Rights of The Disabled
“Disability is a class in itself that any one may fall victim at any time. It can come about as a result of a sudden accident, a fall down a flight of stairs or disease. Disability keeps up no socio-economic boundaries since disability catches up with most people in its fold in old age, it is a class that any of us many fall in it some day.”
Even today the disabled in India see their physical or menial limitations as either a sources of shame or a source of inspiration for other. By concentrating on overcoming the disability, we fail to notice that a disability itself cannot be overcome by a disabled person, however, heroic she or he may be. In the west, the Disability Rights Movement has felt this and, therefore, they proclaim that “It is okay, even good, to be disabled”.
The Disability Rights Movement:
Unlike other movements like Feminism or Lesbian Movement which have distinct agendas of either gender justice or the right to sexual orientation, the Disability Rights Movement does not have systematic path. Disability Rights Movement even in the west has a very recent origin and tries to draw strength from the traditional legal order rather than by critiquing or deconstructing it. Joseph Shapiro neatly summarises the characteristics of this movement in the west. “The disability movement is a mosaic movement for the 1990s. Diversity is its critical characteristic. No leader or organisation can claim to speak for all the disabled.”
The Disability Rights Movement in India and in Third World Countries is discursive and disorganized and there is no written documents to trace its origin. Actually in India the Disability Rights Movement has been launched by NGOs and therefore, a large number of NGOs have mushroomed all over the country. Instead of working together to consolidate the movement, there is often seen unwarranted and unhealthy rivalry between NGOs. Similar conflicts were also noted across different sections of the disabled. While there are a number of organizations making serious rehabilitation attempts and genuinely working for the upliftment of the disabled there are also NGOs that are simply cashing in on the cause just trying to pocket the funds and doing nothing for the disabled.
Government’s Solace for the disabled :
Until 1995 there was no law that even defined discrimination against people with disabilities. It is only with the ‘Persons with Disabilities Act’, passed in 1995 that discrimination specifically against persons with disabilities came under the purview of the law. Till 1995, most of the welfare measures taken by the states were by way of affirmative action. The Ministry of Social Welfare was largely concerned with problems of persons with disability and with providing them privileges. Rehabilitation of people with disability the opening shelter workshops and educational and research institutions as in the National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehra Dun, the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secundrabad etc, opening special schools and awarding scholarships for students with disability, providing employment through job reservations mainly in Class 3 and 4 in Central and State Government Department and providing disabled people travel concessions and installing awards for disabled workers and institutions working for the welfare of the disabled. During early 80’s some major developments in the International Disability Rights Movement brought about a change in the attitude of the Government of India. The first earnest sign was the enactment of the “Mental Health Act, 1987” The Act is aimed at protecting mentally ill persons in matters of admission and detention in psychiatric hospitals and the custody of his/her persons, his/her property and its management and human rights.
Persons with Disabilities Act 1995
A meeting was convened by the Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific region in Beijing in December 1992 to launch the Asia-Pacific decade of disabled person. The meeting declared 1993-2000 as the Asia- Pacific decade and proclaimed the “Full participation and equality of people with disabilities” as the objective. To give legislative effect to the above proclamation, the persons with disabilities (Equal opportunity, Protection of Civil Rights, and Full participation) Act was enacted in India 1995 and came into force on 1st January 1996.
Quota in IAS For Disabled
The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Dec. 19, 2005 that two posts should be reserved for physically – challenged in the Indian Administrative Service from 2005. A division bench disposed of a PIL on the issue after the Department of Personal and Training’s lawyer told the court that two posts had been reserved for hearing impaired and visually-challenged candidates.
The centre has identified posts for the physically -challenged in seven of the 27 civil services exams conducted by the UPSC. Rigzian Samphel and Lokesh Kumar, who are physically -challenged and had secured 120th and 132nd rank in 2003’s Civil Services Examination, got IAS after the court took suo motu cognisance of reports and intervened in the matter. Rigzian stood second among ST candidates and Lokesh ninth among SC candidates. They should have got IAS, but instead were given Indian Information Services.
A close study of the Act makes us feel “as if the Government is a gracious donor and disabled persons are absolute dependents”. This is a major stumbling block in the process of providing equal opportunities to the disabled. In place of focusing on the capabilities of disabled people. The act concentrates very much on activity limitations of the disabled and perpetuates the victim image of disabled people.
Unfortunately, the act does not pay any serious attention of securing some basic rights like the right to human dignity, right to equal concern and respect, right against discrimination in public employment and educational institutions, right against exploitation, right against victimization etc. The act has totally ignored some vital aspects such as pre-school education of disabled children, special problems of the parents of the disabled, special problems of the female disabled, games, sports and cultural activities, exploitation of disabled by their own families, higher education of the disabled.
Although the implement of the act has been gradual, it does not mean that the act has not rescued the disabled at all. It has provided a platform to unite and mobilize disable individuals across the country. ‘
The success of this act would, however, bank much upon the extent to which the political leaders and bureaucratic executive internalizes the values, sensibilities and goals enshrined in the act. If persons with disability are to be regarded as full citizens of India, their rights to equal concern and respect must find its expression in the supreme law of the land.