Social inclusion and employment: Tackling disability

On International Day of Disabled Persons, Reena Mathai Luke evaluates the empowerment of physically challenged people through gainful employment 

Published: 03rd December 2019 07:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2019 07:03 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Despite the modified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, the complete inclusion of people living with the condition in the social fabric remains an aspirational goal. While there is increased awareness, the progress on a practical scale has been both untenable and limited. Social stigma and economic disparities play a big role in emphasising the feeling of helplessness experienced by the physically challenged, adding to their low esteem.

Admittedly, rigid attitudes and economic disparities cannot be erased in a hurry; but ensuring income adequacy could ease some of the pain points and amplify a sense of self-worth among them. Around 50 per cent of the country’s physically challenged people are in the employable age of 20-50 years. Though the government offers them 3% job reservation, a lot more needs to be done.

To cite an example, it was encouraging to hear that a reputed logistics company in the country was proactively recruiting deaf and dumb candidates. However, a conversation with the local HR person blew the lid off their ‘inclusion’ charade. “We are looking to increase the number of deaf & dumb workers because they work without getting distracted and even better, they cannot complain or ask for a salary raise!” said the executive.

Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the recruitment was just a ‘project’ done by third-party private vendors. To make things worse, this company with an annual turnover of over `27 crore did not invest in a single sensitisation programme, job audits or have a single sign language expert on their payroll. 

Fortunately, there are several good examples among employers. Companies like Accenture India, Capgemini, Lemon Tree Hotels, Big Basket and the Tata Group of Industries proactively employ people with disabilities. A more recent player like the Big Basket is keen to have 7% physically challenged members in its staff portfolio, and have trained some of  its staff in sign language. It also has a specially designed buddy support schemes to make the integration of such candidates into the system easier.

There are two important factors to be considered here— addressing attitudinal barriers and the proactive role of a company’s chief. Confronting traditional perceptions about physically challenged people is vital to break attitudinal barriers, which in turn will be able to initiate change in other areas.The writer is the General Manager at DRF Communications. The views and opinions shared are entirely her own

Stay up to date on all the latest Kochi news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp