M. I. Habibullah
Persons with Disabilities are valuable human resources for the country and the need is to create an environment that provides them with equal opportunities, protection of their rights and full participation in society.
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December was established by the International Year for Disabled Persons 1981. The Day aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The goal of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development was established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.
The UN’s commitment to the full and effective participation of all human rights by persons with disabilities provide an international policy framework, which has been further strengthened by the newly adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006. India signed the UN Convention on 30th March, 2007, the day it opened for signatures.
The Government is committed for the realization of full participation, protection of rights, and equal opportunities to all including persons with disabilities. The article 41 and 46 of the Constitution of India also insists on the overall development of the Disabled Community. The Disabled are classified into categories as – Visually Handicapped; Orthopedically handicapped (Locomotor-Disability); Hearing Handicapped (Deaf & Dumb); Mentally Handicapped; and Leprosy cured.
For the overall development of the physically challenged community of the Nation, the Government has taken rehabilitation measures by opening special employment exchange at all the district headquarters for the registration of all categories of eligible handicapped job-seekers and Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRCs) at all the State Capitals, to provide vocational evaluation and adjustment training.
Moreover the Ministry of Social Justice has set up four National level Institutes at the following stations to serve the handicapped people at National level – National Institute for the visually handicapped at Dehra Dun in Uttarkhand; National Institute for the orthopedically handicapped at Kolkatta in West Bengal; National Institute for the Mentally handicapped at Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh; and Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the hearing handicapped at Mumbai in Maharashtra.
Apart from the four National Level Institutes, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare established the following three National Instutues for the all-round and treatment of the physically challenged community. They are the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, which is located at Mysore in Karnataka state; National Institute for Mental Health & Neurosciences, which is located at Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka; and Central Leprosy Training & Research Institute, which is located at Tharamani, at Chengelpet District in Tamil Nadu.
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment also set up a National Institute for the multiple Handicapped at Muttukkadu in Tamil Nadu for the betterment of the mentally retarded persons and the same Ministry also formulated a corporation in the name and style of National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation which provides loan for the self-employment purposes of the Disabled People. The Corporation also provides National Scholarship for the handicapped students.
On the occasion of the International Year of the Disabled Persons in 1981, the Ministry of Social Welfare launched a Mass Scheme for the distribution of Aids & Appliances to the need and poor handicapped persons according to their disabilities. Under this scheme, wheel chairs, crutches, motorized tri-cycles and ordinary tri-cycle, artificial limbs, hearing aids, educational kits, Braille watches are provided free of cost to the economically weaker handicapped persons and fifty percent of the cost of the appliance are charged from other handicapped persons.
Our country, is also one of the signatories in the Asian-Pacific Region Conference, which was held at Beijing, China on December, 1992 to discuss the problems of the handicapped people, particularly, about their rights & securities. In order to give real shape to the conference, the Government enacted legislations for the handicapped – Persons with Disability (Dual opportunities, Protection of rights and full participation) Act 1995, which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier-free environment, social security etc.
On the occasion of the World Disabled Day, that is observed on 3rd December, every year, the President of India confers National Awards to the outstanding handicapped employees and their employers to encourage the handicapped employees and their employers.
Through self confidence and untiring efforts, the handicapped people proved that their Disability is not inability.