Include differently-abled in building the nation - The New Indian Express

Include differently-abled in building the nation

Published: 03rd December 2012 11:46 PM

Last Updated: 03rd December 2012 11:46 PM

Monday’s celebrations of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities would have served some purpose if those in power had used the occasion to review how the laws in this regard have been implemented. This would have spurred them to take action on a host of issues confronting the differently-abled, who constitute 10-15 per cent of the population. India was one of the first to sign the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has its own laws like the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992.

The world’s largest pre-school Integrated Child Development Services and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights do not have any special provisions for them. The government’s flagship Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan schools have been found to be inaccessible to ‘disabled’ children, as are railway stations, public transport, public toilets and many government buildings. The Right to Education Act, which is trumpeted as a pioneering legislation, has ignored the needs of the children who suffer from various impairments.

The inordinate delay in introducing in Parliament a new draft law that would make community-based rehabilitation of the differently-abled a reality is a pointer to the government’s lack of political will. Creating a new department to look after the affairs of the ‘disabled’ will not serve any purpose when the authorities have not even been able to provide all textbooks in Braille. The prime minister has an array of experts to advise him on various subjects: Why can’t he have one to suggest steps to include over 100 million differently-abled in the nation-building process? Poverty often creates disability but elimination of poverty alone will not remove disability. Unrelenting focus on policy and implementation is the need of the hour.

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