House Should Recognise Rights of the Disabled - The New Indian Express

House Should Recognise Rights of the Disabled

Published: 11th January 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 11th January 2014 01:25 AM

The differently abled people in India are “invisible”, not only to politicians alone but also the society at large, it seems. This alone can explain the UPA government’s failure to table the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill in Parliament that it had taken four years to draft. For the estimated 70 million disabled people in India, the approval of the draft bill by the Union cabinet on December 12, 2013, raised their hopes only to be dashed. With general elections looming ahead and the uncertainty of how much legislative business will be conducted at the next session, it is unlikely that the law makers will now have the time or inclination to push it through in the current term of Parliament.

Since they do not fit into the socio-cultural pattern of what “normal” individuals should be like, these people are either to be pitied or shunned. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, considered landmark legislation at the time, sought to challenge this attitude. However, its implementation and scope left much to be desired due to its over reliance on the state’s initiative in framing schemes for the group, emphasising their vulnerability rather than enhancing their capability.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2012 has tried to do away with the shortcomings in the 1995 Act. There are a few aspects like that of inclusive education of the disabled and employment in identified posts that have been flagged by some disability rights advocates as areas that need to be reworked. These and related issues need to be discussed widely once the bill is tabled in Parliament. If the present Lok Sabha can do so and ensure that the hopes and aspirations of the disabled are not dashed and the efforts of all those who have worked on the bill do not go in vain, it will be partially washing away the stigma of being the least performing House.

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