M. I. Habibullah writes: The handicapped people take anything as a challenge. For the disabled people, their disability is not an inability, but through self-confidence and un-tiring efforts, the handicapped people prove that they can do anything equally well as the able-bodied.
The Third Day of December every year is observed as the World Day for the Disabled all over the world. This day provides an opportunity to focus the attention of Government and the society towards the problems of the handicapped community. The handicapped draw inspiration to integrate themselves into the mainstream of social life. This occasion gives an opportunity to the community to express it’s solidarity with the disabled people.
Deformity in one’s physical or mental capability is the worst that can befall on a person at any time. Be it because of the nature’s foul play, or the result of an un-expected, un-fortunate accident. If the victim of the accident happens to be the poorest of the poor, survival with his disability only compounds the troubles.
The Government had made many Herculean plans for the all-round betterment of the handicapped people. Realising the handicapped community as part of the weaker section of the society, the government included handicapped welfare in the Nation’s Five Year Plans and plan after plan, this area has been given an enhanced outlay.
The Articles 41 & 46 of the Constitution of India also insists on the overall development of the disabled community. The total population of the disabled community of the country is 14 crores including all categories of the handicapped people. The disabled are classified into five categories as under. (1) Visually handicapped (2) Orthopaedically handicapped (Locomotor-Disability) (3) Hearing Handicapped (Deaf & Dump) (4) Mentally Handicapped and (5) Leprosy-Cured.
Special Employment Exchange
As the maiden step in the field of rehabilitation of the disabled, the government established a special employment exchange for the physically-handicapped SEEPH at Mumbai in 1957 for securing employment opportunities for the all-round betterment of all categories of the handicapped people. Seeing the tremendous response it received among the disabled community, the Government slowly increased their number. At present there are 43 special employment exchanges.
As a second step, the Ministry of Labour set-up 22 Vocational Rehabilitation Centers (VRCs) for the handicapped in the key stations of the country to provide vocational evaluation and adjustment training to the handicapped persons. Of all the VRCs, the Vadadora VRC at Gujarat is specially meant for the handicappedwomen. Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment set-up a National Institute for the Multiple Handicapped at Muttukkadu at Kaanchipuram District inTamil Nadu State.
Realising the growing problems of the physically challenged people, the Social Justice Ministry established four national level institutes for each category of the handicapped to provide National-level facilities in research, training, documentation consultancy etc. The four National Institutes are, National Institute for the Visually Handicapped at Dehradun in Uttarkhand State; National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped at Calcutta in West Bengal; Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped at Mumbai in Maharashtra and National Institute for Mentally Handicapped at Secundarabad in Andhra Pradesh.
India is one of the signatories in the Asian-Pacific Region Conference, held atBeijing, China from December 1-5, 1992 to discuss the problems of the disabled, particularly, the Rights & Securities of the Handicapped. In order to give real-shape to the Asian-Pacific meeting, the Government enacted legislations for the handicapped as under: Persons with Disability (PWD) (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act – 1995, which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier free environment, social security etc.
RTI in Braille
In order to provide equal opportunities to the handicapped, the Ministry of Social Justice published the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Braille to cater to the visually handicapped persons. The copies of the Braille versions of the RTI-Act can be obtained from the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped at Dehradun.
National Finance Corporation
The Ministry of Social Justice has set up the National Handicapped Financial Development Corporation (NHFDC) to assist the handicapped unemployed persons for their self-employment-ventures. The Corporation helps the handicapped informulating projects, conducting market surveys and renders all kinds of technical and other guidance. The main object of the corporation is to make the unemployed handicapped people to stand on their own through self-employment ventures. The Corporation not only provides concessional loans for the self-employment of the handicapped but also provides concessional loans for pursuing professional/technical education leading to vocational rehabilitation/self-employment.
The Social Justice Ministry recently formulated a scheme of Nirmaya. Under this scheme, free insurance coverage is made available to the mentally handicapped people.
To encourage the physically challenged people, the Government instituted the National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, in the hope that achievements of the awardees would inspire and encourage others to dedicate themselves towards the cause of the empowerment of persons with disabilities and also to recognise those who have helped the persons with disabilities to lead a better life through their sincere and dedicated service. The Government has been giving National Awards in the field of disability, every year, since 1969 to the outstanding individuals and institutions working for the welfare of persons with disabilities. The awards are presented on the International Day of Disabled Persons. The award has been redesignated “National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities”.
To Keep pace with the changing need of the time, during the year 2009, the Scheme of the National Awards has been partially revised to add a new category of Award namely, ‘Best Braille Press’, in turn, increasing total number of category of Awards to 12 this year. Thus, the number of total awards have gone up to 60 as a result. This award comprises Rs. 1,00,000/- in cash, a certificate and a citation.