Manmohan promises disabled-friendly laws

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the government was in favour of amending the laws, if need be, to make them more disabled-friendly.

He gave this assurance to a delegation of the differently-abled persons who met him in Parliament. The delegation was led by CPI (M) MP Brinda Karat.

“The Prime Minister was extremely sympathetic towards the demands of the disabled persons and said their demands were genuine,'' Ms. Karat said. Dr. Singh assured the delegation of changing the laws to make them disabled-friendly, if necessary. The Prime Minister interacted with the members of the delegations and enquired about their problems.

Talking to The Hindu, Ms. Karat said this was the first time that a delegation of differently-abled persons had visited Parliament House. “It was pointed out to the Parliament staff that there was only one gate (Gate no 9) in Parliament House for the physically disabled people and this was far away from the main entrance,” Ms. Karat said.

The delegation also met the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik who told them that the government was finalising a new law for the disabled that would replace the existing law.

Earlier, a large number of people with different forms of disabilities marched to Parliament House to demand a better deal.

Marching under the banner, ‘National Platform for the Rights of Disabled Persons,' the people highlighted the plight of the economically and socially disadvantaged among the disabled, the poor, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. “The basic issue is that of the approach of the government and we must request you to consider our demands not as an act of charity but as fulfilment of entitlements and rights as equal citizens of India. India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the persons with Disabilities which enjoins the government to ensure minimum rights and livelihood to disabled citizens,'' the marchers said in a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister.

The demands include a comprehensive social security system for all persons with disabilities and their families including the Antyodaya cards, free health care for disabled persons, amendments to the Right to Education Act to make provision for disabled teachers and professional and identification of jobs for the disabled immediately with annual special recruitment drives each year.

Besides setting up a separate Ministry for disability affairs, the memorandum also sought issuance of a universally valid identity card and replacing the current Persons with Disabilities Act (1995) in consonance with the provisions of the U.N. Convention and harmonising other laws, the disabled persons also wanted proper enumeration of the persons with disabilities.

The organisations that participated in the march included the Paschimbanga Rajya Pratibandhi Samaiilani, the Differently Abled Persons Welfare Federation of Thiruvananthapuram, the Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota, the Jharkhand Vikalanga Morcha, the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all types of Disabled and Caregivers and the Vibhinna Prathiba Vanthula Jakkula Vedika of Andhra Pradesh.


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