Showing posts with label commissioner-disability. Show all posts
Showing posts with label commissioner-disability. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Inexperienced Bureaucrats as Disability Commissioners - is against the spirit of Disabilities Act

Dear colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post "We need independent Commissioners for Disabilities....". This has been a long standing demand that the posts of State Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities should be filled by  persons with knowledge of disability rehabilitation and at least 10 years standing in the sector working on disability rights. However,  it is little sad to say that the Govt. of Delhi has, in order to accommodate a retired bureaucrat with absolutely no direct experience in disability rehabilitation, tweaked the rules just a month back and now the said person has been appointed rejecting over 11 eligible applicants for the post.

This is an uncalled for situation and these posts should not become accommodating posts for retired bureaucrats faithful to the Government. We need sensitive & experienced people to handle these posts. These amendments are against the very spirit of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

Here is the news coverage from The Hindu

Well-known names from disability sector rejected; criteria changed a month before appointment.

Just a month prior to the appointment of former Municipal Commissioner K. S. Mehra as Commissioner (Persons with Disabilities), the Delhi Government had amended the rules for appointing a bureaucrat to the post. While 12 applications were received, the panel headed by then State Chief Secretary had “unanimously recommended” the name of the lone bureaucrat on it.

The preference given to the bureaucrat has raised many eyebrows as among those who had applied for the post were well known names from the social and disability sector.

The “justification/reason” on the part of the Delhi Government was that “the post of Commissioner (Disabilities) is a quasi-judicial post. Mainly two jobs are done by the Commissioner – to hear grievances, which is a quasi-judicial work; and monitoring the work of the State Government, which is the statutory part. Both these jobs do not require high level specialised knowledge in disability”.

The details about the changes brought about to facilitate Mr. Mehra’s appointment have come through a Right to Information application filed by a non-government organisation, Pratidhi.

Raj Mangal Prasad of Pratidhi said: “While the RTI application was filed when the process of selection was on (and as we came to know that the exercise of amending rules to accommodate bureaucrats was on), the file was not shown till Mr. Mehra’s appointment was notified.”

It has been revealed that among the applicants to the post was a head in the Department of Psychology at a Rohtak college; a Joint Director (Technical) in the Department of Women and Child Development; an anganwadi worker, and audiologist and speech pathologist; a legal adviser, a senior registrar from a Mumbai university; a social worker, a counsellor cum special educator, a rehabilitation social worker and an associate professor of Delhi University.

In response to its query, the Delhi Government stated that the meeting of the Selection Committee for selection of Commissioner (Persons with Disabilities) was held under the chairmanship of the Delhi Chief Secretary on November 9, 2012.

As per the minutes of the meeting, the Selection Committee was appraised about eligibility of the candidates for selection to the post of Commissioner (Persons with Disabilities) based on the provision of Section 60 (1) of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act-1995 and Delhi Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Rules-2001 ready with the Amendment Rules-2011 and Amendment Rules-2012.

The Department of Social Welfare and Women and Child Development had invited applications for the post of Commissioner (Persons with Disabilities) in October 2012 and received 12 applications.

As per the minutes, “The Selection Committee scrutinised and considered the eligibility conditions required for the post, the qualification and experience of all applicants, and unanimously recommended the name” of retired Indian Administrative Service officer K. S. Mehra for the post.

Incidentally, it was less than a month before the appointment of Mr. Mehra that the rules were changed. On October 12, a notification was issued for the Department of Social Welfare in which the amendment of Rule 50 of the Act was made.

While earlier the rules were such that only those with experience in disability-related matters and social sector, or those who had worked in the field of empowerment of Persons with Disabilities could apply, the amendment made it easier for bureaucrats to get the job.

Following the amendment, as per Rule 62 it is only “essential” for the Commissioner to be “a graduate from a recognised university” and “desirable” for him or her to possess “a recognised masters degree in social work/sociology”.

As for the “experience”, the amended Rule also spelt out that the candidate to the post “should have at least 10 years of consolidated experience in one or more of some type of organisation at desired levels”.

Earlier, the rules were stringent. Rule 50 (B) demanded that the candidate for the post “should have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters related to rehabilitation of persons with disabilities”.

In fact in August 2011, former Commissioner (Disabilities) Pradeep Singh had written to the then Secretary (Social Welfare) Sanjiv Kumar stating that “the rules for appointment of Commissioner, as now framed, require 10 years of experience in disability related matters and/or social sector out of which at least 5 years of experience should be in the field of empowerment of Persons with Disabilities”.

Observing that “there may not even be a single officer currently serving in the Government of Delhi or Government of India with a minimum of five years experience in the field of empowerment of persons with disabilities”, Mr. Singh had pointed out that “thus the rules as now framed, would select only persons having worked/working in NGOs/disability organisations”.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More than 50% PwD have no Disability Certificates

Three of 5 disabled have no proof of their condition
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, June 17
Three in every five differently-abled persons in India have no proof of their disability. Seventeen years after the government enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act in 1995 to make life easier for such persons, evidence from across the country shows that only 39.13 pc of them have been issued disability certificates.

Only 12 states, led by Andhra Pradesh, have reported more than 50 per cent coverage of their differently-abled population. Union Territory of Daman and Diu has issued disability certificates to just 1.13 pc of the total differently-abled persons living there, as per 2001 census.

New Delhi is among the poorest performers and has so far given certificates to only 10.19 pc of its physically challenged population. The 2001 Census puts the count of differently-abled persons living in Delhi at 2.36 lakh. Out of them, only about 2,400 persons have got disability certificates until March 31, 2012.

Coverage reported by Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand is also lower than the national average. These states have issued disability certificates to 38.88 pc and 22.23 pc of their respective differently-abled populations.

Overall, out of 216.3 lakh differently-abled persons in India (2001 Census), the government has managed to give official proof of disability only to 84.62 lakh persons till March this year. Around 131.67 lakh differently-abled persons are still awaiting their certificates, reveals the latest data collated by the Office of Chief Commissioner of Disabilities under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

These are shockingly low numbers. Simply put, 60.87 per cent of the differently-abled persons in India can't access the rights guaranteed to them under the law — be it transport concessions, job reservations or quotas in educational institutions. This also explains why year after year, the posts reserved for the differently-abled persons in government offices and seats set aside for them in educational institutes go vacant.

"A disability certificate is the very foundation of the life of a differently-abled person. It is to me what a UID is to you. It is my virtual gateway to the world, to life itself. But the procedure to get this document is so complex in India that most differently-abled persons, mainly the poor, never manage to get it," says Javed Abidi, President, Disability Rights Group, (DRG) an umbrella organisation of NGOs working for in the disability sector.

Under the law, the disability certificate is issued by a medical authority notified by the state government. Each such medical authority is constituted at the district level and is supposed to receive applications from the disabled, assess their disability and issue them a certificate within a week from the receipt of application, if the disability is assessed at 40 per cent. Only a government doctor is authorised to issue a disability certificate for which an applicant is required to come to the district government hospital and represent his case before the medical authority constituted for the purpose.

But the problem is this: Government documents reveal that so far only 16 states in India have notified these medical authorities. These are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and UP.

The DRG had petitioned the Health Ministry and the PMO earlier saying the delivery of disability certificate should be decentralised down to primary health centre-level so that a poor villager can get his disability assessed without having to take the trouble of coming all the way to the district.

"We ask a simple question. If a passport can be delivered to an applicant at home, what is the problem in delivering a disability certificate at home? A disabled has a greater right over the document because his movement is impaired. We have asked for a simple online application to be designed to allow the disabled to declare their disability. Let the government verify the authenticity of the claim and home deliver the certificates," Abidi says.

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 .