of the Act, but not providing relaxation and consideration for persons with disabilities. The matter was timely brought to the notice of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, who is supposed to protect the interest of persons with disabilities, but he failed to take timely action. The plea was rejected on the ground that the Act made no specific provisions for such self-employment schemes. Sadly, this happened at a time, when the then Hon’ble Finance Minister announced the ambitious scheme of Public-Private Partnership to generate more opportunities for persons with disabilities, while his own Department was blocking even their legitimate opportunities. It is unfortunate that the respondent department did not present the correct picture of this scheme before the Court of the Chief Commissioner, claiming that was only to facilitate training of these TRPs and that they were not under any contract with the Government or with any other person or organization to function as TRPs, either for the purpose of employment or otherwise, while the fact as on date is these TRPs may not be the direct employees of the Government, the Department is still actively supporting them, spending Government money on advertising their services through its website or otherwise, maintaining a Resource Center for them, retraining them in filing returns in other taxation matters, arranging concessional finance through public sector Banks etc. Respondents committed before the said Court that it proposed to conduct more of such training programmes, but has not come out with any such program, after their first selection nor the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment seem to have considered it appropriate to facilitate reservation and relaxations to persons with disabilities in such self-employment and development of entrepreneurship skills for them.     

 5. Around this time SBI, PNB also made massive recruitments of clerks. I could not apply for these jobs because I slightly fell short of their percentage of marks requirements. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, in recent times, too has made lot of recruitments but it seems that it is yet to find any suitable posts for persons with disabilities. Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Subordinate Selection Board, Employees State Insurance Corporation, advertised the posts of clerks, requiring compulsory speed in typing, difficult for persons with in coordination of muscles in hands. The Income Tax Department advertised the post of Tax Assistants, requiring high level of data entry speed. LIC Housing Finance Corporation, promoted by LIC, a Government sponsored body, advertised the post of customer care executives but did not make any relaxation, claiming to be a non-government body.  I was well qualified for these posts but could not apply because I could not meet their requirements, without the legitimate relaxations. I also registered with the Special Employment Exchange set up by the Government to help persons with disabilities to find a suitable job, but in 4-5 years I am yet to receive any call. I lost these opportunities because  the Government departments, the public sector Banks and institutions do not honestly, sincerely and seriously follow the Persons with Disabilities Act and the extant instructions, guidelines and directions, as contained in  the Department of Personnel & Training  OM dated 29.12.2005.

6. I finally got a job with the IDBI Bank, through an all India test conducted by the Bank. This job of an Executive, though initially on contract, on year to year basis, was to lead to final absorption in the service of the Bank as Assistant Managers over the period of 4 years, through a selection process. I joined this Bank on 26.11.2007. Having struggled a lot, this job was a good opportunity for me. I worked really very hard and was performing very well. However, then came a new Branch Head, who joined my branch in July, 2008 started harassing me for no reason, even teasing me on my disability perhaps due to ignorance or due to his attitude towards disability. I bore his indignities for over 3 months hoping that he also will go one day and some new Head will replace him. However, finding no respite, I was compelled to complain against his misbehavior to the Head, HRD on 21.11.2008. Four days later, on 25.11.2008, when I was about to leave the Bank, after day’s work, I was served a fax message that the Bank has not renewed my first year contract, expiring on the same date by efflux of time. My father wrote to the Head, HRD, on 1.1.2009, reminding him on the complaint, seeking proper justice but received no response. He then lodged a formal complaint, on my behalf, with the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities on 24.2.2009, followed by an e-mail sent to him on 1.3.2009.

7. My experience at the Chief Commissioner’s office was again very frustrating. The Chief Commissioner is bestowed with judicial powers under the PwD Act, to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities, listen to their complaints of harassment and discrimination. However, he  took full 13 months to arrange some sort of hearing. My first complaint made on 24.2.2009 was rejected outright in April 2009, not following the prescribed procedure as laid downs in the Rules framed under the PwD Act, consideration of the complete facts and my personal complaint of harassment, ruling the complaint inappropriate, claiming that the terms and conditions of the contract gave the Bank unconditional discretion not to renew my contract, which was factually incorrect. My father  took up this matter again with the said Chief Commissioner in August, 2009, this time with  relevant data, collected through RTI application, establishing that  the Bank was not honest, sincere and serious in  following the provisions of the PwD Act, extant rules and regulations, instructions, guidelines, directions etc., as  contained in Department of Personnel & Training. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions OM No. 336035/3/2004 Estt.(Res) dated 29.12.2005, and, therefore, discriminating against the persons with disabilities. This time again the Chief Commissioner, still not following the proper procedure, nearly 4 months later, simply forwarded this complaint to the Bank on 7.12.2009, advising the Bank to take action in accordance with the Government OM of DOP&T. Eventually, on third petition of my father on 19.11.2009, the Chief Commissioner issued another order on 2.3.2010, fixing the date of hearing on 22.3.2010.

8. The hearing that followed was conducted in undue hurry, not properly listening to facts, the evidence produced, the arguments that I had to give him a written brief, explaining all facts, data, proofs to counter the submissions made by the respondent, which was followed by an e-mail sent to him immediately thereafter, but he ignored all these submissions. Consequently, the order he issued on 5.4.2010 was not only vague, inconsistent but also not based on evidence and facts, presented before his Court. To him, the Act, the extant instructions, directions etc.  and OM issued by DOP&T, which he earlier advised the Bank to follow, were of no significance. He completely relied on the review report given by the Branch Head, the person I had complained for my harassment. The Deputy Chief Commissioner also did not feel it necessary to call him to depose, ignoring my complaint filed against him, completely. The facts, data, evidence produced before the Deputy Chief Commissioner were quite clear and he could have given me proper justice, rather than forcing me to knock the doors of the High Court.

9. The High Court took notice of my petition in May, 2010 and fixed the date for hearing on August 30, 2010. Hearing was held on due date but fresh date had to be given because the Advocate for the Union of India, Ministry of Social Justice failed to file its reply in time while the Advocate for IDBI Bank informed that he was engaged by the Bank a day before and as such needed time for making preparations and file the reply. It looks that these responsible establishments of the Government were not so mindful of their accountability and the Courts in India a bit lenient. The next date of Hearing is fixed on October 18, 2010. Hopefully this will sail through, but my age does not wait for me. I will be 40 yrs. old, coming December.

The Malady

10. The National Policy for persons with disabilities, declared by the said Ministry, accepts that the persons with disabilities are valuable human resource for the country. It is realized that a majority of persons with disabilities can lead a better quality of life if they have equal opportunities and effective access to rehabilitation measures. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 was passed and came into operation on 7th February, 1996, which makes provisions for their employment, to give them equal opportunities and ensure their full participation etc. This Legislation was made following the Proclamation signed in the Meet of the Economic and Social for Asian and Pacific Region at Beijing in December 1992 to launch the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons 1993-2002. India was one of the signatories of this Proclamation, which, among others, required the signatory countries to spell out the responsibility of the state protection of their rights, remove any discrimination, counteract any abuse and exploitation, equalization of opportunities and make special provision of their integration in the social milieu.

11. It is sad that fifteen years later, persons with disabilities like me, still have to fight for their rights under the Act for equal opportunities and full participation to become part of the mainstream of the society. The Act is a beneficent legislation and has to be perceived by its intent, as enshrined in its preamble and the commitment, the Government made in the above important Meet. It seems that this Act is not being seen in its proper perception and the appropriate governments do not look very keen to implement it in its proper perspective, giving undue discretion which does not seem to have been properly utilized. The administration, the courts, the private employers, the people, all have equal responsibility. The data given in the National Policy, issued by the nodal Ministry, indicate status of reservation of 3.07%, 4.41%, 3.76% and 3.18% in Group A, B, C & D in Government departments, in identified posts in Oct.2006. Similar reservation in PSUs, is given as 2.78%, 8.54%, 5.04% and 6.75%, respectively. This seemingly does not give the realistic picture, because of exemption granted or not granted to the establishments. The point at issue is that there is appropriate provision in the Act, reiterated  by DOP&T OM dated 29.12.2005 issued by the Department of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, for interchangeability transfer of the reserved vacancies for persons with disabilities from one disability to another suitable disability, to maintain the equilibrium of minimum 3%, reservations for them, which most Government establishments do not seem to be following and instead filling up these posts by open quota. The Delhi High Court has even ruled that that this equilibrium should be implemented, considering the total staff strength in the organizations, (though the matter has reached Supreme Court and there is a stay on High Court’s ruling for time being). The High Court has even ruled that the organizations should even work out suitable posts in their establishments to absorb overall 3% persons with disabilities in their organization. It should also be made obligatory for private institutions to make appropriate provision, by giving them incentive or other-wise levying social responsibility tax.

12.  The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the nodal Ministry, among others, for persons with disabilities, admits that it implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all including persons with disabilities. Here it is apt to quote the Ex- Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Shri A.P. Shah, speaking at a National Meet of NGOs on ‘Rejuvenating Partnership’, “Distress and humiliation the persons with disabilities suffer in the country is something that disturbs our conscience of inclusive governance.” He said.  “The country needs to call for a new rights-based approach to ensure social inclusiveness of the disabled.” The Policy admits that the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 came into operation 10 years ago (now 15 years) and that with the experience gained in the implementation of the Act and developments in the disability sector, certain amendments to the Act have become necessary, but it seems that the Ministry of Social Justice is yet to bring out any appropriate amendment proposals.     
13. Apart from reservations for employment in Government establishments, the Act also provide for affirmative action, which include preferential allotment of land at concessional rates for purpose of house, setting up business. The National Policy envisages setting up supporting structure of services by way of vocational rehabilitation centers and vocational training centers. The Policy further states that considering slow pace of growth in employment opportunities in the organized sector, self-employment of persons with disabilities will be promoted. This will be done through vocational education and management training. Further, the existing system of providing loans at softer terms from the NHFDC will be improved to make it easily accessible with transparent and efficient procedures of processing. The Government will also encourage self-employment by providing incentives, tax concessions, exemptions from duties, preferential treatment for procurement of goods and services by the Government from the enterprises of persons with disabilities, etc. Priority in financial support will be given to Self Help Groups formed by the persons with disabilities. It seems that these policies have existed since the inception of the Act. It has to be seen how far these have benefitted the persons with disabilities. There seem to be no transparency in these schemes. There seems to be hardly any control of the policy implementation authorities on conditions applied. For instance the standard permanent disability of 40% required for eligibility of various concessions but for the dealership etc .the Oil companies demand 40% permanent/partial disability of either upper or lower limbs or 50% permanent/ partial  disability of both upper and lower limb together. The candidate’s income, also including the income of his parents, if he is a dependent should not be more than Rs.50000 per annum. The scheme further states that the company will provide the selected candidates in SC/ST working capital for dealership but no such provision has been made for PH category, expected to arrange the required finance with meager income of Rs.50000. There must be some agency of the Government to watch the rationality of such schemes.

14. The Act commits that appropriate Government and local authorities shall by notification frame schemes in favor of persons with disabilities, for the preferential allotment of land at concessional rates for houses, setting up business etc.  DDA, in the year 2008, allotted flats, which gave only 1% reservation for persons with disabilities, as against 3% such reservation made in other states. It allowed 5% rebate in the cost subject to maximum of Rs. 1.00 lac, on the condition that such flat shall not be alienated for 15 yrs. As these flats were to be handed over on free hold basis, the DDA was not able to clarify how they were going to enforce this clause. There were no such conditions put for any other categories of reservation, which saw a scam that engaged the Government, its economic offence wing and the media for long but still does not seem to have been completely resolved.

15. There are many other issues like the issue of disability certificate, social security measures, which are not transparent and need to be looked into. Selected Government Hospitals, only authorized to issue disability certificates, are too crowded, not properly able to give appropriate attention to persons claiming disability certificates, with large number of other out patients; the doctors do not seem properly trained and sensitized; the authorities are not clear of the criteria and procedures; there is no accountability, which lead to avoidable delays. With the standards of disability fixed, modern tools available to assess the extent of disability, its period etc. it should not be so difficult task as is made out to be. It seems that the revised guidelines issued under DOP&T OM dated 29. 12 2005, rather than easing the certificate has made it more complicated, creating many more classes of disability.

 16. The Income Tax gives relief to the families, deduction of Rs.10000 from their taxable income, to the families not because they have to bring up and support their family members with disabilities for life but for medical facilities.  The pension rules of the Government allow nomination of dependent unmarried daughters above the age of 25 years at par with  widowed/divorced daughters for family pension but in case of  unmarried disable daughter, she has to be crippled and certified by the approved medical authority that she carries a disability that make her incapable of earning her own living. I think the  Government should be aware that it is the families largely who have to take care of their children with disabilities with the Government despite it may be their intention unable to do much. I think that these experiences related to the plight of disable will be taken into consideration, if ever Government thinks of amending the Act to fulfill its intent.   

17. The National Policy envisage that Chief Commissioner for persons with disabilities at the centre and State Commissioner in states will play key role in the implementation of the Policy, apart from their statutory duties.  As per Sec. 63(1) of the Act, the Chief Commissioner for discharging their function under the Act, have the same powers as vested in a court under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit in matters like summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses; requiring discovery and production of documents; requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office; receiving evidence on affidavits; and issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents. Its proceedings are judicial, within the meaning of Sec.193 and 228 in the the Indian Penal Code. It is deemed as Civil Court for the purpose of Section 195 and Chapter XXXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. My experience with the Chief Commissioner,   as narrated in foregoing paragraphs show inadequacy of this office.  If they have to play a key role these offices need to be adequately strengthened, given appropriate authority, manned with committed and competent officers, made accountable for their jobs.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Can the Private Schools really become Disabled friendly without Government Support ?

Dear Friends,

I am surprised at the recent move of Directorate of Education, Delhi directing the private schools to make their school buildings accessible- though without any time frame. It is surely to pass the buck emanating from not only the recent Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act but also the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 by which they are bound.

In the present scenario, making all existing private schools in Delhi accessible is next to impossible by such directives alone. Has the department of education bothered to go and check the limitations under which the private schools function? These shops came up only because the Education Department failed its mandate. It did not provide quality education and hence the parents, including those of children with disabilities looked at private options. Private options, however, charitable they may be, will be restricted by the funds and infrastructure. Now whether it is private mainstream schools or private special schools, money is an important motive, more so for the former kind of schools if not for NGO run (not for profit) special schools.

These schools run in small plots of lands in narrow lanes with hardly any space for play grounds or field work or for other school activities. Most often, these schools are multi-floor with space & economic constraints to make a ramp or construct a lift. Since profit is the one of the chief considerations besides social service in these private schools, every penny invested in retrofitting must give them some benefit else it is a burden on them. You can't expect them to do things in charity for 3% of population for they are not governed by the social justice mandate. When the Government who are governed by the social justice mandate fails to provide accessible and disabled friendly school infrastructure with quality education, how can we expect the same from the small private initiatives to do that extra bit from their pockets?

This precisely means, unless Education department comes up with some financial & Technical support to make the infrastructure accessible, majority of private schools cannot implement their directive. This is a fact which even the department knows. That is why this lip service has been done by merely issuing a directive without doing proper feasibility study before planning. The best answer to this would be creation of a fund by which schools are supported both financially and technically to ensure that the schools are friendlier to children with diversity.

Therefore, the right approach should be that either Education department gives the required support to the schools that do not have sufficient means to implement the access mandate or withdraws such a directive which cannot be implemented in most of the private schools. Passing the buck will not ensure the rights of free & compulsory education for children with disabilities in private schools but will only add to the list of defaulters. 

Its better the Directorate of Education rectifies the biggest mistake of their planning if they really want to ensure every school accessible; else this will remain a utopia - both for them as well as to the children with disabilities intending to study in these private schools.

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Delhi schools told to make premises more disabled-friendly, activists unimpressed
(Click here to read the news from source

Fri, Aug 13 06:00 AM
If all goes according to plan and Delhi schools pay heed to orders of the Directorate of Education (DoE), schools across the Capital may soon be disabled friendly.

The DoE has directed all recognised unaided schools to remove all architectural barriers that pose a hindrance to movement of the disabled from the school premises. It, however, has not set a timeframe or deadline, raising concerns that this is "just another cosmetic measure".

The directive to schools comes in the wake of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act which has provisions for the children with disabilities. The DoE has asked schools to remove any architectural barriers "to facilitate the movement of disabled (students or staff) persons".

"This was necessary under the provisions of the Persons with Disability Act, 1995," said an Education department official.

The department has also asked the schools to make provisions for ramps and modified toilets in their school premises. It has, in fact, written to all Deputy Directors of Education (DDEs) that "these two points may be included in the pro forma for seeking recognition from the department and also in the pro forma of inspection of schools".

Javed Abidi, Director National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), said, "I know they have issued a directive to schools. Of course it is too little, too late. But the question is 'are they serious?'"

For affiliation to the Central Board of School Education (CBSE), one of the prerequisites is that the school should be disabled friendly.

But Abidi points out, "They should have given a reasonable timeframe to schools so that they can build ramps or modify toilets. This is all cosmetic. They should tell schools that they would be derecognised if they don't fall in line. I urge them to crack the whip." He says the Supreme Court is monitoring these cases.

Other experts too, were sceptical. Ashok Agarwal, lawyer and activist with Social Jurist, said, "This is just a PR activity. They are not serious." D K Bedi, principal of Apeejay School, Pitampura, said, "This is a welcome step."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A focal point in the PMO can facilitate early implementation of UNCRPD

Dear friends,

The demand and mandate for creating focal points for monitoring of implementation of Disabilities Act & UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities in India is growing bigger & louder. The activists are demanding two or more focal points within in the Government and outside the Government.

One such focal point can be a National Advisor to the Prime Minister within the PMO. Article 33 of UNCRPD mandates that the  States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention (read UN CRPD).

The UNCRPD also mandates that the Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, should be involved and should participate fully in the monitoring process.

The existing Central Coordination Committee (CCC) (proposed to be renamed as Central Advisory Committee in the amendments suggested by MSJ&E in the PWD Act 1995) should remain the second focal point to facilitate implementation of the convention and disablity related laws, rules and regulation in the country.  However, this body needs to be strengthened and made accountable to people. This would be possible by prominent involvement of civil society and persons with disability in general on such bodies.

The statement of former CJ of Delhi High Court is very relevant and echoes the sentiments of the disability sector. The disability sector has been a witness to myriad of problems of in-coordination among various ministries on the issues related to disabilities which has resulted in growing discomfort in the citizens with disability in India.

SC Vashishth, Advocate

To read the news from source, click on the news title here: 'We need a national advisor to PM on disability'

In order to ensure the rights of people with disabilities, there is a need for a national advisor on the subject to the prime minister, former chief justice of the Delhi High Court Ajit Prakash Shah said Thursday.

'There is a need for a national advisor on disability to the prime minister, as it will help in bridging the gap between policies and ground realities,' Shah said at the inauguration of a two-day meet on the disability sector in the capital.

'This step will also help India fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) of which it is a signatory,' he added.

The CRPD requires its signatories to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by people with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.

According to government estimates, there are approximately 20-30 million disabled people in India. However, NGOs estimate the numbers are around 60-70 million.

In contrast to the population, NGOs like the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) say that only a handful of them are educated and employed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We need indepent commissioners for Disability and a minimum wage social security

Dear Friends,

I second the demand of United Voices for Disability Equality in Odisha with little additions.

What we require is an Independent Commissioner for disabilities, with a rank equal to secretary & be preferably from the disability sector! Also the amount of social secruity has to match with minimum wages for skilled workers looking at cost of living index in each state. The charity doles of 500, 700, 1500 do not help the person with disability live an independent life. We need to say clearly "Please stop playing politics here, we are a potential vote bank of 10.21 lakh and if we include our families, friends and wellwishers, this number could be four fold and can be devastating for the prospects of any political party in the ensuing elections!

Here is the news report on demands of "United Voices for Disability Equality"

Hike in aid for the disabled

BHUBANESWAR: The number of persons with disabilities is 12.21 lakh. But Orissa is yet to have a full-time and independent disability commissioner .

Differently-abled persons under the aegis of United Voices for Disability Equality (UVDE) today demanded filling up of the post before the ensuing Assembly session for immediate redressal of the problems of people with disabilities (PWDs) .

The office of the commissioner should be outside the State Secretariat building with barrier-free access, they demanded saying currently the PWDs are facing many problems even to reach the official concerned .

It would be better if the commissioner can be selected from among the differently-abled persons or parents of the disabled children so that the actual problems of the PWDs can be solved immediately, they said .

The forum, after a day-long deliberations today decided to give a memorandum to the Chief Minister, minister concerned, Opposition members and all MLAs tomorrow. “If the Government fails to make an announcement before the Assembly session then we would hold a protest before the Assembly,’’ they said .

The UVDE, consisting of 11 organisations from 21 districts, also decided that they would be forced to go for an agitational path further if the Government would not pay any heed to their genuine demands during the session, they said adding in 18 states across the country disability commissioners are working independently according to the PWD Act passed by Parliament in 1995 .

They told mediapersons that even when a disability commissioner incharge takes the burden here, he/she cannot function independently as he/ she also looks after the programmes of other departments .

Some UVDE members even said that though the ruling BJD manifesto had been mentioning about appointment of a disability commissioner for the last three elections, no initiative is taken yet .

“Not only this is a betrayal, but politically it means a lot to all our 10.21 lakh member community,’’ they said alleging that by not appointing a disability commissioner the Government is violating the human rights of the differently-abled people, which are guaranteed under the PWD Act .

Not only the appointment of the official, but Orissa is still providing a monetary benefit of Rs 200 a month to differently-abled persons as assistance and it is far less than in other states .

While Goa is giving Rs 1,500 and Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Rs 900, Maharashtra and Kerala are providing Rs 700 a month .

On the other hand, while Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are giving Rs 600, newly-formed Jharkhand gives double the amount of what Orissa provides, they said .

“With 2.78 per cent of the State population, we always deserve a better deal,’’ they pointed out and urged the Government to acknowledge their rights first which are ensured by the Constitution .