Disabled and Disadvantaged
WE ARE FORCED TO LAMENT, PROTEST AND OBSERVE THIS DAY AS A BLACK DAY
WORLD DISABLED DAY BY JAVED AHMAD TAK
Most of us think that the Physically Challenged persons are less fortunate and have less exposure to the world; it is not true. God has compensated their disability with some of the sharpest instincts. That is why some call us Differently Abled.
Persons with disabilities are discriminated at all levels in the society. This is because the charity model of disability has been adopted by the stake holders all around the country for the so called empowerment of the persons with disabilities. This country has ratified UN – Convention for the Rights of the persons with disabilities and vigorous process is on to replace the existing Disability Act – 1995 (Equal opportunities, Protection of the Rights and full participation) and amend National Trust Act – 1999, Rehabilitation Council of India Act – 1992 and Mental Health Act – 1987. All these Acts have one mandate - to remove discrimination and create inclusive society. But at gross-roots level things are quite contrary to all this.
Persons with disabilities are facing intense discrimination at all levels including education, employment, accessibility, and living independently in the community. There is social stigma stuck to severe disabilities, forcing such persons to live a dependent life. Anyhow handful of persons with disabilities, become successful in overcoming immense challenges.
There is no school with appropriate teaching facilities where children with disabilities can continue their education through special educators and appropriate learning material. There is no feasible curriculum available with the State Board and the Universities in our state in comparison to many other states in the country. Some physically disabled students have less healthy upper limbs or arms still they have to compete in the normal schooling standards and examinations with the normal students with the same time available for normal students with good health. Almost all severe physically challenged students face painful conditions but they are bound to ignore the pain and face the exams with others. There is no special provision to accommodate students with loco-motor disabilities to take examination or attend classes .
Students facing disability by birth are carried by their parents to the class room and taken back home. Neither there is any support system nor any reasonable accommodation available for such students. Still a number of severe disabled students overcome these challenges and attain Degrees.
But at the time of employing the persons with disabilities the discrimination happens. The Circular No: 62-SW of 2001 Dated: 23-03-2001, has made us really handicapped. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment identifies teacher post for the Deaf, Mute, Blind, and for other severely disabled but here in our state such persons are dropped from the list with the only plea that the post of teacher has not been identified for them. It is very unfortunate that persons with either upper or both lower limb disabilities are not considered for any post here by the SSRB due to above mentioned circular.
Even officials with severe disabilities, like IAS and KAS officers, who are blind or have no upper or lower limbs have proved themselves fully capable. We have such cases to prove the point. Mr. Khursheed Malik served the state in capacity of Secretary in different departments on a wheel. He created a lasting impressions in the hearts of common people by serving the state with full dedication and honesty. Mr. Riyaz Beigh is serving the state as KAS officer. He has no upper working limbs, still he has been serving the people of state with dedication, commitment and dignity. In the same context Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat of Budran Budgam, working as teacher at Middle School in Kandhama, Beerwa, Budgam has been serving the masses like any other able bodied person. Mr. Tariq Bashir working as 10+2 lecturer in District Institute of Education and Training, Khanabal, Islamabad, was in the first attempt dropped as he applied for the post of teacher through SSRB. But later he was selected as 10+2 lecturer in History subject in the higher education department and is now posted at DIET Islamabad. He has changed the history and removed the stigma that blind people cannot teach.
Keeping such role models in view the above mentioned circular makes least sense. We are confused about the selection criteria formulated by the state in making recruitments through SSRB and PSC for the persons with disabilities in J&K state. In other states flawless policies and SROs exist to help the persons with disabilities of all sorts to seek education and employment .
On eve of this World Disability Day, Social Welfare Department needs to do some brain breaking on these issues.
Persons with disabilities spend more on their education and maintenance of life than normal people do. Because persons with severe disabilities, mainly using wheel chair, blind and dependent on crutches and other aids and appliance for their mobility can’t reach school and other places using normal transport. They have to spend a lot of time and money. Sometimes harsh climatic conditions keep them confined to home and they are unable to continue schooling. So they need additional tuitions to compete with other students. Sometimes a disabled student is 100% crippled thus fully dependent on high support needs. Like Mr. Waseem Feroz Matoo, whose mother carried him to the school and back home every time, from Nursery to class 8th. But even after completing B.A, B.Ed he was dropped from the Budgam teacher list with the only plea that his legs are disabled.
In 2010 a historic decision was passed by the double Bench in Apex Court (the Honorable Supreme Court of India) in case of Syed Bashir ud Din Qadri V/S State of J&K. Syed Bashir has been working as teacher in the Middle School Kanjinag, Awantipora in Pulwama District under Rehbar-e -Taleem scheme. He was disengaged on grounds that he is not using his arms and is not able to take food himself and cannot use the black board. But the honorable Supreme Court of India considered it as the severe case of discrimination under Article 22 of the JK persons with Disabilities Act 1998, guaranteeing equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation. Thus Orders were passed to reinstate syed Bashir who is presently working as teacher in the Kanjinag school .
Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for persons with disabilities, under ministry of Labor and employment was established in premises of Government Polytechnic College, Srinagar, on September 14, 2005. So far only 50 candidates with disabilities were registered for different trades. 25 of the registered candidates completed the courses and rest were dropped. The budget spent in lakhs could only empower 25 candidates. (Information Sought under RTI application reply under No: F.No: VRC-(SN) 11025/01/07/672 Dated: 17/10/2011.)
National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation NHFDC is another institution established at national level for providing opportunities of generating livelihood for the youth with disabilities across the country. In other states persons with disabilities enjoy loan facilities from the institution and are doing their business independently to live a life with dignity. But our state through the J&K SC/ST/OBC Corporation as the channeling agency for NHFDC has created another record. This year applications received from disabled people have been ignored, not a single person was covered so far. Out of allocated Rs. 52.00 Lacs not a single penny has been released for our state due to state’s lenient approach towards the matter. Thus again the scheme is failure in J&K. (information sought under reply of RTI application under No: SCSTBC/corp./RTI Act/2011/2155-56. Dated 01/11/2011).
National Planning Commission has declared 3% budget allocations in the 11th five year plan for the benefit of persons with disabilities through all departments. But as per information sought under RTI applications nothing special has been allocated by Company Affairs and Public Distribution Department and Department of Science and Technology J&K government ( under RTI reply No: CAPD/Plan/RTI/36/2001 Dated 17/11/2011 & No:- ST/Adm/61/2011 Dated: 18/11/2011. Other 6 Ministries/ Departments of J&K state viz Health, Education, Finance, Higher Education, asked for same information have failed to respond so far. )
Country has recently started process for harmonizing disability law 1995 with the UN – convention on Rights of persons with disabilities but the state is still discriminating with persons with mental retardation, autism, mental illness and multiple disabilities by not bringing National Trust Act 1999. Members of Legislative Assembly and Council should look into these voids; why best Acts of country are not adopted.
The corporate sector in J&K is also neglecting persons with disabilities. Apart from inaccessible websites all banks have inaccessible banking system for persons with disabilities. No ATM in our state is accessible to severely disabled people. Job reservation is not given to persons with disabilities in corporate sector.
A huge number of people visit civil secretariat but the persons using wheel chairs are asked by the security to call official whom we want to meet there. We are treated indifferently by the security there. Is it possible for all officials to give their contact numbers to the disabled people and would all officials make it easier for us to meet them in the offices. I personally wrote about the problem to the Honorable Chief Minister’s grievance cell; but, who cares?
We are forced to lament, protest and observe this day as a black day.
Author is a social activist, and Honorary Chairman, Humanity Welfare Organisation HEPLINE NGO, J&K. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 2 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 2 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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