Disability News India (DNI)
Disability News India (DNI), is a disability News service dedicated to providing a quality up-to-date information to the Indian Disability. DNI's news section is updated two times a week, though we also add breaking stories as and when they occur.
Disability News India –April IssueArticles of the Month
April Issue Vol 2
April Issue Vol 1
News of the Month
April Issue Vol 1
- Plaintive plea: Make hemophilia drug essential
- Now, a software to give clarified vision to blinds
- Mangalore: Value–based education for Rs. 1 per annum
- Govt to unveil quotas in tech education for women, disabled person
- Eradicating Polio a Better Option Than Control of the Disease: Study
- How about a master plan for them?
- Leprosy patients denied right to live with dignity: Shekhawat
- College lets youth write exam alone
- Move to scrap scheme for disabled stayed
- Autism – the challenges ahead
- Visually impaired models walk the ramp in Gujarat
- POINTS OF CONSENSUS EMERGED DURING THE CONFERENCE OF STATE
- Visually–Impaired Cries Foul – Varsity Lecturer Protests Dismissal
- Ramps in new Tamil Nadu government buildings
- LIVING WITH IT – Doing IT themselves
- Phone Booths run by disabled people to stay at railway stations
- Disability es no handicap
- Can and Able: "I CAN ONLY LOOK FOR JOBS WITHIN ANDHERI, SINCE I CAN'T TRAVEL FAR. AND BUILDINGS HERE RARELY ALLOW WHEELCHAIR ACCESS" Mohini Sharma, Disabled student
- Government houses to be modified for disabled people
- 'Rs 225 crore for welfare of disabled people '
- Way to booths not barrier–free
- Government to review job quota for disabled people
- DISCONNECTED – Railways pull chain on disabled people
- RTI to no avail, disabled people waits for PESCO information
- Making it easier for the disabled people
- Orphaned, Disabled people and Longing to Live
- Sarva Shiksha Misson (SSM) plans education for special children
- Bringing out hidden talent in children
- Nobody in Punjab knows the number of the disabled people
- Barrier–free homes fail to mend fences for disabled people
- Mild disability costs man government job
- Overbridges for the disabled people soon
- More facilities at airport soon for domestic passengers
- SC judge echoes netas view on judicial overreach
- Kolkata disabled people group running a factory
- Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd to court: Trains every 5 minutes, toilets not needed
- Delhi Courts puts brakes on Delhi University appointments over disabled people
- Disabled people campaign for UP polls
- High Court stay on recruitment of Delhi University teachers
- Visually Impaired launch music album
- Bharti Airtel in pact with Vocational Rehabilitation Centre and North Eastern Development Finance Corporation
- Himachal invites entries for disability awards
- No paradise for these Goans
- 82 Countries Sign UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities A Record Number Countries Ever to Sign During Opening Ceremony
- India signs UN convention protecting rights of disabled
- The hidden suffering of India's lepers
- Soon, visually impaired to go on air
If you are a wheelchair/ crutch user or experience difficulty in walking be prepared for bureaucratic and architectural barriers that could come between you and the magnificent 'Taj Mahal' at Agra, India.
All vehicles (i.e if you are not from the influential group) are stopped a kilometer and a half away from the main entrance of the Taj Mahal. It is important to carry you own wheelchair and a physically strong escort who could push/ lift will definitely enhance your probability of a successful visit.
From the main entrance there are 2 ramps that lead you to main complex.
The 3rd ramp from the entrance – could be better called a 'slide'. After entering the complex through these two ramps one is very happy as you can see the Taj Mahal from a distance and soon after – your happiness ends.
Hold your breath the next ramp you have to navigate is at an inclination of approximately 45 Degree that spans a height of 6–8 feet. It is impossible to even walk on this ramp without a slip.
A steep ramp (slide) awaits you at the washrooms (toilets) which I did not dare to explore.
The ramps looks old (guesstimate 2–3 years ago) and definitely these ramps have not been put up recently.
I am sure many of the persons who have difficulty in walking would have stayed back and watched the 'Taj Mahal' from a distance of 300 meters and gone back quite disappointed.
The nearest you can get to the Taj Mahal if you are a wheelchair user ? an alternative to explore possibility of being carried down physically. If you do manage to get down the first level of 8 feet mentioned above, after a short walkway along the fountains you will have to climb two more levels (close to 20 feet) by steps to feel the white marble and to get an inside view of the Taj Mahal.
People from all over the world have been visiting the Taj Mahal for generations. Lack of resources is not an excuse. It is not that we do not have the 'know–how' or 'expertise' to come up with appropriate designs and standards that blend with the aesthetics of the place.
Personally, these 'so–called' ramps are testimony to the many half–baked attempts made in the name of 'inclusion' of persons with disabilities. And in the Year 2007 we need to renew the pledge to promote and create opportunities for All to live life with 'respect and dignity' and to be treated as Equals.
Let us work together to break these artificial barriers.
And finally whatever might be the shortcomings – never ever miss an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal.
C. Mahesh, Bangalore, India
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has tremendous potential for providing a sound economic growth of a nation. The same can be a reality if we appreciate, accept and utilise ICT for the common betterment of people at large rather than acquiring the mere tag of a technologically advanced State. The correct approach is to adjust ICT as per the requirements and capabilities of people rather than adopting the reverse. In the Indian context, e–governance and e–commerce must be in conformity with the socio–economic conditions existing in India. One such socio–economic requirement of India is to adapt, utilise and apply ICT for the betterment of persons with disabilities. ICT must be indigenously developed and should be Indianised and localised before putting it in use for persons with disabilities. This is more so regarding the Universities providing basic education at the grass root level.
The first and foremost requirement to bring a just and reasonable culture is to keep things and concepts at place. In India education needs an overall haul and rejuvenation. The same requires an "intrinsic approach" rather than "external support". That is the requirement till the time we arrange things or concepts in order. At the same time we must pay adequate attention towards enabling the disabled people through the mechanism of e–learning. With all the challenges that India is facing in education and training, e–learning has a lot of answers and needs to be addressed seriously by the countries planners and private industry alike. In the knowledge economy the chief competitive advantage of nations is not their physical assets be it land, natural resources or even oil but quality and skill of their people. If used effectively, e–learning can reach education to a large constituency that would otherwise not have access to it. The need for a comprehensive legislation for safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities and enabling them to enjoy equal opportunities and to help them to fully participate in national life was felt for a long time.
In India, the number of persons with disabilities is around 70 million. National as also International efforts to combat this situation are on but the task is a gigantic one. This task can be effectively and easily met if we use ICT for their empowerment. The method of e–learning must be used to impart them appropriate education. At the same time, vocational and professional skills must be made available to them at their own home through the medium of e–learning. The ICT strategy of India must be amended suitably to accommodate this much needed initiative.
In India we have large number of skilled disabled people who because of people negative attitute towards disabilities, environmental barriers and policies, cannot contribute to the development of the nation. Disability and Skill are two different facts and they must not be confused with each other. There is no good reason to presume that disabled people cannot be meritorious and skilled. All that is needed is to accommodate them as per their own physical and mental capabilities. Along with the "reservation policy" we must also provide them support of the ICT base. There is a need to amalgamate technology with the contents so that disabled people can be empowered suitably. It seems this fact skipped the attention of the policy makers as the present e–governance policy of India is not compatible with the requirements of disabled people. Perhaps in the near future some attention will be paid to this concept.
However, the policy makers were kind enough to make reservations in favour of disabled persons. They, however, forgot that "power without accountability is worst than no power". This seems to be true regarding University of Delhi where all sort of arbitrariness and extraneous considerations are playing their level best. The Delhi High Court on 4 April restrained the University of Delhi and all its affiliated colleges, which failed to provide three per cent reservation for disabled person in teaching department, from recruiting faculty members till further orders. I have not seen even single disabled person that has been appointed in the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi during last few years. Even the ad–hoc appointments have witnessed certain "uncertainties" that are within the knowledge of Delhi University. No doubt there are many court cases going on in Faculty of Law and University of Delhi. There is an emergent need of invoking Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act, 2005) as much as possible. The University of Delhi and Faculty of Law are not meeting the requirements of Right to Information Act, 2005 as per the letter and spirit of the Act. There is an atmosphere of "non–accountability" and "evasiveness" at both University of Delhi and Faculty of Law.
Praveen Dalal. All rights reserved with the author.
Arbitrator, Consultant and Advocate, Supreme Court of India.
PATNA: 19 April: The demand of a section of agitating students for provision of writers to the physically disabled examinees has been rejected by the Patna University (PU) examination board. PU controller of examinations Surendra Prasad Snigdha told TOI that, according to an official gazette of the Union law department, only visually impaired examinees can demand writers to write their answers. The facility of writers has not been provided for the physically disabled students, he added. It may be mentioned here that a section of PU students have been agitating for the last one week for providing a writer for a physically disabled examinee from B N College.
However, the physically disabled students of PU are likely to get an opportunity to voice their demands before a mobile court to be held here on May 1 under the supervision of the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, a wing of the Government of India.
PU registrar has directed the heads of all departments and principals of colleges to furnish details of the disabled students admitted to PU since 1996 along with their grievances and steps initiated for redressal of the grievances. Meanwhile, playing a good Samaritan, PU National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers have donated a sum of Rs 12,500 from their pocket money for the treatment of a youth suffering from cancer at Pune, said NSS programme co–ordinator Rabindra Kumar.
Source: The Times of India, 19 AprilTop
New Delhi, April 18, 2007: The Delhi High Court's order to the transport authorities to register only low–floor buses in the capital has been challenged in the apex court.
On a joint petition filed by the Federation of Delhi Bus Operators and bus manufacturer TATA against the High Court's March 26 order, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union Transport Ministry, Delhi Transport Department, Delhi Traffic Police and other agencies seeking their response within two weeks.
Taking note of the recommendations of a court–appointed committee headed by Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, the High Court had directed that "all local buses by whomsoever they are running under the permit or otherwise, shall be low floor buses and only such vehicles will be registered by the authorities. This will also be a condition in the permit issued by the State Transport Authority," it had said.
Low–floor buses having bigger front screen and driver–s seat at a lower level are considered less accident–prone. The court had also taken note of the fact that the five low–floor buses introduced by the Delhi Transport Corporation in November 2005 and another one a year later never met with any accident.
However, Federation of Delhi Bus Operators– President HS Kalra told Hindustan Times that the order could not be retrospective effect. "Before the High Court order, the operators had already purchased 180 buses and these buses are not being registered now. Where do they go now? They all have taken loans from various financial institutions and are paying back the installments."
He pointed out that "the buses meet all the existing requirements under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules. Since these are CNG buses we can not sell it anywhere else."
Kalra said as on date there were no standards prescribed for low–floor buses and the Technical Standing Committee under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules was still deliberating upon it. In fact the High Court had directed the Committee to approve and notify the changes in bus body specifications within three months for medium and high capacity buses, intra–urban buses, long–distance buses and special purpose buses (school buses, sleepers and tourist buses).
In fact, one of the schools, K R Mangalam School too has challenged the High Court's order as the vehicles made by Swaraj Mazda and purchased by it on March three were not being registered.
What is low–floor bus?
Low–floor buses are in tune with the international practices and designs and are considered to be less accident–prone, as the driver sits in a sufficiently advantageous position at a lower level giving him greater visibility. It is also disabled–friendly with place for two whelchairs.
These buses have 390–mm floor height, pneumatic doors, rear engine, tubeless tyres, low driver seating, and enhanced upward and downward visibility for the driver.
Generally, buses have a body fabricated on a chassis. But the low–floor buses are chassis and body together. The DTC has already invited tenders for 625 such buses.
T'PURAM, April 18 2007: Applications have been invited for admission to blind teachers training programme being conducted at the Kottappuram Helen Keller Centenary Memorial School for the Blind in Palakkad district.
The course is jointly conducted by the Kerala Federation of the Blind in association with Rehabilitation Council of India and Dehradun–based National Institute for Visually Challenged.
The duration of the course is two years and admission will be limited to 20 persons. Those who successfully complete the course will be eligible for teachers– posts in schools for visually challenged as well as normal schools.
More details regarding the course and admission can be obtained over phone number 0471–2304831, according to a statement here on Tuesday.
NEW DELHI, 17 April: Should there be 3% reservation for handicapped in the All–
India quota Post Graduate medical seats? The Supreme Court on Monday sought the
response of the Centre to this question.
The All–India quota, which comprises 50% seats in post–graduate disciplines of all government medical colleges, was till last year filled completely on the basis of merit through an all–India entrance test.
However, in January this year, the court allowed reservations for SC and ST candidates.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishanan and Justice R V Raveendran issued notice to the Centre on the basis of an application filed by two handicapped medical students.
The applicant through counsel K K Mani stated that the Centre had enacted the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities Act, 1996, which provided that all government and aided educational institutions "shall reserve not less than 3% of seats for persons with disabilities".
The counsel said that some state governments have already implemented the Act and provided for reservation to handicapped persons, but that benefit is limited to the state–quota seats.
He requested the extension of this benefit to all–India quota seats as well
New Delhi, April 17. (PTI): As the World observes April 17 as Haemophilia Day, there is little awareness in the country about this inherited genetic disorder for which treatment is costly and difficult to get, experts say.
Over one lakh people are estimated to be affected by haemophilia or the silent killer that is inherited through a defect in the genes and causes severe bleeding even from very small cuts and injuries, says Dr Uppal Roy, one of the founding members of Haemophilia Federation of India (HFI).
In a country with one billion that works out to be one in every ten thousand people, he says. "Out of the one lakh estimated population of hemophiliacs in the country the HFI has been able to register 12,844 patients so far," says Roy who informs that the foundation has 60 centres countrywide.
Haemophilia A commonly known as classical haemophilia is the most common form and is caused due to the inability of the blood to clot properly. When a normal person is injured his blood quickly clots to prevent further loss of blood. However, this does not happen in the case of people with haemophilia. The Anti Hemophilic Factor (AHF) that produces clotting in blood is not manufactured in the country but imported from abroad. "In India the HFI is the nodal agency that negotiates the prices of drugs with manufacturer linked with the Canada–based World Federation of Hemophilia," says Roy.
"Each unit of the AHF costs Rs seven. The blood is dried and powdered and contained in a small vial and given to the bleeding person according to his body weight. So, a child weighing 20 kg needs at least 500 units to stop severe bleeding. A patient has to bear at least a cost of Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh to lead a near normal life," he says.
In order to form a blood clot the body uses several proteins and blood cells. Patients with Haemophilia A have a deficiency of clotting factor 8 and those with Haemophilia B are deficient in clotting factor 9. "Replacements of factor 8 or factor 9 made out of human blood are given to patients depending on their requirements. Apart from that if patients can provide a donor we give blood transfusions," says Dr Sumita Bhasin, Professor of Medicine, Safdarjang Hospital.
The disorder usually transfers from father to daughter who then becomes a carrier of the gene with the chance of passing it on to her children. Bhasin points out there are at least three hospitals in Delhi other than Safdarjang that gives free medicines for treating the condition.
"We provide free treatment for the poor people who come to our hospital. Obviously we are able to do so for only those patients who come to us in a critically ill condition and those who are involved in accidents and the like. For other patients we usually charge," she says. Anil Lalwani a severe haemophilia 8 patient and part of the HFI says, "There are very limited diagnostic facilities available for haemophiliacs. There is also not proper treatment available in the country."
"In HFI chapters across the country, some preliminary treatment is available," says 48–year–old Lalwani who was diagnosed with the condition when he was one–and–a–half–years old. What compounds the treatment is the fact that most haemophiliacs are not unaware that they are suffering from this disorder.
There is no specific cause for hemophilia as it is an inherited disorder. "We have the facility to check for the disorder and detect the carriers. Apart from HFIs chapters five other hospitals– AIIMS at Delhi, CMC at Vellore, KEM at Mumbai and CCMB at Hyderabad–have provisions to test and give free medicines," says Roy. "These hospitals give the factor constituent free of charge. Others like the HFI and the Lion's hospitals provide medicines at subsidised rates," says Bhasin.
Other cures apart from replacement of the AHF are under progress worldwide. "Everything is in a trial stage and nothing can be said so far," says Bhasin.
In the US and UK doctors have experimented with gene therapy to find a cure for haemophilia. In India, however, there is no such therapy.
"Even in the west the therapy has not been very successful because it was found that it was always done for severe hemophiliacs to reduce their condition from severe to moderate or mild," says Roy.
"If children affected with haemophilia are not given treatment then it can lead to disability and even death in some cases. Also since patients need frequent blood transfusions they are at the risk of contracting infections like HIV and hepatitis C virus," he says.
Paramount Films of India, Ltd announces the release of their new English movie, "SHOOTER". The unique thing about the film is that for the first time ever in India, the movie will be showcased with English Sub ? titles in theaters across the country. 'SHOOTER' staring Mark Wahlberg is slated for release in India on the 13 th April 2007.
A study has revealed that most of the viewers of Hollywood films, while watching original DVD's at home, switch on to the subtitles mode. This helps them relax and not strain trying to follow complex films. Subtitling will help viewers with hearing impaired enjoy the effects in the theaters.
Commenting on the development, Jacinto Fernandes, Marketing Manager, Paramount Films of India said, "We understand lingual disparities across the globe, and hence we are taking this one step forward to enable our viewers to get a better feel of the film. He further added "this initiative will bring in a new experience in film watching and one would not have to strain to understand the heavy accented dialogues in the movie"
Tests have shown that when language used, is displayed in text, it greatly improves comprehension, particularly when the language is second language for the audiences. Viewers who have difficulty in following heavy accents and almost inaudible dialogues will benefit with the subtitled version films.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua from a screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin, based upon the novel "Point of Impact" by Stephen Hunter. Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Rade Sherbedgia and Ned Beatty.
BHUBANESWAR, April 16 2007: The Mayurbhanj district administration has shown the way.
The State Government has decided to implement the district's initiative
called 'window of hope' for differentially abled persons who were
hitherto a neglected lot.
The project, a brainchild of Collector VK Pandian, has illuminated the lives of 6451 differentially abled persons (DAP) by enabling them to exercise their fundamental right of living a life with freedom and dignity.
A backward district like Mayurbhanj, with a very poor public transport system, makes it a nightmarish experience for a disabled person to travel long distances to get required certificates from different offices for availing benefits under various Government schemes.
The difficulties faced by the differently abled prompted Pandian to launch the 'window of hope' on a mission mode by brining all Government agencies under a single a roof for on the spot evaluation and delivery of services.
To get an income certificate, a disabled person had to apply in a prescribed format to the tehsil office. As is routine, the tehsildar directs the revenue inspector for local inquiry and after receipt of report, the income certificate is issued.
The process may take anything between a week to one month, Pandian said. For a disability certificate, the DAP has to appear in person before a medical board, which sits only twice a month at the district headquarters hospital. The certificate may be issued the same day, which very rare or many days later.
The district social officer is the nodal point for registration of the DAP and delivery of services such Government aids and appliances.
The DAP applies for an identity card along with the income and disability certificates. Aids and appliances were made available as and when funds permit.
The identity card entitles the DAP to apply for fare concession at the regional transport office (RTO) located at district headquarters and disability pension at block office. It is amply clear that the delivery system is an extremely complex and costly process which many cannot sustain, avers Pandian.
The procedures have also been simplified. Local enquiry by RI for issue of income certificate was replaced by checking land records and crosschecking with panchayat representatives present at the camp.
Instead of RTO issuing bus–fare concession card, block development officers were empowered to do the same.
More than 13,000 persons attended the camps conducted at different locations of the district and 6451 disability certificates were issued in 2005–06 alone which was more than the total certificates issued during the past five years.
Apart from Government assistance, funds were also mobilised through public–private partnership to ensure cent percent follow–up action, Pandian said.
Friday, April 13, 2007 (New Delhi)
Three per cent faculty seats in Delhi University were reserved under the
disability quota but only 30 of the 300 posts in this category were
The Delhi High Court has now said that there will be no new appointments till the empty seats in the disability quota are filled.
For five years Kedar Mandal has been navigating three flights of stairs at Dayal Singh College where he teaches Hindi.
Kedar is one of several teachers fighting a legal battle to ask for more jobs for faculty with special needs at Delhi University.
The case being heard in the High Court has resulted in 3 per cent reservation but Kedar believes that is not enough.
"I think reservations should be implemented. Lots of people do not know about the seats reserved for the community," said Kedar Mandal, Faculty member, Dayal Singh College.
But even the existing 3 per cent quota for special needs faculty has not been filled. This was a quota introduced six years ago by the Delhi High Court.
Kedar says that is hardly surprising as most colleges do not have ramps for wheelchairs. "Facilities have to be increased. Not too many colleges have toilet facilities for people with special needs. In fact most colleges do not even have ramps for those on wheelchairs".
In an attempt to solve the crisis, the Delhi High court has banned Delhi University from hiring any professors for any subject till special–needs professors are hired for all the seats reserved for them.
"We need to fill the quota quickly because our students will suffer without permanent teachers. They will then have to be recruited on an ad hoc basis," said Dr Meera Ramachandran, Principal, Gargi College.
Vikas, a political science teacher at Ramjas College, has a tough job because of the attitude on campus.
Vikas bought a laptop, which calls out notes for him, to help him in the class. But there are huge changes that the system has to make for him to be comfortable on campus.
For Vikas, something as basic as locating a book in a library can take hours.
The drastic High Court order of not recruiting any teachers to DU till the displacement quota is filled is probably justified.
Mangalore April 16: The basic facilities should be made available to the
physically disabled persons in the society, said Alva's Education
Foundation President Dr Mohan Alva.
Speaking at the inauguration of All India Banks Physically Handicapped Employees Welfare Federation and convention here on Sunday, he said the basic facilities at public institutions, educational institutions, government offices should be extended to the physically challenged. "We should think of helping the easy movement of physically disabled while constructing buildings, roads and buses." There is a need to bring physically disabled to the main streams of the society. here is a need to organise an convention of physically disabled, he added.
District–in–Charge Minister B Nagaraj Shetty said that Government is committed to the welfare of the physically disabled persons. There is a need to provide employment to the physically challenged persons so that they can lead independent life.
The JD(S)–BJP coalition government has increased the honourarium paid for the physically disabled persons from Rs 100 to Rs 500 per month. There is a need to substitute a word for the 'physically handicapped,' he added.
The government will continue to work toward the welfare of the physically disabled persons in the society, he assured.
Vijaya Bank General Manger Shyam Sundar Shetty, Sri Devi Education Trust Chairman Sadananda Shetty among others were present.
Odiyoor Seer Gurudevananda Swamiji blessed the occasion. Scholarships were distributed to 45 students, two wheelchairs and one artificial limbs were distributed to the needy on the occasion. As many as six persons were felicitated for their service to the society and handicapped persons. They include Jagannath Chowta, Mahesh R Shetty, Kalathooru Vishwanath Shetty, Muralidhara Hegde, Harish S Belchada and P Padmanbha Baliga.
MANGALORE, 16 April: "Physically handicapped do not need pension, but stable jobs which can assure them a constant flow of income.", said Dakshina Kannada District In–Charge Minister B Nagaraj Shetty.
Inaugurating the All India Banks Physically handicapped Employees Welfare Federation and its convention, Shetty said that the present JD(S)–BJP government had raised the pension of the physically disabled from Rs 100 to Rs 400, but what the government was aiming at was to provide employment opportunities to physically handicapped so that they could be self–dependent.
He also urged the society not to use terms like physiclaly handicapped as those persons must be motivated and must be made to understand their value.
"The terms like physically disabled and handicapped must not be used. They could as well be called specially abled, because they have special abilities which a normal person lacks", Shetty added.
On the ocassion, six persons were felicitated for their services to the society. Chowta Distributors proprietor Jagannatha Chowta, Mahesh Tutorials Mumbai proprietor Mahesh R Shetty, Mumbai–based Dharma Samskriti Prathishtana secretary Kulattur Vishwanath Shetty, Samuha Industries managing director Muralidhar Hegde and social worker Harish S Belchada were felicitated for their encouragement and support to the physically disabled in various ways.
In the programme, about 45 students were provided with scholarships, two were given with the wheel chairs and one person was provided with an artifical limb.
NEW DELHI: It's a breakthrough that could change the lives of millions. A team of doctors from the country's premier medical research institute, AIIMS, has broken new grounds in ophthalmology by using a single donated cornea to help three patients recover their vision.
Until now, one donated cornea was required to revive the eyesight of one patient. The latest breakthrough means the wait for cornea donors could go down significantly for the visually–impaired. In a country like India, where eye donation is still not so popular, this spells a ray of hope for lakhs of sightless people.
The AIIMS team used the cornea of a 44–year–old donor, who died of a heart attack, and sliced it to transplant its different parts into the eyes of three different patients in one day ? one of them 60 years old, another around 40, and the third a five–year–old boy.
What's more, follow–up of the three patients showed that there was no rejection ? in other words, the surgeries were 100% effective. New tissues had grown over the transplant, while their visual acuity improved greatly in just three months. After successfully testing the surgery on 20 more patients, the team has announced its feat in the latest edition of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
The team, led by professor of ophthalmology Dr J S Titiyal, an expert in cornea and refractive surgery, and his former colleague Dr Rasik Vajpayee, now based at the University of Melbourne, sliced the tissue of the cornea into three parts to replace diseased areas of three patients.
The 40–year–old–man had a diseased endothelium (deepest part of the cornea responsible for regulating fluid), while the 60–year–old man suffered from a defective corneal strome (thick transparent middle layer). The little boy had a total limbal stem cell deficiency following chemical burns in his right eye.
Vaibhav Brahmi, 9, is like any other child of his age. But, he's different too. He has to be extra careful each time he plays. Even a small bruise or jerk can cause profuse bleeding and a visit to the hospital. A hemophilic, Vaibhav's life is one of strict dos and don'ts, and a lot of uncertainty.
"We are always on tenterhooks, never knowing when he'll hurt himself and start bleeding. Every week we have to give him anti-hemophilia factor (AHF) injection, costing Rs 4,000 and available only at one hospital. The effect lasts only eight hours," says Deepali, his mom.
And on April 17, World Hemophilia Day, when he'll be part of a programme to sensitise people about his condition, Vaibhav will not be alone. But, he's one of the lucky ones who can afford a regular treatment for this rare genetic blood disorder. "The treatment, AHF injection, is not available in most hospitals, especially government ones. And even if it is, it's very expensive," says Suresh Hanagavadi, president, Hemophilia Federation of India (HFI).
"Last year, WHO included AHF in the list of essential drugs. But our government has still not woken up to the fact that it should be made available at all government hospitals free of cost," says Vijay Kaul, executive director, Society for Hemophilia Care. The Society has been responsible for setting up the firstof-its-kind hemophilia centre in a government hospital in Patna.
The unavailability of treatment and lack of adequate facilities makes hemophilia a big risk to its patients. "If a child is given the treatment right at the beginning, one can save him from a life of disability and early death," says V P Chaudhary, former head, hematology, AIIMS and director, Pahuja Centre for Blood Disorder, Sunflag Hospital.
Kolkata's Siddharth Ojha, 30, suffers from 70% disability . As a child, he wasn't able to receive regular treatment. "I would go for blood and plasma transfusion, but it wouldn't be available always. As a result, my joints have become deformed. AHF is supplied by HFI through its chapters, but the supply doesn't match the demand," he says.
By a rough estimate, there're around 80,000-1 lakh hemophilics in India. And, so far, only 12,800 have been identified. The awareness, say experts, is abysmally low and this could lead to the disease going untreated and mortality rising.
This disorder is due either to lack or low levels of a protein responsible for blood clotting. Blood transfusion is considered the only solution, but not completely safe. Many infections, particularly HIV, get transmitted in the process. AHF, an intravenous medicine and a safer option, is unfortunately, not manufactured in India and has to be imported.
"The government should make treatment available to the common man easily," says Hanagavadi. So far, Karnataka has come forward to make the factor concentrate available in a few district hospitals. Bihar, Pondicherry and J&K have also agreed to make the medicine freely available in district hospitals.
Meanwhile, Vaibhav spends his time playing a computer game. "I know I am hemophilic, so I can't take the risk of going out and getting hurt," he says. He can only hope things will change, not just for him, but for others too.
Hemophilia is a rare genetic blood disorder, affecting mainly males
There are nearly 4 lakh hemophilics worldwide
India has around 80,000-1 lakh hemophilics
10-15% patients become innocent victims of HIV
Lack of early treatment results in disabilities
Safe treatment is anti-hemophilia factor medicine, which is imported
Source:Times of India Delhi, Apr 15, 2007Top
London, Apr 14 : Researchers in Germany are developing a software that can provide more clarified vision to blind or partially blind people by refining the information sent from a bionic eye to its wearer.
Retinal implants can restore some vision to blind or partially blind people by turning light into signals transmitted to the brain. So far, about 10 people in Germany and 15 in the US have been fitted with such implants although expanded US trials are planned.
"These people report seeing light and dark and maybe some limited fuzzy shapes. But they don't have any gestalt perception," says Rolf Eckmiller, a computer scientist at Bonn University in Germany.
The new software works by refining the information sent from a bionic eye to its wearer.
Eckmiller says the secret to improving these implants is to match the signals they produce with the signals that a healthy eye sends to the brain.
One team in California, US, is trying to achieve that by building a copy of the retina's neurons in silicon.
Eckmiller, along with colleagues Oliver Baruth and Rolf Schatten, plan to use learning software instead.
In their system, a camera feeds information to a "retina encoder" – software that mimics the image processing done by a healthy retina.
The software learns the correct settings from a user through a "dialogue module" that tries different settings while a user looks at standard shapes.
The user selects the three settings that most closely match the real shape, and the software then presents six more settings based on these three. Over time, the system learns to produce a signal that provides a more accurate picture to the user's brain, reports New Scientist.
"It has hundreds of different parameters that can be properly tuned. But only one setting is appropriate to allow proper perception," says Eckmiller.
So far, trials involving more than 50 sighted people have been promising.
MANGALORE April 14: Now a days a one–rupee coin might not of any significance to many.
But for the students of Shubhodaya Vidyalaya of Vamanjoor, it can bring them 'a year of valuebased quality education.' With the commercialisation of education, access to quality education is indeed a costly affair for children belonging to labour class.
In such a scenario, 'Shubhodaya Vidyalaya' run by the Rehabilitation Centre for Physically Handicapped and Disabled (RCPHD) Trust has been providing education, mid–day meals, uniforms, books and even special coaching classes to children at a nominal fee of Re 1 per annum.
"Things that come free of cost are often not valued. To make the children know the value of education being imparted to them, a symbolic fee is being collected," says trust president M B Puranik.
To identify the number of migrant labourers and labour class dwelling in Vamanjoor region and with the need to bring their children into the portals of school, the trust started the school in 2002 with 20 children.
Today, it is the centre for learning great values for over 180 children who would have been otherwise toiling to supplement the income of their families.
The cost of running the institution is met by donations while the salary of over 15 teaching and non–teaching staff is met by the Tulunadu Education Trust.
"There is no compromise on the quality of education. The students are filled with the fire of patriotism and the Indian values of respecting family and elders," he says, and adds that the school believes in identifying and encouraging the talents in students.
Without any government aid, the children are provided with nutritious mid–day meals and evening snacks.
To reduce the burden of studies, home works are taken up by teachers during the coaching classes being held everyday after school hours.
The school will start the fifth standard this 2007. The medium of instruction till fourth standard is Kannada, while English will be introduced from the fifth standard onwards.
Mumbai: Arjun Singh's anthem of inclusive education doesn't really stop at quotas for OBCs. The Union HRD ministry has decided to extend reservations and free education to women, economically backward students and the physically challenged in professional courses.
The ministry has decided to allow all technical colleges across the country to set aside seats for women, the disabled and the poor, and to offer these sections free education in courses including engineering, MBA, MCA, pharmacy, architecture, hotel management and catering technology, and applied arts and craft.
To facilitate the implementation of these reservations, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will increase intake by 10% on a voluntary basis in technical institutions all over India. Seats will be allocated to the three groups in a 2:3:1 ratio respectively. AICTE vice chairman RA Yadav said, "The scheme has been introduced as there is an imbalance which needs to be corrected."
The increase in intake due to these quotas need not necessarily reflect an augmentation in an institution's infrastructure or faculty, officials noted. This is to ensure that these quotas can be implemented with immediate effect. "AICTE will permit 10% increase in intake on a voluntary basis subject to the condition that these seats be awarded in the ratio of 2:3:1 to meritorious women, economically weaker sections and differently abled without charging any tuition fees," Singh said.
In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) analyzed the costs and health outcomes of control and eradication options. They found that the relatively high short–term costs of global polio eradication will ultimately be much lower than the long–term financial and human health costs required to control polio forever.
Poliomyelitis, which mainly affects children, is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause inflammation of motor neurons of the brainstem and spinal cord and lead to paralysis. Although successfully eliminated in the U.S. and most of the world through the use of poliovirus vaccines, endemic wild polioviruses still continue to circulate in some countries (notably in parts of India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan). Since 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has reduced the global incidence of poliomyelitis by 99%, at a cost of more than $4 billion.
Kimberly Thompson, Associate Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science at HSPH, and Radboud Duintjer Tebbens, a research associate at HSPH, used a mathematical model to demonstrate the importance of maintaining and increasing the immunization intensity in currently endemic areas. Immunization intensity is an indication of the level of vaccination effort aimed at increasing population immunity. The authors suggest that even a relatively small decrease in intensity of immunization could lead to relatively large outbreaks. They emphasized that the world cannot let up in its vaccination efforts for polio, at least until eradication has been achieved. Comparing the numbers of expected cases and costs for 20 years into the future for a range of eradication and control options, the authors found that eradication is the best solution. For example, a control policy that relied only on routine immunization could lead to approximately 200,000 expected paralytic polio cases every year in low–income countries.
"As long as it is technically achievable, eradication offers both lower cumulative costs and cases than control in the long–term, even with the costs of achieving eradication exceeding several billion dollars more," said Thompson.
The authors note in the study that debate about eradication versus control should include careful consideration of the trade–offs of the options. "Control means high costs and low cases forever or low costs and high cases forever, but not low costs and low cases forever, which is only an option if we continue to pay high costs in the short–term until we eradicate," said Thompson.
Although the price tag of potentially additional billions of dollars to eradicate polio may sound high, the study reports that paying now is the best way to keep the overall costs as low as possible. "A wavering commitment to eradication is not a good option," said Duintjer Tebbens.
Source:http://www.medindia.net/news/view_news_main.asp, 14 AprilTop
With the automobile shaping the city, pedestrians are now an endangered species in Delhi. Cities across the world, however, are conserving space for them. A look at what can be done here
By all standards ? especially when compared to other Asian metros ? Delhi's roads are overcrowded and accidentprone. But what's most shocking is that 52% of its road accident victims are pedestrians ? a clear indication that the city is not at all thinking about them. In the name of pedestrian facilities, the government and civic bodies are building foot overbridges or subways that are badly lit and crowded with beggars. Sidewalks are fast disappearing, leaving people with little choice but to jump over dividers or sprint across roads. As experts point out, it is as if the city is being planned for cars, and pedestrians are coming in the way. While cities across the world are trying to make its roads safer for pedestrians, Delhi is pushing them above or below the ground to make traffic move faster. A look at what can be done to protect pedestrain rights:
Define pedestrian There is a need to define the term "pedestrian". The problem with our planning, experts say, is that civic bodies do not have the real numbers. Dr Geetam Tiwari of IIT–Delhi's Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP) says: "Even a person travelling in a bus is a pedestrian because he walks to the bus stop. We do not somehow consider him a pedestrian." A look at real numbers shows that a majority ? over 70% of people ? is pedestrians. This makes it imperative for the government to protect them through special facilities or legislations.
Need for a Master Plan
Cities in the US, like Portland, have developed a "Master Plan for Pedestrians and Bicycle Users". This policy document governs a cities projects for pedestrians and serves as a guide for financial investment. Just like a Master Plan for any city, this helps in setting aims for the administration.
Most European cities have declared certain streets as "pedestrian only". Copenhagen, for instance, has developed street–side cafes for people in streets that have a number of markets. The administration changed the traffic flow and made them exclusive to pedestrians after these streets witnessed a series of accidents. Delhi can take up this model by declaring markets or plazas as pedestrian–only.
One of the biggest problems is lack of awareness among motorists in Delhi. Says Dr Nishi Mittal, senior scientist at Central Road Research Institute's (CRRI) traffic engineering and safety division: "We have not been able to inculcate the basic respect for pedestrian rights in motorists. People just do not allow pedestrians to cross. In many of our surveys, we have found that people are not even aware of the concept of zebra crossings. The stop line norm is hardly followed. There is an urgent need to start awareness campaigns on pedestrian rights."
The government's policy is increasingly shifting focus from on–surface pedestrian and zebra crossings to FOBs and subways. Says Dr Tiwari: "The solution is not in FOBs or subways. These sometimes inconvenience pedestrians. Pedestrians should be kept at grade as much as possible by making pedestrian crossings."
Stiff penalties for accidents
This can go a long way in discouraging motorists from driving rashly. In Singapore, for instance, a driver's license is cancelled if he injures a pedestrian.
Guiding the disabled people
The civic bodies need to ensure that a walk to the bus stop is barrier–free. It should plan its sidewalks accordingly and go for audible pedestrain traffic signals. In London, the pedestrian light gives out a loud beep on turning green to help the visually–impaired cross the road. There are tactile strips as well to guide them.
As Dr Mittal says: "This would not only protect pedestrians, but also help punish errant road users who try to jump and run across roads. At present, there is the Motor Vehicles Act, which is for any offence pertaining to traffic. If at all there are any other offences, the Traffic Regulation Act is enforced. But there is no separate legislation for pedestrians."
MONEY TALK Govt is spending crores on flyovers, but experts say, these have hardly reduced congestion. This is what the city can do for pedestrians, says Dr Geetam Tiwari of TRIPP, if it can forego just one flyover that costs Rs 350–500 cr (depending on the length and existence of clover leaves) Rs 1 cr/km for pedestrian facilities (length of PWD roads is 375 km and one less flyover could mean using Rs 500 cr for this) Over 700 new lowfloor buses (costs around Rs 70 lakh), adding to the fleet of DTC. This would mean fewer vehicles on roads and less congestion, making the roads safer More pedestrian crossings by just installing traffic signals that cost a couple of thousands of rupees
Source:Times of India 13th AprilTop
Nagpur/Wardha, 13 April, The biggest challenge before the society is the integration of leprosy cured persons into the society's mainstream. Post–cure, a large number of leprosy affected patients continue to live below poverty line, said vice–president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
Shekhawat was speaking after presenting the International Gandhi Award for Eradication of Leprosy–2006 to Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa at a function organised by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation at Wardha on Thursday.
Shekhawat said, "People affected with leprosy have no access to basic amenities like education, health care, shelter and are denied their fundamental right to live with dignity. If we provide tangible facilities and support systems to leprosy–cured persons, they too can lead a life with dignity." Sasakawa is a campaigner for eradication of leprosy and rehabilitation of people affected by the dreaded and one of the oldest diseases. Sasakawa, a WHO goodwill ambassador for eradication of leprosy, draws his inspiration from the endeavours and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and Baba Amte to serve people with leprosy.
Since decades, Sasakawa isworking for the treatment of leprosy patients, creating an awareness among the people and dispelling myths in regards with the disease and those suffering from it. Now, with the help of world leaders, he has launched a drive to convince the society in general to accept people with leprosy as equal citizens and remove any stigma attached with such people.
Shekhawat said, "Mahatma Gandhi always endeavoured to integrate the leprosy–affected persons into the mainstream. One may recall, Gandhi personally tended Sanskrit scholar Parchure Shastri, who was affected by leprosy, and set the highest example of true compassion and service." Quoting Gandhi, he said, "Leprosy work is not merely a medical relief; it is transforming frustration of life into joy of dedication, personal ambition into selfless service" and congratulated Sasakawa for his laudable efforts. Sasakawa added, "From eliminating leprosy as a public health problem, we are moving towards eradicating the disease altogether. But leprosy has another aspect, a social aspect, we still have a long way to go before the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease have been irradicated."
Citing Gandhi's thoughts over the issue, Sasakawa said, "The disease of the mind is more dangerous than physical disease. Where there is purity of minds, physical diseases will disappear on their own. Therefore, we must make all efforts to get rid of the 'disease of the mind' that afflicts people affected by leprosy."
The Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation was founded in 1951 to perpetuate Gandhian scientific approach towards leprosy. It aims to hold community–bsased health services through rural and urban projects for leprosy elimination; making a provision of the services of prevention of disability and worsening of the disabilities by enabling leprosy–affected people using self–care practices; to offer socio–economic rehabilitation services of such people etc.
Wardha district guardian minister Vasant Purke, Kasturba Health Society chairman Dhirubhai Mehta, divisional commissioner Anand Limaye, district collector Eknath Khobragade, district superintendent of police T B Deotale and a large number of people attended the function.
Source: Times of India Nagpur, Apr 13 2007Top
Mumbai: For the first time ever, a city college took cognizance of a student's psychological disorder during exams and gave him the necessary concession. Twentythree–year–old Shekhar (name changed), a student of MVLU College, Andheri, was allowed to sit all by himself in a separate room for the TYBSc examinations because he suffered from agoraphobia, or panic attacks, when sitting in a packed classroom.
Shekhar lost three years of study due to the disorder. ";I started getting anxiety attacks while studying in an engineering college in Chiplun. I had never faced the problem before," he said.
Whenever he was seated in an exam hall packed with other students he got a panic attack. His heart rate went up and he broke into a sweat. The boy was unable to write the exam and would leave in two minutes. ";The worst part was that I didn't know what was wrong with me. My parents thought it was an excuse for not studying hard as I stayed away from home," he said.
After repeatedly failing in exams, Shekhar realised engineering was not his cup of tea. He thought the problem was caused by stress and returned to Mumbai to do a BSc in physics, which he thought he would be able to handle. But the problem persisted. The boy had panic attacks during lectures in crowded classrooms, buses and even a movie hall. He missed lectures and only attended classes where there weren't too many students. Shekhar failed twice in engineering and once in degree college. ";I scraped through my first and second year BSc by chewing on my pen during exams to beat the stress," he said. The boy fared better in the Allowed To Keep Term exams, held for repeaters, as there were fewer people in the room.
Shekhar finally decided to take psychiatric help. For the last six months he is being treated by Dr Harish Shetty, president of the Counsellors Association of India.
On Shetty's insistence, he applied for a medical certificate from JJ Hospital. Recognising the disorder, the hospital issued a certificate after which the principal of MVLU College, HS Naik, took into consideration his disability and gave permission to appear in the TYBSc exams in a separate room.
The exams began in the first week of March and will continue till April 11. Shekhar has had no problems writing the papers. ";This is the first time a college has taken mental health into consideration during exams," said Shetty. Agoraphobia is caused by chemical imbalance and the symptoms include heart palpitation, chest pain and a feeling of impending doom.
Source: Times of India, Mumbai, 9 AprilTop
New Delhi, 12 April: The Court of the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities has stayed the Railway Board's move to scrap the scheme under which the disabled had been allotted telephone booths across the country.
Issuing a show cause notice to the Railway Board, the court has asked the Board to reply within a month why the scheme should not be continued. The notice added that meanwhile the existing telephone booth allottees with disabilities shall not be displaced and deprived of their livelihoods.
In 1981, the International Year of the Disabled, the central government had started a scheme to rehabilitate the disabled. About 10,000 disabled persons across the country were provided telephone booths.
The agreement ends on April 27. But the Railway Board has no intention of renewing the licences of the owners. In the wake of the Railway Ministry refusing to extend the scheme, the disabled running the booths have been an anxious lot.
Says Vineet Sharma, "Many of us are sole breadwinners of the family. The decision of not renewing our licences will deprive us of our monthly earnings."
Sharma runs the telephone booth outside the New Delhi Railway Station on the Ajmeri Gate side. He has four employees in a single telephone booth having six lines. And it is almost always crowded with people queuing up to make calls. While New Delhi Railway Station has six telephone booths run by the disabled, the total number of such booths in the city is 45.
Ashok Sharma, who has four dependants in the family, operates from Tilak Bridge Railway Station. He is as unsure of his future as Tirlochan Singh Bhatia, who is the President of Viklang's Phone Booth Holder's Association of the Northern Railways.
In his late forties, Singh is unable to think of an alternative. A booth owner at Paharganj Railway Station said, "We are paying 10 per cent of our earnings to the railways, which was not mentioned in the agreement at the time of the allotment of the booths. But now they are asking for more. They are bent upon cancelling our allotments and want to run the booths themselves to earn profits."
Even as the disabled said that they were seeing their world crashing in front of their eyes, an official in the railway ministry remarked, "These people are sitting on gold mines and are not agreeable to share the profits with the railways. Although they claim that their monthly earning is not more than Rs 5,000, their lavish lifestyles and flashy mobile phones speak a different story."
Statistics: Number of disabled rise up to 60m
1–The approximate number of disabled in India counted in Census 2001 was 22 million.
2–Disability activists claim the figure is closer to 60 million.
3–The mandatory 3 per cent quota in government jobs for disabled is yet to be filled.
4–In the private sector, the figure is less than 1 per cent.
Despite the growing incidence of autism, there is very little awareness on this developmental disability affecting 3–4 children in every 1,000 born in the country today.
Autism is resource–intensive, calling for regular evaluation to track development, but lack of trained manpower is putting services on hold.
For 20 minutes, two–and–a–half–year–old Aniruddha was screaming in pain as his mother, Hemamalini, frantically searched his body for possible ant bites or bruises. She hadn't looked behind his knees, severely burnt by the silencer of a motorcycle. "That was when I realised my son didn't point and tell where he was hurting," she says. "He simply couldn't." Aniruddha was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disorder that affects the brain in the areas of language and social skills, imagination and activity. People with autism avoid eye contact, have difficulty in expressing needs, will start to speak well and then completely forget language, repeat an activity many times over or, like Aniruddha, have no `joint attention', which means that they cannot point to tell. Typically, autism appears in the first three years of birth and is difficult to identify.
People with autism have no particular `look' or behaviour, making early diagnosis impossible without awareness. In India, there are more people living with autism than, say, Down's Syndrome. More are being born with the disability. "From one in 10,000 children ten years ago, the prevalence is 3–4 per 1,000 live births now," says Mythili Chari, Founder–Director of the Institute for Remedial Intervention Service (IRIS) and member of the Expert Committee (Mental Retardation) under the Rehabilitation Council of India. "Luckily, autism is increasing," Mythili adds wryly. "Those who dismissed it as a low–incidence disorder are now being forced to sit up and take notice."
According to estimates, over 20 lakh people are living with autism in India. WHO puts the global prevalence at 1 in 500. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. Every year, the National Institute of Mental Health, Secunderabad, registers approximately 100–125 new cases, much higher compared to five years ago, says its Director, L. Govinda Rao.
Yet the disability has hardly received research attention, funding or efforts to create public awareness. The situation is worsened because of the stigma attached. Autism is often mistaken for mental retardation and hyperactivity. Many parents prefer to ignore symptoms than accept that their child needs help. Others make an effort but end up with a wrong diagnosis as doctors put them through the rigmarole of CT scans and MRIs, speech therapists and psychologists. Some parents simply don't know what to make of their child, termed everything from troublesome' to `stupid'. Ankit, 10, would hang from the curtains in his living room for hours together, while Sandhya would flap her hands continually and Nirmal would endlessly stack up toy blocks. "It's not that people with autism don't care, they work on different triggers and can be taught to change," says Shyama, a special education teacher working in Rishikesh.
An understanding environment has been shown to produce encouraging results among such children. When 10–year–old Neelkanth joined a centre for autism in Bangalore two years ago, he would run around class for hours, and could not sit to study. Today, he is doing well in Mathematics and Science and has taken a tremendous liking to yoga. He even teaches his mother and sister some asanas. People with autism can do well in academics and at work that suits their need for routine–based activity but there's almost nothing being done to address this factor, say social and health experts. "Their cognition is deep but they cannot express what they feel," explains Indu Chaswal, a mother of two children with autism, and Education Director of Delhi–based Action for Autism. "Intervention helps bring out their true potential."
After 30 years of study, causes for autism are still being debated. Many experiments have pointed to the genetic link, environmental factors such as toxin levels in the blood, mercury due to vaccines, and pesticides. Health experts say the increasing incidence could be a direct result of greater awareness as well as recognising the condition as a spectrum disorder. Whatever the causes, autism, the third most common developmental disorder, is also one of the most misunderstood medical illnesses. It was only in the 1960s that the world began to identify symptoms specific to the disability. For decades earlier, autism was mistaken for adult schizophrenia, psychotic behaviour or some form of mental retardation.
In India, a concrete beginning was made in 1991, when Merry Barua formed Action for Autism in Delhi, the first exclusive centre for children with autism. Earlier, the children were put in schools for the mentally retarded though the two disabilities needed different treatments. The 1990s was a decade of change both in mindsets and policy framework. The Rehabilitation Council of India Act (1992), the Persons With Disability Act (1995) and the National Trust Act for persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, MR and Multiple Disabilities (1999) came with a mandate for early intervention programmes, training of schoolteachers and professionals in Rehabilitation and Special Education.
As more people trained to work with autism, more children were identified. Like 11–year–old Deepak, who was sent out of regular school, as none was willing to make the extra effort to teach him though he was a bright child. Today, Deepak is at a craft class at the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre for Children, one of India's first schools for children with learning disability, dyslexia, autism and other disabilities, making a flower pattern using colourful sequins. Is he happy here? "Yes," he says cheerfully. Deepak is among the lucky few. Many others like him get a raw deal due to lack of services and manpower, financial lag, poor empowerment of stakeholders and general apathy. "We are losing out on a large number of children who can be mainstreamed in schools as we are not making a conscious effort to be a little more accommodating," says Jayashree Ramesh, founder of ASHA India Autism Forum in Bangalore. Training centres focus to make independent those with more severe forms of autism. "A for apple is rote of no use to them. We teach them how to behave in a bank, supermarket, theatre or beach; how to wait at a restaurant, in a queue or at the bus–stop," says Hemamalini. But such centres don't have resources to stretch services. "It's sad to say `No' to parents but taking in more will not help any of them," says Gita Srikanth, who along with Hemamalini runs We CAN, a centre for autism in Chennai.
Services beyond reach
Autism is resource–intensive, calling for regular evaluation to track development, but lack of trained manpower is putting services on hold. There are about 25,000 Special Educators in India today, but in the curriculum used in their training autism was just a cursory mention. B.Ed programmes have no paper on autism. Rehabilitation Council of India's diploma course in autism is offered only in a few cities and Disability Management is not in medical courseware.
Dr Shoba Srinath, Professor of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, with a special interest in autism, says that when for tuberculosis there are two–three medication options, much more needs to be done for autism, which calls for a multi–disciplinary approach. There's so much more to be done." Today, about 200 organisations/schools cater to children with autism in India, most of which are NGOs and parent–run centres. But there are thousands of parents outside its fold, craving to help their child but with services simply beyond their reach. When they do access, parents shell out anything from Rs 20,000–30,000 a year to train and educate the child exorbitant for the poor. The plight of those in rural India is anybody's guess. Girls there are worse off. Forget education, many are pushed into marriage for fear of losing out on a prospective groom. Timely treatment is only one worry. "The biggest issue is protecting the person with autism and other disabilities when the parents are gone. There are no guidelines now," says Indrani Basu, Founder, Autism Society of West Bengal.
Parents also have to deal with a double–edged emotional sword as they go through anger, sadness, denial and guilt, and have to find the strength to look after their child as well. "They don't suddenly come out of it. When they see other children getting married, or going to school, it hits them that their child can't. That's why more than professional counsellors, other parents can be a great source of comfort for them," says Mythili. As fears are addressed and policies questioned, there's more aggressive initiatives for change from service organisations, NGOs, parents groups and a fraction of the teacher–community. `It is autism that truly defines their personality', they say, `so it's time we understand'. There are awareness workshops, seminars and national conferences being organised and more work with schools, Government hospitals and parent–organisations.
More doctors are aware of autism, enabling early referrals, and schools are being urged to be considerate to children with autism. "Awareness is bringing people together," says Poonam Natarajan, Chairperson, National Trust. "A lot of information dissemination is taking place because of it now."
Meanwhile, Aniruddha's life is changing. The 11–year–old can speak single sentences to express what he wants, and is receptive to what others say. He combines signs with language to articulate more complex sentences. Absolutely new situations catch him off guard but he is comfortable to the extent of greeting strangers. He now asks for help when he has a headache or wants a massage. And, he can point and tell.
The way forward...
The Autism Society of India was formed in May last year to mobilise support from the Government, teachers, NGOs, parents and volunteers. The organisation has submitted a draft proposal to the President, seeking rights for children with autism and their family and for safeguarding these rights. The proposal was accepted by the President and is now with the Ministry of Welfare.
The society is currently on a signature campaign to gather support for inclusion of autism in the People With Disability Act, which will enable everything from job reservation to special insurance schemes for them. "Hope by this year it comes through," says Mythili Chari, who's working for the changes. Chennai, with better awareness on the issue, is now reaching out to rural and semi–urban Tamil Nadu. We CAN, together with Real Image Media Technologies, decided to use star actor–couple Suriya and Jyotika in a one–minute documentary on autism. In February, the film ran in 138 theatres across the State and appeared for two weeks on Vijay TV in March. We CAN received over 120 calls as a result, most of them from smaller towns. Of these, 20 parents attended a one–day awareness workshop in Tamil this month and the word is spreading.
National Trust is currently working on tools to identify autism, to be eventually used by doctors, teachers, health providers, parents and NGOs. "We have worked out indicators and it's being field–tested now. It should be ready by August–September," says Poonam Natarajan, Chairperson, National Trust.
The trust plans to form a team of therapists, psychologists and special educators in child development clinics and is field–testing the idea in four government hospitals. It is also taking on issues of inclusive education, legal guardianship, sensitisation of collectors and its six–month–old residential home concept (there are 76 such homes across India). The trust is working on streamlining availability of the Disability Card as parents are currently forced to identify their child as `mentally retarded' to avail of concessions. Not to be left behind, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics is getting its act together. Part of its Vision 2007 blueprint is a ready–reckoner on autism. "We have nearly 16,000 members and influence another 16,000 paediatricians and medical practitioners in the country. As a first step, we plan to identity paediatricians who are interested in autism. We also hope to conduct zonal workshops to familiarise them with early identification, rehabilitation and turning them into Master Trainers," says Naveen Thacker, President, Indian Academy of Paediatrics.
Many individuals and organisations are showing through their work that a person with autism will better integrate into society with structured education, perceptive teachers and constant motivation. Merry Barua's son Neeraj, 25, and Indu Chaswal's 16–year–old daughter, Vrinda, are in Action for Autism's work–skills training division, and benefiting from such training. "Now, our children are very independent, and happy. Their vocational skills have improved and they can manage on their own even when we go outstation for workshops. A place with a routine is helping them tremendously. There is dignity in their life now," says Indu.
CHANDIGARH, 11 April 2007: The Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday
issued instructions to Social Security Department to make arrangements
to clear the Backlog of 3 % Quota in services for disabled persons at
Instructions to this effect were issued when certain disabled youth complained regarding non advertisement of posts by various Departments for disabled youth in the Sangat Darshan held here today. The Chief Minister said that Department should give due publicity to this so that most of the disabled youth could apply for these posts.
An official spokesman said that hundreds of aggrieved people thronged Punjab Bhawan to meet Parkash Singh Badal in quest for justice which was denied to them since last 5 years.
The Chief Minister said that the people with judicial and quasi–judicial matters should not come to Sangat Darshan as he would not interfere in judicial matters. He said that similarly employees should air their grievances and request for transfers to there head of Departments for appropriate action. He said that Sangat Darshan was meant only for common public who could not get justice through normal administrative channels.
The Chief Minister asked local Government Department to submit a report within two days regarding a complaint by a resident of Jullundhar regarding construction by a builder in a residential area allegedly being done without getting change of land used approved.
In a case where a couple lost their son due to negligence of a private hospital, S.S.P Jalandhar was asked to submit a report within two days regarding counter F.I. R against the complainants by private hospital allegedly registered to pressurize the couple to withdraw complaint against hospital.
The Chief Minister sanctioned a grant of Rs. 50000/– to a five year old boy Master Ketan of Abohar who was suffering from Cancer. Similarly another Rs. 50000/– were sanctioned to the heart patient Buta Singh from Barnala. A delegation of Punjab Subordinate Services Federation met the Chief Minister and requested that all employees should be paid pension according to old pension formula and teachers should not be deputed for non academic duties.
Twenty–year–old Ekta Rangani walked down the ramp in a designer saree, swaying to the beat of a pop tune and giving no indication of her visual impairment.
Ekta and 30 other participants from across Gujarat participated in the country's first beauty and fashion show for the visually impaired held on Sunday morning in Surendranagar town, 112 km from Ahmedabad.
"This is the first time that a fashion show of this nature is being organised in India wherein the models and their groomers are all visually impaired. Only the choreographer is sighted and she guides the models," Muktaben, who heads the NGO Pragna Chakshu Mahila Seva Kunj that organised the event, said.
She added it was a major challenge to organise the beauty contest due to "inexperience in the field" but the NGO was happy to get an overwhelming response from across the state.
"It was tough initially to wear the clothes and to walk to the beat of music. But the choreographer has been very patient and we enjoyed it," Ekta said.
Every effort will be made to make buildings of all existing educational institutions schools, colleges and universities barrier–free, so as to provide full access to disabled students, latest by the end of the XI Plan. Also, all new buildings will be constructed so as to be barrier–free, differentially–abled friendly, eco–friendly and energy–efficient.
Press Release, Press Information Bureau (PIB), India Click Here for full document
Pune: A lecturer in the department of Law at the University of Pune (UoP), S.S. Jain, whose appointment two years ago generated interest because he is visually impaired, has protested against termination of his services by the university.
Addressing a news conference here on Monday, Jain alleged that the UoP gave him a letter on April 4 informing him that his probation would be terminated with effect from April 11. He said that the university had not followed proper procedure.
The UoP authorities, on their part, stated that due process was followed and Jain's services were terminated only after proper assessment was done by competent persons.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the Pune Blind Men's Association (PBMA) have also thrown their weight behind Jain and have threatened to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court to highlight what they termed as "injustice done to a visually impaired but capable faculty member by the UoP".
They also highlighted the university 's alleged non–implementation of government rules and regulations regarding three per cent reservation in official posts for the physically disabled and lack of facilities in the premises for the convenience of such persons".
Jain has eight years experience as a lecturer in the law department at the Aurangabad–based M.P. Law college. He is a winner of the President of India's medal for excellence and had the joined UoP for a two–year probationary period from April 13, 2005.
According to Jain, the UoP kept him in the dark regarding its decision and the expert committee's report which looked into his service evaluation. "They did not even inform me about its composition," Jain said.
Jain was called for a meeting with UoP vice chancellor Narendra Jadhav on April 2. "The V–C informed me that though he appreciated my work, he was unable to retain me as a 'confidential report' by the head of the law department contained adverse remarks about me," Jain said.
Among the factors cited against Jain is his lack of control over his students and class, his inability to stop malpractice during oral exams, and his lack of contribution in the department's administrative duties. "The charges are totally supercilious," Jain said.
Following this, the UoP sent him a one–sentence letter on April 4, informing Jain about the termination of his probation with effect from April 11. "This is a total violation of the code of conduct. If my service is terminated then the university has to inform me about the reasons in writing," Jain said.
C Narendra Jadhav was not available for comment as he was out of the country. UoP registrar D.D. Deshmukh, admitted that Jain's service has been terminated, but only after proper assessment.
"I do not want to comment on his merit or his personal relationship with the HoD or other faculty members. But during or after completion of probation, a faculty member's service can be terminated," he said.
Source:Times of India Apr 11, 2007Top
Chennai, April 10: Ramps would be made compulsory in all new government
buildings and those of private institutions in Tamil Nadu to ensure
barrier–free environment for the disabled, State Social Welfare Minister A Poongothai told the state Assembly today.
Replying to the discussion on demands for grants for her ministry, she said the income ceiling for providing financial assistance to those marrying disabled persons would be removed.
The anganwadi centres in Tamil Nadu would be named 'Kuzhandhaigal Maiyam' and 4,707 new centres would be set up, she said, adding the timings for anganwadi workers would be reduced by one hour and now it would be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to the 16 old age homes receiving government assistance of Rs 2 lakh per year, 15 more homes would be given assistance from this year.
The Minister said the cradle baby scheme, introduced by the AIADMK government, was only a stopgap arrangement and only women's education would stop female infanticide.
Parents could leave their unwanted female child in a cradle kept in social welfare offices and government hospitals and the government would take care of the child, as per the cradle baby scheme.
Six more shelter homes for street children would be started this year, the minister added.
A visually impaired trainer helps her blind students find independence though computer training You can't give sight to the blind. But with computer training you can get them close. Sriram Narayanan
Fourteen years ago, when Gangadas Chiluka boarded the train to work, he had no idea it would turn his life upside down. He fell from the train and lost his eyesight. Now, at 56, he is a sales executive for the National Association of Blind's industrial unit in Ambernath, which manufactures office stationary .
But losing his eyesight "opened my mind to new things," he says, tapping away at a computer at the Muncherjee Nowrojee Banajee Industrial Home for the Blind. As he tries to find his way about Microsoft Excel, a firm voice asks him, "Gangadasji, what are you doing? "That voice belongs to Tanya Balsara. With her slight frame and bright features it's easy to mistake her for a teenager. But she's 27, and visually impaired like the people she teaches. Though that does not get in the way of her keeping track of her six students.
But the room is quite a cacophony of sounds. Balsara's students rely on voice software to read out everything on their monitors. With each of her wards inserting cells, deleting rows and adding columns in Excel at their own pace, and speakers voicing each PC's own actions, Balsara's work isn't exactly a cakewalk. But she's been teaching the computer classes since they began on January 16 last year and loving it.
Balsara is excited about the MS–CIT certification that the Maharashtra government gave the course last month, since it means she can train her students in Access, PowerPoint, Frontpage and Outlook, besides the usual Windows, Word, Excel and Internet.
"They can easily secure a government job on the basis of their computer skills alone," she explains after class is over. As you talk to her you realise there is a big difference between Tanya the individual and Tanya the teacher.
The teacher is firm with her students and attentive to their concerns. But that doesn't mean they'll be let off lightly if they mess up. "I do crack jokes and chat with my students. But I want them to pass and get good jobs. So if it means drawing a line in the student–teacher relationship, I will," Balsara says.
The individual loves music, listens to the radio even in the shower and almost became an RJ. She's addicted to cola and the company of people. In fact, that's the reason she didn't become an RJ:
"After my graduation in Sociology and a course on Announcing Broadcasting Compering and Dubbing at the Xavier's Institute of Communication, I wanted to be an RJ. But the prospect of talking into a microphone in an empty room gave me the creeps." But despite her disability Balsara con , siders herself fortunate. She lives in a spacious house in Jogeshwari's Malcolm Baug and thanks god for letting her grow up among very understanding people, both family and friends.
Her mother, Homi Balsara,says she was devastated when she realised that Balsara was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa. "It's only now that I have accepted the fact that there is no cure," she says. "But, we're thankful that Tanya's other senses are sharper than other people, especially her memory. That's why she managed a first class right through school and college." In fact, her father Sam Balsara, who heads an advertising agency was deter , mined that his daughter would attend a regular school and college. And even now, the couple's only regret is that they were over – protective of their daughter.
"I have been asking her to take mobility sessions for the last ten years," says Sam. Balsara resisted since she was hesitant to walk with a stick. But two weeks back, she realised she wanted to be independent and called her father in the middle of a meeting to tell him she would start taking the lessons. Two weeks later, she's learning to make her way around by her self, using her stick, and enjoying her new–found freedom.
Sam says Balsara is a ray of sunshine in his life: "Working in the media means no two days are the same and there's enough to put me off. But when I come home and see Tanya cheerful think that if a blind girl can have such a disposition, what am I feeling down about?" As far as her students are concerned, Balsara's impairment is an advantage: "The fact that she is blind makes her the best computer trainer we could have," says Nakul, her student Balsara herself is happy with the way things are. She's glad that her parents have never brought up the marriage topic and wishes to continue with her classes. "Computers have opened an entirely new world for me and my students. It is like a semblance of sight in an otherwise dark world. You can't give sight to the blind. But computer training can get them close." email@example.com The Muncherjee Nowrojee Banajee Industrial Home for the Blind was established on July 16, 1956. This non–governmental organisation has a workshop that trains the blind in everything from weaving, caning, lighting to carpentry, candle–making and now, computers. The institute aims to make its students selfreliant in four years. You can contact the institute at 26791487 or 26793688.
Source:Hindustan Times, 10 April 2007Top
Hindustan Times News Impact: "DISCONNECTED – Railways pull chain on disabled people", 7 April
NEW DELHI, 9 April, THOUSANDS OF disabled people who run phone booths at railway stations across the country can breathe easy for the time being. Taking cognisance of the Hindustan Times report on April 7 of their possible displacement, the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities on Monday stayed the Railways move to scrap the scheme under which the disabled had been allotted the booths.
The HT report, Railways pull the chain on disabled, had highlighted the plight of the disabled phone–booth owners, for some of whom their booths were their only source of livelihood. The court issued a show cause notice to the Railway Board, asking it to reply within 30 days why the scheme should not be continued. The notice added: "In the meantime, the existing allottees, with disabilities, of the telephone booths etc. under the scheme shall not be displaced and deprived of their livelihood. "
Source:Hindustan Times, 10 April 2007Top
Nagpur: Megha Suhas Kale is an activist, an entrepreneur and an amateur journalist. The 43year-old runs a unique petrol pump, all with the help of disabled people. Disabled person herself, Kale has made it her life's mission to demonstrate to the world that disability need not hinder people from taking control of their lives. She wants to make both, the abled and the disabled, aware that that there is no job they cannot handle. Helping her in her cause is her husband Suhas, who too is disabled person. Suhas is currently the general manager of the state run disabled Corporation in Mumbai.
Megha applied for a petrol pump of Bharat Petroleum at Nagpur to give herself a chance to translate her vision for the disabled people into reality Running a petrol pump needs a lot of money The Kales sold a major portion of their agricultural land and borrowed from a cooperative bank for the pump. She employed 10 disabled people. Her manager is only able person in her pump, who liaisons with government departments and customers. Three of her staff are girls all from poor financial backgrounds. Megha says she wants to instill in the girls the belief that they are not parasites and can financially support their families. And despite it being a taxing job, her colleagues have not let her down. Customers have regularly appreciated their service, proffered with a smile. As secretary of the National disabled Development Corporation, Megha also edits the Apanga Smruti, a Marathi weekly She has led several agitations and morchas for the rights of physically disabled people in the country, particularly in Maharashtra.
Source:Hindustan Times, 10 April 2007Top
Can and Able:"I CAN ONLY LOOK FOR JOBS WITHIN ANDHERI, SINCE I CAN'T TRAVEL FAR. AND BUILDINGS HERE RARELY ALLOW WHEELCHAIR ACCESS." Mohini Sharma, Disabled student.
We may have become more sensitised to their plight, but much needs to be done before the city can call itself disabled–friendly
Mumbai: MOHINI SHARMA can finally leave her home. It's still going to be on a wheelchair, but now at least she'll be able to take her TYBCOM exams something that had become impossible after her neighbours at Sai Srishti housing society in Andheri decided to demolish the ramp at the entrance of the building. As a patient of spinal muscular atrophy that ramp was her only lifeline to the , outside world. "They thought it made the building look like a hospital," says Sharma. When the demolition resulted in a media maelstrom, and the police entered the picture, her building society relented. But here's the catch: they're making her family pay for a carpet to 'beautify' the entrance that has been defiled by a ramp.
Down the road, at InOrbit Mall in Malad, the facilities for the disabled easily match international standards. There is a cordonedoff parking lot for disabled drivers and its right near the entrance, where there is also a ramp with handrails. Each doorway is wider than three feet to allow for wheelchairs; there are disabled toilets on each floor and disabled –friendly changing rooms in stores. Four theatres in the multiplex have allocated spaces for the wheelchair–bound, along with ramps leading up to the entrances.
Paradoxically though, Sharma can't even get to InOrbit mall the railways may have a separate compartment for the disabled but there's no way she can reach it on her own. The gap between the station floor and the carriage is too big and there's no ramp for her to wheel herself in. It's because of this that Sharma is studying from home her middle–class family can't afford a taxi to college every morning. It's also the reason she doesn't have a job. "I can only look for jobs within Andheri, since I can't travel far. And buildings here rarely allow wheelchair access" she says. For the 100 million Indians living with disabilities, this is a reality they're faced with every day Even as the country rushes to be come a "global superpower", disability friendly facilities and design are on no one's agenda. Poor public transport coupled with little government support and a largely indifferent private sector, means that a disabled person must primarily rely on himself and others like him for help and support.
Yet, experts say that things are slowly changing. The High Court had passed a judgment asking for all government buildings to be made accessible by 2005. It even made its own building disabled–friendly after activists fought for election booths to be made accessible in 2004. MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority) has made it mandatory for all buildings within its jurisdiction to be disabled–friendly ;quot;Awareness is growing because people are . no longer afraid of the stigma. They're willing to go out and work and fight for their rights," says Sunita Sancheti, 37, the Access Head of ADAPT (Able Disabled People Together), an NGO that works for the disabled.
Some of these judgments have made a tangible difference: the RBI's newlyndash;launched Monetary Museum has a specially designed lift for the disabled; NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) is planning to make its building ac cessible, as is the GPO (General Post Office); the new airport has been designed to allow for access for the disabled; and BEST has launched a fleet of 30 low–floor, disabledfriendly buses.
But these are rare examples of government initiative. quot;The HC may be sensitive but it doesn't translate into action at the grassroots level. Architects and law students need to be sensitised to the needs of the disabled. Plus, building byelaws need to be amended, and punitive action constituted against those who flout the rules. Right now people can get away with murder," says disability–rights activist Nilesh Singit. And in dense Mumbai, lack of space often becomes a roadblock against disabled–friendly design. "People need to think out of the box," says Singit.
Unsurprisingly then, most of the existing facilities for disabled people are due to the philanthropy and inventiveness of a few individuals. There are those like Fernando Rodericks, who works tirelessly to make cars accessible for the disabled, and Arun Sabnis who launched the city's first disabled–friendly cab service, and plans to introduce a courier service too. "Government projects have so much red tape that I prefer to get the funding and initiate the projects myself," says Abhishek Ray, an architect who runs the Disability Rights and Design Organisation.
And yet, what is most shocking is that disabled friendly design, especially for buildings, is just a matter of a little more thought. Often only cost;ndash;effective, small;ndash;scale solutions are required to make a huge difference ? like wider doorways, ramps and large signage for the hearing and vision impaired. "The additional cost isn't much at all. Sometimes you just need to give a little bit more space, as in the case of disabled–friendly toilets," says Madhuri Khandurkar, a Senior Architect with K Raheja Corp, which has, in addition to InOrbit, also made Shoppers Stop disabled–friendly .
With India's increasing visibility in the global marketplace, experts say that disability–friendliness will become a matter of rising concern. Especially since tourism is set to become a huge money–spinner for the government. "Hotels will want to become disabled–friendly because of huge nusmbers of foreign tourists. Medical tourism will also force places to become more accessible," predicts Sancheti. Already, the Ministry of Tourism has begun to make national monuments like the Taj Mahal more disabledfriendly It's only a matter of time, say those . living with disabilities. Or, perhaps, so they hope. ONE SIZE FITS ALL Architects around the world are beginning to incorporate Universal Design in their projects. It's a concept that aims to make homes and offices easier to navigate for everyone including children, senior citizens and disabled people. They're simple, relatively effortless changes that can be made without any extra cost. Light switches at three feet instead of five feet so that they are easier to reach. No sill on the door way means no trip ping and a wheel chair can move over it easily. Light switches with large flat panels rather than small toggle switches Installing a hand held shower nozzle can make bathing easier for anyone; make sure the hose is long enough to allow for a com fortable reach even if the individual is seated. Lever handles for opening doors rather than twisting knobs Wide interior doors and hallways more than three feet, A fold–down seat attached securely to the wall of the shower cubicle
Source:Hindustan Times, Mumbai Edition, 8 AprilTop
NECESSARY MODIFICATIONS would be made in government houses to make them barrier–free under the provision of Section 46 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995.
The Chandigarh administration has invited applications from government employees, in possession of government accommodation allotted by the Secretary, House Allotment Committee, having not less than 40 per cent disability of self or dependent family member. Applications giving de tails of modifications required, along with disability certificate issued by the Medical Board constituted under the provisions of PWD Act, 1995, should reach office of the Director Social Welfare by May 15.
Source:Hindustan Times, Chandigarh Edition, 7 AprilTop
MANGALORE, April 9 2007: ''The coalition government is aiming to sanction Rs 225 crore for the welfare of disabled people in the year 2007-08,'' said Woman and Child Welfare Minister H K Kumaraswamy on Sunday.
He was speaking after distributing identity cards to the disabled people at a programme organised jointly by the Asha Jyothi of Seva Bharati and the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District Disabled Association at the Raveendra Kala Mandira.
The erstwhile government had sanctioned only Rs 50 crore for the welfare of disabled people during 2005-06. But the JDS-BJP coalition government had hiked this amount to Rs 125 crore for 2006-07, he said.
He said that cards would be distributed through each taluk centre in the future considering the difficulties of disabled people. A sum of Rs 10 crore had been reserved for the distribution of tricycles to the disabled beneficiaries in the state, he added.
Minister B Nagaraja Shetty said that the coalition government had raised the monthly grant being paid to the disabled people to Rs 400 from the present Rs 200.
He said that plans would be chalked out soon to provide employment opportunities to all the disabled. Mid-day meal scheme would be launched at all special schools with the help of organisations from June, he added.
Later speaking to this website's newspaper, Minister H K Kumaraswamy said that the present functioning of reservation system for the physically disabled was unscientific and the coalition government would give a new shape to it.
A special meet of ministers, officials concerned and organisations would be convened to discuss the issue and 3 to 5 percent reservation would also be guaranteed to disabled people, which is 0.5 percent at present, he added.
New Delhi: Casting their vote was nothing short of an obstacle race for disabled voters and senior citizens on Thursday as no special arrangements had been made to make the polling stations more accessible for them.
None of the polling stations had ramps to make movement easier. Senior citizens and disabled voters had to walk, leaning on a stick, and seek the help of passersby and relatives to climb stairs. The visuallyimpaired had to depend on a helper to cast their vote. In many places, people on wheelchairs had to be physically lifted so that they could reach the polling booth.
Asha Rani, a resident of Pali Factory, has a problem in one leg. But she had to make her way to the polling booth of ward 128 in Bindapur, some 3 km away, in the scorching heat. There were no ramps. Moreover, due to the ongoing class XII Board exams, some polling stations were set up on the first–floor of schools. ''ith no ramps, it becomes quite difficult. I almost gave up on the idea,'' said Asha Rani.
As per the directions of the EC, all polling booths have to be made disabled–friendly. Even in 2003 Assembly elections, the chief electoral office (CEO) had been given specific instructions to ensure that all booths had ramps and could be accessed properly.
At Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi, 27–year–old Karthik Bhutani who broke his leg in a motorbike accident some days back, had a similar story to tell. He realised it was impossible to climb four steps to enter the polling booth. Seeing his problem, a few policemen on duty lifted Bhutani's wheelchair inside. ''I was expecting them to put up ramps or something. But there were no provisions made,'' Bhutani said.
Mohan Lal, a visually–impaired resident of Kondli, would not have able to cast his vote if his brother Shyam was not there to guide him to the polling station. ''He was determined to come out despite his disability,'' said Shyam. Here too, there were no arrangements for disabled citizens. An officer on duty said: ''We normally don't see too many voters with disability so there are no special arrangements made for them.''
Source:Times of India 6th AprilTop
Mangalore, TIMES NEWS NETWORK: Social welfare minister H K Kumaraswamy has said that the state government would review the norms pertaining to the reservation in government jobs for the disabled candidates.
Speaking to reporters after taking part in the disabled persons identity card distribution ceremony here on Sunday, he said the present norms were highly unscientific and were the main hurdle in providing jobs to the disabled candidates.
The government provided 5% reservation jobs for the disabled candidates, but the total achievement was just 0.5%.
He said the state government has earmarked Rs 135 crore for the welfare of the disabled against Rs 50 crore grants in 2005–06. It was expected to raise this amount to Rs 225 in 2007–08, he said.
Source:The Times of IndiaTop
TARLOCHAN SINGH Bhatia, 47, needs crutches to walk. Despite his disability, Bhatia has been the proud breadwinner of his family for the last 19 years.
But lately his self–assurance has given way to a strange mix of anxiety and insecurity. Before the month ends, the phone booth he runs at the New Delhi Railway Station will be allotted to someone else. The Railway Board has scrapped the scheme under which the disabled were allotted phone booths. "The agreement ends on April 27. The ministry has refused to extend it. I cannot think of anything beyond this booth. I have no other means of earning," says Bhatia.
The booths were allotted under a Central gov ernment scheme to rehabilitate the disabled in 1981, International Year of the Disabled. Like Bhatia, there are about 10,000 other booth owners in the country for whom this will be the cruelest April of their lives.
Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Affairs, had written to Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in November 2006 seeking an extension for the booth owners. In his reply on February 26, 2007, Prasad said: "There is no proposal for further extension of the contracts." Girish Menon, general secretary of the Indian Railway Public Telephone Booth Holders Association (disabled Persons), had also petitioned the railway minister in March 2007 to reconsider the vacation notices. However, ministry sources confirmed that the decision is unlikely to change.
Source:Hindustan Times, 7 AprilTop
Chandigarh: Sanjay Kumar, 28, a resident of Dandota village in
Haryana, has been awaiting reply from PESCO (Punjab Ex–Servicemen
Corporation) for the last six months under the Right to Information Act
(RTI). All he wanted to know was the number of people they had employed
under the Disability Act, 1995, which has a provision for three per cent
reservation in government offices for people with disabilities.
But Sanjay, disabled with polio, says PESCO has not responded to his query since last November.
Burning Brains Society, an NGO that advised him to file an RTI application with CITCO and PESCO to find out if they had filled up all posts under the Disability Act. Though initially CITCO was not forthcoming with the information, he got the information after an appeal was filed with the Department Appellate authority.
But PESCO tried to stall it by saying Sanjay would be required to pay the fee of Rs 10 for the RTI application to be processed, even though those living below the poverty line are exempted from paying it.
This was done despite a copy of his family's ration card having been attached to the application, which clearly stated that he falls under the BPL category. But PESCO argued that as ration card was in his father 's name and since he was seeking exemption from paying the RTI fee, unless he got a ration card made in his name, they couldn't give him the information.
Hemant Goswami, of Burning Brains Society, said, "We paid fee but are yet to get a reply from PESCO. We plan to file a complaint with the state information commissioner."
The Jindal trust chairperson would like help to improve access to public utilities for the disabled people.
Sminu Jindal is seized with a passion to remove obstacles in the way of the disabled, be it on roads, airports, schools, hotels or petrol pumps. The wheelchair-borne chairperson of SJ Charitable Trust, which provides consultancy services to organisations to make their buildings easily accessible to the disabled, says she would like to have NGOs on board too.
"In fact, anyone who is willing to walk with us," she says. The fee is over Rs 1 lakh for private buildings while the government ones get the service for Rs 50,000. The fee, she says, is intended to make governments and companies take the reports seriously. But Sminu is disappointed with the government. She says her trust carried out accessibility audits for the New Delhi Municipal Corporation facilities as well as sites under the Archaelogical Survey of India. None of the two have implemented her suggestions.
The trust is now talking to HPCL and BPCL, which plan to make all petrol pumps accessible to the disabled. ITC has also asked for a report and so has the NDMC, which wants to make its school buildings disabled-friendly, says Sminu, who is disappointed that most buildings and roads in the country are hostile to the disabled. The trust also sends resource persons to various organisations to sensitise employees on the needs and abilities of persons with disabilities.
It is now looking at Rajasthan and Haryana governments as partners in making buildings and thoroughfares accessible. "Haryana is my native state and I would love to work with the government there. I am hoping that day comes soon," she says. Sminu , who became disabled at the age of 11 when she met with an accident, hopes to reach out to more people through her website, which brings together information on education, rehabilitation, employment and even matrimony and companionship. "The idea is to enable each person with disability to access all the information he or she needs," says Jindal, adding, "I want disabled persons to meet and chat and marry though my website."
Dragad (Karnah),APRIL 09, 2007: Children of her age love to move out and play but she
mostly remains confined to four walls reconstructed from the rubble from
where she was rescued on the dreadful day of October 8 when quake jolted
her right hand and disabled her for ever.
Rubina, 7, lives in remote village of Dragad, some 12 kilometers from Tangdhar in Karnah Tehsil, with sisters Safeena, 6, Parveena, 11, brother Riyaz, 9 and Mumtaz, 14, with no elder person to guide them on ways to tread in life at this tender age.
Her family received the first jolt when father Jalaluddin, a farmer, died in 2003 and then followed her mother to heavenly abode in 2005 just before October 8 when she miraculously escaped death from the rattle but lost her 'cute' right hand.
Rubina almost perished in rubble but was extricated by villagers when they heard her screeched in pain. Shifted to Srinagar's B&J hospital, her right arm, which she now hides under her kameez, got amputed. Dumbfounded Rubina stared into the eyes of members of Greater Kashmir Welfare Trust team as they landed in front of her house here. Deep into her innocent eyes reflected an urge for answers to queries as to why her family has been ignored so far. Rubina didn't utter a word but her gaze was reflective of inner torment she has faced over the years.
For months, GKWT team was hell bent to trace Rubina so as to help her out to meet challenges of life and it was after Sarva Siksha Abiyaan Coordinator Khwaja Iftikar Ahmad's personal intervention that the team could locate her here near the Line of Control in Teetwal sector. "I was the first to reach Dragad as the news spread about orphans being buried under the rubble and after difficult exercise Rubina was extricated," Iftikar said, adding that "never before in my life I have wept but the moment I saw Rubina, tears flowed from my eyes as I saw her right hand hanging like a vegetable and she was crying in pain." The team which was looking for her had to tread almost five kilometers deep into the rugged' Dragad village.
As the team members reached Rubina house, they saw her engaged in daily chores with left hand in dingy room with Riyaz and Safeena warming themselves infront of Dhaan (traditional cooking place). The room was indicative of missing elderly 'aroma' as tender rather amputated hand lend help in daily chores. It was Rubina whom the team found washing utensils and preparing rice for evening meals in her house when the team members visited them at about 5.30 PM.
Even the team members were astonished to see the condition of the ill– fated children. On watching some activity around Rubina's house, all neighbours gathered and pleaded for help to the family. At initial moment, the GKWT team thought about a plan to shift the minors to Srinagar but neighbours favoured their stay back home here as they argued that Mumtaz is taking care of the family by undertaking work as domestic help in the village.
At the age of 14, Mumtaz has responsibility of feeding family of five siblings all of whom are younger to him.
"After losing my parents it was another shock for me. As we were already living a very tough life, killer quake snatched shelter as well. I can bear any pain now but I want my sisters and brothers to be secure in future," sobbing Mumtaz told the team members.
Earning Rs 50 a day, Mumtaz admitted that sustaining life is difficult in Dragad terrains. The family got Rs 40,000 but all was spent on construction of the house with nothing to spare. "But for neighbours, my small family would have starved to death," he contends. Mumtaz revealed that an NGO promised them help in construction of temporary but nothing till date has materialized from NGO's side. "NGO COVA promised us that their organisation will construct shelter for us as we are orphans but that has remained a promise only as I have never seen the faces of COVA members after getting our names registered in their files," Mumtaz alleged.
Muhammad Hussain, a teacher at a local school and neighbour of Mumtaz said, "They are living a miserable life. He (Mumtaz) was studying in 8th class when he had to leave his studies and earn for his family. It is the villagers who engage him as a labor on humanitarian grounds. But the money he earns isn't sufficient for meals even." The team members alongwith Iftikar and Muhammad Hussain almost had a heart–wrenching experience but were determined to help in whatever form the Trust could to help mitigate the sufferings of little Rubina and her minor family.
With Iftikar and Muhammd Hussain being nominated as their guardians in Karnah, GKWT has adopted her till she acquires age of maturity and will constantly monitor the well–being of family through proper rehabilitation measures in place. The endeavour was self satisfying as Rubina giggled but constantly stared at the members urging them to return for her family's well being. Today being the Day for Disabled, GKWT did its bid but what about so many Rubinas in other parts of valley left in lurch.
(This write–up appeared in GK Plus issue of December 3, 2006 and is being reproduced in original to inform all those who donated towards GK Welfare Trust that the Trust is committed to mitigate the suffering of quake–hit for which Trust has the mandate).
SILIGURI, April 8: Moving a step forward from its conventional way of functioning, authorities of Sarva Shiksha Misson (SSM) have decided to give education to physically challenged children and take initiative to reduce school dropout rate.
Authorities of SSM, Siliguri, are planning to make talking books available for the visually impaired students, with the help of the Siliguri station of All India Radio (AIR). Mr Pradip Adhikari of SSM, Siliguri, said: "Using the machineries and with the help of the AIR engineers, we will voice over the whole content of book in an interesting way, which will entertain as well as educate the special students. We will present the records to the visual impaired students. The 60-minute long talking books would prove to be a boon for the students who do not know Braille. The authorities of AIR have promised to help us. We have decided to start circulation of the records next month."
According to the official records, 20 visual impaired students are studying in the Sishu Sikha Kendras under the SSM, Siliguri. Of them, only six students know Braille.
The SSM, Siliguri, has also offered helping hand to the deaf and dumb students. It has decided to donate hearing aids to all the students who cannot hear. The SSM, Siliguri, health camps at Phansidawa, Batasi and Sivmandir yesterday. Two audiologists and language pathologists from Kolkata were present at the camps.
According to officials, more than 4,105 physically challenged children are there in SSM, Siiguri. Of them, 2000 children are studying in various schools. "We are trying to create equal opportunity for the physically challenged students. We hope these steps would help us to reach our goal," Mr Adhikari, said.
BUDDING ARTISTS: Children participating in the Kala Mela in Bangalore on Saturday.
BANGALORE: The Kala Mela was a colour mela. As many as 110 children and 30 artists participated in the mela at the Thimmaiah Park here organised by the Association of People with Disability.
The event had a creative objective: To bring out the talent hidden in children.
It was also a celebration of different places that made Bangalore a city and an encouragement to persons with disability. Inaugurating the event on Saturday, artist M.B. Patil said Kala Mela could be celebrated along with the Karnataka Lalithkala Academy and other non-governmental organisations.
He later spent some time interacting with artists and children on art and culture. The Association of People with Disability has launched Shradhanjali, a model school designed for holistic development and education where children with severe and multiple disability learn and play with those without disability. Pre-education is taken care of through community-based group activities, anganwadis and pre-schools. The organisation supports 5,000 people by providing them training, therapy and education.
Chandigarh, April 6: Nobody in Punjab knows the exact number of the
disabled and neither has the government bothered to update the past
Moreover, government has not been advertising regularly for posts that are reserved for the disabled, said National Secretary of the National disabled Welfare Council (NHWC), Ajit Salani.
Salani, himself visually disabled, was addressing a conference to highlight the demands of the disabled in Punjab, in the city today.
"Although three per cent of jobs in government sector are reserved for the disabled, most of them are lying vacant," he said. "Moreover, the disabled are not aware of the vacancies because the government does not advertise for the posts."
He said that there were enough qualified people who could fill up the posts. "In fact, we are demanding that the reserved quota be increased, " said Salani. "If the government wants to integrate the disabled into society, both economically and socially, it has to come up with job guarantee schemes," said Ajay Sharma, chairman, Employee Wing.
"A man who marries a disabled woman should be given job security so that it encourages others to come forward," Sharma said.
The pathetic condition of schools for the blind in Punjab was also discussed. "Of the six schools, only one is a government school," said Salani. "It was built way back in 1968 and since then the government has done nothing. All schools for the deaf are also private," he said.
The problem, the council said, was that schemes were announced but rarely implemented.
Moreover, the disabled were unaware of existing schemes. "We must do more to spread awareness about the schemes," said Rajeev Kakar, president, Chandigarh unit. "We will be submitting a charter of demands to the new Akali government and hope that they will take necessary action," he said.
CHANDIGARH, 7 Apr, 2007: The UT Administration is planning to redesign the houses of
its disabled employees in accordance with Section 46 of Persons with
Disabilities Act, 1995.
While the move might win accolades for the administration, its employees seem far from happy. While some say that the relief has come too late, there are others who feel that it's unfair on the part of the administration to say that the criteria for applying is 40 per cent handicap.
Also, the exclusion of disabled employees of Punjab and Haryana governments has left many in the city bitter. Senior UT Employees Union's office–bearer, Rakesh Kumar criticised the UT Administration's House Allotment Committee.
"This is unfair to those with 20–40 percentage handicap who are presently staying in government accommodation." Another office–bearer of the union, Bal Kishan decried the exclusion of employees of Punjab and Haryana governments.
Rued Vijay Kumar, president of National Federation of the Blind (Haryana chapter), "Our voices go unheard whenever we raise it against such unfruitful policies for the disabled."
Meanwhile, Chandigarh Administration has invited applications from disabled government employees in possession of government accommodation allotted by the secretary of house allotment committee, UT.
Applications giving the details of modifications, along with disability certificate issued by the medical board are to reach the office of director of social welfare, latest by May 15, 2007.
" The outcome was that I got a very good rank and that was All India Rank 29th. But subsequently I was turned down from any position because of the medical standards. "
– Raman Kumar, UPSC applicant
Saturday, April 7, 2007: Bangalore based engineer Raman Kumar is facing a peculiar problem where the government has said he is not good enough for a job but not bad enough to qualify for the post under disabled category.
Raman, a civil engineering Masters degree holder from the Indian Institute of Science, is currently employed by the multi national General Electric.
But despite the good rank in 2002 UPSC exams he was found unsuitable for government service.
"The outcome was that I got a very good rank and that was All India Rank 29th. But subsequently I was turned down from any position because of the medical standards," said Raman.
"I had applied in the General Category, they found that my vision is not up to standards. At the same time my vision is not so low that I fall into the physically challenged category," he added.
Raman Kumar made representations to the Ministry of Railways, which has the responsibility of medically testing applicants for the engineering services.
He got a response after two years, which simply pointed out that there was no provision for employing those with mild disability, something he knew well as it is pointed out in the Central Government's brochure on reservations for the physically disabled.
The brochure recommends an amendment to medical standards so that people like Raman are not put at a disadvantage.
"I have written to the President, the Prime Minister, The National Human Rights Commission. I have even filed a case in the Supreme Court. I am not asking for any reservation, I am just asking for a competitive opportunity which a person by birth is having because he or she is a citizen or India," said Raman.
Clearly this is one area where common sense and some humanity could bring in changes to rules that are certainly not written in stone.
New Delhi, April 6: SHIVANI Chauhan can handle the barbs and pitying looks that are prompted by her being wheelchair bound. But her inability to negotiate streets and subways keeps her home. Chand Lal, 40, a trader at INA market, is able–bodied but prefers the thrill of dodging traffic to cross the street instead of using the nearby subway.
But the New Delhi Municipal Council plans to come up with something that would be to the liking of both Shivani and Chand: India's first disabled–friendly Foot Over Bridges (FOBs) which would have lifts especially for the disabled and escalators to encourage pedestrians to use the overbridges. Senior citizens would also be able to use the FOBs.
"These bridges will be of international quality located at the busiest traffic junctions, of which four will be at the entry points to NDMC areas," NDMC Engineer–in–Chief K K Mutreja said. "They will all be designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible and more like grand gateways into NDMC," he added.
Speaking about the new designs, an engineer said: "The problem with our present FOBs and subways is that besides being completely disabled–unfriendly, even ordinary pedestrians don't use them since they are user unfriendly."
The lifts will be transparent and the access paths to them will be wider than usual so that disabled people don't have a tough time using the structure.
Engineers feel that with vehicular traffic increasing, FOBs are now a necessity for traffic regulation and pedestrian safety. "We can no longer afford to have people running across streets especially with the number of vehicles increasing on roads," officials said.
Such bridges are present in Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong but even London, Paris and Stockholm do not have them. One such overbridge has been demanded on the ITO end of Tilak Marg. "The whole project will be self–sustaining and there will be no burden on the government exchequer because the structure will pay for itself through its advertisement potential," Mutreja said.
At present, there are FOBs at:
Aurobindo Marg near Safdarjung Airport
Between Delhi Haat and INA Market
Park Street towards the Talkatora Indoor Stadium
Mandir Marg near St Thomas School
Baba Kharak Singh Marg near Bangla Sahib Road
Shahjahan Road near UPSC
Mother Teresa Marg at Gate No 18
Thiruvananthapuram, 6 April: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will commission next week the Rs.45–lakh passenger facilities in the domestic terminal of the international airport to cater to the heavy movement of travellers in the domestic sector.
An additional 300 square metres of space is being made available by the AAI on the city side and airside in addition to the existing 4,465 square metres in the domestic terminal. Under this project, 240 square metres on the right side of the canopy of the domestic terminal was annexed to the terminal building to make available more space for the domestic passengers.
Air–conditioners have been provided for the comfort of the passengers and tiles have been laid on the floor. The X–ray machine now placed inside the building would be shifted outside so that the domestic passengers can screen their baggage and proceed straight to the terminal.
Two more airline counters would be set up inside the building to avoid rush. With this, the number of airline counters in the domestic terminal would go up to eight. Conveyor belts would be extended to all counters.
On the airside, the authorities have extended the security–hold area by 60 square metres to accommodate more passengers. Two toilets and a ramp have been created for the benefit of senior citizens and the disabled people. In addition, an additional door has also been set up so that the passengers can enter the coaches that take them to the aircraft without any rush.
Airport Director K. Natarajan told The Hindu that the additional facilities being set up by AAI at a cost of Rs.45 lakh would be thrown open by the weekend.
The heavy movement of domestic passengers forced us to provide more facilities in the domestic terminal, he said.
The AAI would place more chairs in the security hold area for the benefit of checked–in passengers. One more X–ray machine would soon be installed for screening the baggage in the domestic terminal, he said.
As per the latest traffic figures, Mr. Natarajan said the increase in domestic aircraft movement through the airport was an astounding 225 per cent. The movement of domestic aircraft alone had gone up from 284 in January 2006 to 924 in January this year. "This had prompted us to provide more facilities for the passengers in the domestic terminal," he said.
New Delhi, April 4, DON 'T COMMUTERS need toilets? The Delhi High Court on Wednesday posed this question while hearing a petition on the lack of toilet facilities in the metro's stations.
" There is a metro train every five minutes. Therefore passengers do not require a toilet, counsel for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC) said. " The Bench, headed by Chief Justice M K Sharma was not convinced by this argument. "The world over, toilets are provided in metro trains and only at busy stations, toilets are provided for commuters" , said the affidavit submitted by N P Singh, General Manager (Law) of DMRC. The DMRC believes that toilets make stations dirty But DMRC's report shows that toilets are not available even in some of the busiest stations.
Source:Hindustan Times, 5 April 2007Top
NEW DELHI, 6 Apr, 2007: Political class's growing lament over "judicial overreach"
found support from an unexpected quarter on Thursday when Justice
Markandeya Katju of the Supreme Court expressed his annoyance with
fellow judges appropriating jurisdiction on all sorts of issues.
Listing issues health, education, elections on which the courts have been frequently entertaining PILs, Justice Katju went on to say that he would even lodge a formal complaint against the practice.
The surprise outburst, which could be music to politicians ears, came when Justice Katju, sitting with Justice S B Sinha, took up a PIL filed by an NGO, Disabled Rights Group, seeking a direction to the Centre and the Election Commission to make polling booths disabled friendly.
Even before Meenakshi Arora, counsel for EC, could give details of the steps taken by the commission in this regard, Justice Katju's stinging remarks caught lawyers from both sides by surprise.
He said, "How can we say what arrangements are to be made for disabled persons in polling booths? Are we the EC? Go to the EC and tell them what arrangements are required to be made. We are not EC. "
When this did not evoke a response from either side, Justice Katju continued, "I am entitled to register my objection to entertainment of all sorts of PILs. Judges should exercise some self restraint. The Supreme Court has become an authority on all subjects, be it health, education or even election. I am going to lodge my complaint. "
The remarks come at a time when politicians and bureaucrats have been chaffing at judicial activism. SC's stay on the implementation of OBC quota in central educational institutions seems to have strengthened the feeling among parties that courts have overstepped.
Kolkata, April 6: Setting a motivational example for a lot of people about how to overcome one's disabilities, a factory located in Kolkata Kausba Industrial Estate, is being run by a group of disabled people.
The workers that comprise 35 disabled people members, many of them having speech or hearing disabilities, manufacture Soyabean nuggets at the Bengal Food Products.
According to Subrata Saha, the factory owner, the manufacturing unit being operation for the last four months works more efficiently than the one employing able bodied workers.
As far as efficiency is concerned I have another factory where physically fit workers work. I think this unit is more efficient than it. There is no sound pollution in my factory. Very good work happens here and almost 35 people work here in two shifts. There is a minimum two tons of production working in two shifts in a day, said Saha. disabled people workers are involved in the production process, starting from running the machines to packing material.
The workers too are happy that their talents have been meaningfully utilized by the factory owner instead of considering them useless or setting them aside on the fringes of life.
I make a decent money working here . I can do something, make a living despite being a disabled, said Madhai Bairagi, a disabled worker.
According to a government estimate about two per cent of the population has physical or sensory disabilities that include visual, speech, hearing and movement problems but volunteers working in the field put the figure at five to six percent of the population, or 50 to 60 million people.
As per the Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995, the disable in India are entitled to a host of rights that would go a long way in enriching their lives, already harassed by nature's follies.
But it has been widely noticed that even after a decade after the Act was passed, they still face discrimination in employment, even in state-run enterprises.
New Delhi, April 4, THE DELHI High Court on Wednesday restrained all colleges under the Delhi University which failed to reserve seats for disabled persons in the teaching department from making fresh appointments till further orders.
" The respondents have not given explanation for the failure to implement a resolution proposing three per cent reservation for the disabled. We stay the process of selection and appointment so that rights of the disabled might not be defeated due to extraneous reasons, " a Bench comprising Justice T. S. Thakur and S. N. Agrawal said.
The court was upset over the delay in the implementation of the provision of Disability Act even 15 years after the Act was passed by Parliament and six years after the judgement on reservation. "The colleges failed to implement the policy, and with impunity, they are defying the provisions of Parliamentary legislation and the judgement of this court," the Bench observed.
The court also sought explanation from the registrar of the University regarding the steps taken by it to implement the reservation of the disabled persons in the teaching profession. " Most of the colleges get aid from the UGC, so the University has to explain why the policy of reservation has not been implemented in letter and spirit, " Justice T S Thakur said.
The court was passing the order on a petition by Sambhavana Trust, a registered society comprising disabled persons.
Source:Hindustan Times, 5 April 2007Top
Wednesday, April 4, 2007,Lucknow, It's cut across caste lines in the state uniting people who have a single agenda.
The campaign trail in Uttar Pradesh may be full with political aspirants across parties but now the disabled community in the state has come together to put up a fight for representation in the assembly.
Champa Devi is the candidate for the Rashtriya Viklang Party or National Party for the Disabled from Lalitpur. Hands folded she appeals for votes, in between pushing her wheelchair forward, Champa knows that the disabled like her will have to fight for power.
Wherever we go, we are chased off. I am fighting the elections so that the disabled can unite and assert our strength, said Champa Devi.
The Rashtriya Viklang Party has fielded 40 candidates in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Of these perhaps no one else has a more difficult assignment than Chandrajit Yadav, who is contesting against Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Bharthana.
Don't get equal opportunity The people shouting slogans under the midday sun are fighting for the cause of the disabled in the state. Despite a reservation policy in place very few among the disabled actually get equal opportunities.
So much so that even when they protest no one has the time to listen or care."We held a sit-down demonstration in Lucknow for 90 days.
Not a single politician or bureaucrat found time for us. Its World Disability Day on December 3, but what use is a special day when we're hungry all the time? asked Shivgopal Gupta, a disabled man.
We are being ignored. A single disabled legislator in Lucknow could make a huge difference, said Shailesh Shrivastav, another disabled. It's a cause that has brought together people from every religion and caste.
Bound together in their own limitations theirs is a united appeal to the 85 lakh disabled people in the state to ensure that at least a few disabled candidates make it to the state assembly.
New Delhi, April 4: The Delhi High Court today passed an interim stay on
recruitment of teaching staff by Delhi varsity and all its affiliated
colleges for having failed to adhere by mandatory three per cent
reservation for disabled persons in the faculty.
Holding that varsity and its subsidiaries had not given valid reasons for not abiding by the reservation policy, a Bench led by Justice TS Thakur ordered the interim stay on future appointments to avoid defeating the rights of the disabled by extraneous reasons.
Irked by the delay in putting into action the provision envisaged in the Disability Act even over a decade after the law came came into existence and six years after a specific judgment from the court, the bench observed: The colleges failed to implement the policy and are defying the provisions of Parliamentary legislation and the judgement of this court.
The Court has issued notice to the varsity Registrar seeking why it continued with the lapse despite availing aid from education bodies like UGC.
Most of the colleges get aid from UGC and others so the University has to explain why the policy of reservation has not been implemented, the bench held.
CHENNAI, 2 April: Their disability did not come in the way of their ambition to achieve prominence in music field.
Fifteen visually impaired persons joined hands to bring out a Tamil music album, Irai Vaasam, said to be a first of its kind effort in the city.
Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Commissioner T. Pitchandi launched the devotional music album here on Sunday. Music director Gangai Amaran received the first copy. Recalling the hard work that went into the album, president of the All India Louis Braille Association of the Blind S. Murugesan said their dedicated efforts over two months paid rich dividends with the launch of the album.
Mr. Murugesan, who is also the music composer and lyricist of the album, said the composition was done under different situations. One song was composed during a train journey and another after a temple visit, he added. He appealed to the government to provide land for setting up a recording studio for the visually impaired artistes. Mr. Pitchandi said such efforts of visually challenged persons must be encouraged. The demands of the association would be taken up with the officials concerned.
He also released a Tamil poetry book, Agalveli, authored by Mr. Murugesan. Proprietor of Kannadasan Pathipagam Gandhi Kannadasan said books of lyricist Kannadasan and Tamil poet Bharathiyar would soon be published in braille form and distributed free to associations and schools for the visually challenged. Vishranthi Charitable Trust Chairperson Savithri Vaithi participated.
The All India Louis Braille Association of the Blind plans to bring out more such music albums.
Guwahati April 02, 2007: The North Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEDFi), Bharti Airtel and Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (VRC), have jointly taken an initiative to create livelihood opportunities for the disabled and handicap in the state as part of their social responsibility.
NEDFi has sanctioned a loan amount of Rs 4.71 lakh for about 200 mobile PCOs for the physically disabled while Bharti Airtel came forward to provide free SIMs and recharge coupons from the PCOs. To begin with, 15 mobile PCOs were distributed to physically challenged people in the presence of Ajanta Neog, social welfare minister of Assam..
The beneficiaries were identified by North East Disabled Development Society (NEDDS). NEDFi, which has been associated with providing loans to enterprising persons of North East India, is now planning to give back to the society by utilising its social responsibility policy fund, said KN Hazarika while interacting with the press. He added, NEDFi had recently reserved Rs 1 crore for its social responsibility policy fund and the fund will be further increased at an appropriate time.
Shimla, April 2nd, 2007: Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (SDRS),
Himachal Pradesh Chapter has invited entries for Mahatma Gandhi Awards
for Empowering the Disabled. The Awards have been instituted this year
to commemorate the centenary year of Satyagrah and as a humble tribute
to the Father of the Nation.
Ajai Srivastava, Chairman of Himachal Pradesh Chapter of SDRS, informed that there are two categories for the awards. In the first category one social activist or NGO will be awarded for outstanding contribution in the field of disability and rehabilitation. The second category is for journalists and media persons. One journalist or media person will be conferred with the award for his/her outstanding contribution in creating awareness about disability and rehabilitation through media coverage.
Each award carries a cash reward of Rs 11,000 along with a citation. Social activists, NGOs, journalists and media persons working in Himachal Pradesh only will be eligible for the awards. A jury consisting of eminent social activists and journalists will select the awardees. The decision of the jury will be final and binding.
Entries with full details and supported documents press clipping must reach at the following address latest by 20th April, 2007, Mr. Ajai Srivastava, Chairman, S.D.R.S. H.P.Chapter, 3, Himalaya Apartment, Kasumpti, Near Goldy General Store Shimla 171009.
PANJIM, APRIL 1, Some call Goa, paradise on earth but for the 25,000 disabled people in Goa as per the National Sample Survery Organisation, there is nothing to cheer about.
And what is striking many as ironical is that while the Minister for Social Welfare accepts platitudes from the Central Government in the form of a national award, which proclaims Goa as a disabled friendly state in December 2006, many Goans with physical disabilities in Goa scoff such claims stating that it is far from the truth.
The government woke up after two students of Salgoankar Law College filed a PIL in 2004, seeking action against the government for non-implementation of the Act and absence of a barrier free environment for the disabled people.
A policy is likely to be implemented by 2008 which will focus on prevention and early detection of disabilities, rehabilitation services, education, employment, barrier free environment and assistive devices for differently able persons. Says Advocate Jamshed Mistry, who appeared for the petitioners, this PIL will positively change the mindset of the government and initiate them to bring out a positive policy for the disabled.
While the Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane is making attempts to ease the burden of the physically challenged on ground level it is a different story. What is shocking is that while everyone talks of implementing policies on the streets its a different story where access to public places, transport and even the Legislature is a problem as it is not disabled friendly. As Suresh Naik, resident of Margao bitterly says, to enter the Margao Municipal Council is a problem and perhaps the Minister can tell me as to how I am supposed to visits the Legislature at Porvorim on crutches. The slope is a problem, the distance from the bus stop far and access to the Minister offices difficult. At Panjim, it was ok but after Parrikar shifted it to Porvorim it is trauma. And it is for this reason that most of disabled people are forced to remain confined to their homes.
Investigations by Herald have revealed that while the Government of Goa has passed the Model Building Byelaws (excluding domestic buildings), prepared by the Town and Country Planning Organization, Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development in September 2006, very little has been done for the physically challenged on the ground level. Consider some of the facilities.
Buildings for ambulant disabled people like higher secondary schools, conference halls, court houses, law courts, concert halls, theatres which shall be accessible for small wheel chairs. Buildings for non-ambulant disabled people like schools for physically disabled, post offices, banks, dispensaries, railway stations, supermarkets which shall be applicable to large wheel chairs Buildings for non ambulant using large wheel chairs such as pubic libraries, universities tax office, bus terminals, passport office, pension offices. One special toilet to be made available which should have a handrail and should have minimum size of 1075x1650 mm with minimum dept of 1450 mm. If that is not done then consider some of the other impediments: Public transportation ? low door levels and easier access to enter and exit with special seats Police personnel to man zebra crossing to assist physically disabled
Says Avelino D Sa of the Disability Rights Association of Goa, I congratulate the State for receiving the national award for providing barrier free access to the disabled, but the ground reality tells a different story where a lot of work needs to be done regarding the needs of the disabled. And while the disabled struggle, the authorities just talk and win meaningless awards.
WASHINGTON, 31 March, The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened for signature and ratification today at United Nations Headquarters, in New York. This human rights treaty, the first in the 21st century and the fastest negotiated in history, will protect and promote the rights of 650 million persons with disabilities, 10% of the world's population.
An unprecedented 82 countries signed the Convention and 44 signed the Convention's Optional Protocol, a monitoring mechanism that addresses individual violations. During this opening ceremony Jamaica both signed and ratified the Convention.
Among countries that signed today were those in which Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) has a significant presence, including Colombia, El Salvador, and Jordan. Adnan Al Aboudy, LSN-Jordan director, served as a member of the Jordanian delegation that signed the Convention.
During discussions following the signing ceremony, the Australian delegations highlighted the link between the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In response, Ambassador Don MacKay, permanent representative of New Zealand and chair of the UN Ad Hoc Committee, noted the significant contribution of Landmine Survivors Network to both treaties.
The disability community has waited for this Convention for decades. "This Convention indicates disability rights are no longer a 'little special rights' or charity," said Jerry White, LSN co-founder and executive director. "The Convention is comprehensive in the provisions it sets for the rights of persons with disabilities," continued White. At its core, the Convention sets provisions to ensure that persons with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else, and are able to lead their lives as full-fledged individuals who can make valuable contributions to society.
Procedurally, once a country signs the Convention, the national representative will then take the treaty to his/her country for ratification. Once ratified by 20 countries the Convention will enter into force for those countries. White says, "LSN will continue its work on the Convention by committing to a global push to secure country ratifications to ensure that the treaty becomes international law by 2008." LSN has prepared tools to help advocate for ratification. Find them at http://www.landminesurvivors.org.
About Landmine Survivors Network
Landmine Survivors Network is the only international organization of survivors dedicated to helping mine victims recover from trauma, reintegrate into their communities, and advocate for their human rights. Source: www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news
United Nations, 31 March: India was among 81 countries and European Union to sign a landmark UN brokered treaty that aims to improve the lives of the world's estimated 650 million people with disabilities.
Indian Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen signed the treaty that attracted a record number of signatures on the very first day for any convention.
Jamaica also ratified the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the first country to go beyond endorsement and adopt it as law.
The pact, the fastest negotiated international human rights instrument in history, needs 19 more ratifications to come into force.
Some 44 countries signed the optional protocol to the convention, which will give individuals recourse to an expert committee on the rights of persons with disabilities when all national options have exhausted.
The convention outlaws discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life, including employment, education, health services, transportation and access to justice.
It requires that public spaces and buildings be accessible to the disabled, and calls for improvement in information and communications infrastructure.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told reporters in New York that the drive and commitment of the disability community was the greatest impetus behind the treaty's content and relatively rapid adoption.
“It is very appropriate that it targets a community that has been marginalised for so long, ” she said.
While India may have officially been declared a leprosy free zone, the disease continues to leave more than 100,000 sufferers often stigmatised and isolated.
I met Mamatha at a health clinic in Hyderabad. She was wearing a bright yellow party dress. She is 10-years-old and has leprosy. The doctor asked her to close her eyes and then tickled her face with a nylon bristle.
Mamatha knew this game. Each time she pointed with her finger to the place being tickled. But when a large patch of skin on her left cheek was touched, Mamatha didn't move.
The skin patch is not eczema, which my own 10-year-old daughter suffers from, but leprosy. The disease causes nerve damage and creates what's called "anaesthetic skin".
Now, if you cannot detect heat, cold, or pain you run the risk of serious limb damage. Repeated injury can mean people with leprosy lose fingers and toes.
The clinic is run by the charity LEPRA. The doctor told me that fortunately Mamatha's leprosy had been caught early. A six-month course of antibiotics will cure her.
Her father confided that no-one else in the family knew about Mamatha's illness. He had not even told his wife.
Leprosy is an ancient, much feared disease. But although it is infectious and spread like tuberculosis, it is very hard to catch. Most of us have a natural immunity to the germ responsible.
As soon as patients begin treatment, they cannot pass on the disease. But even though it has been curable for decades leprosy still carries huge stigma and the risk of discrimination. Mamatha's father simply wanted to protect his child from being labelled a leper. Bold statement
In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy the majority in India. Recently India announced it had "eliminated" leprosy. That is a pretty bold statement. If something is eliminated you might expect it not to be there any more.
But, according to a target set by the World Health Organization, elimination simply means there is now fewer than one case in every 10,000 people. Given India's vast population, this means there are more than a 150,000 new cases each year - 150,000 people each with their own story of leprosy. Another patient at the clinic, Mahammadi, invited me to her home. She had been cured of leprosy, but the disease damaged her immune system. She has infected lesions on her arms. Mahammadi showed me the drug she was taking called thalidomide the most infamous medicine of the 20th century. It caused birth defects when taken by pregnant women, but is now a specialist treatment for leprosy.
Mahammadi said the name thalidomide meant nothing to her, but yes, the clinic had told her it was vital she did not get pregnant during the treatment. Mahammadi's parents said they were praying that the marks left by leprosy would clear from their daughter's arms; otherwise it might be hard for her to find a husband.
The risk of social rejection is so great that many people cured of leprosy end up living in isolated settlements.
Today there are still more than 1,000 leprosy colonies in India. At the Shantinugar colony outside Hyderabad I came across Laxmi.
She was sitting in the shade bathing her feet. The scent of jasmine hung in the air from the flowers tied in her hair. She told me how, when she was 18, she was diagnosed with leprosy.
Her family were frightened they would get the disease and kept her in a room at the edge of the village.
“For the first few weeks I kept crying and asking, why me?”she said.
After six months in isolation she was taken away to a clinic and has not seen her family since. The disease robbed the sensation from her right foot and it became so damaged that eventually it was amputated.
While she was being treated she met her husband - also marked for life by leprosy. More than 130 families live at the colony. They survive on a meagre government pension which many supplement with weaving. But the main occupation is begging.
Many of the disabled who stand outside the temples and at road junctions in Hyderabad carry the marks of leprosy. One man, who'd lost several fingers, told me that he rarely leaves the colony because people are so hostile.
It's impossible to buy a drink at a cafe, he told me. People cover their faces, and tell us to leave.
Leprosy may have been officially eliminated as a public health problem in India, but eradication is a different matter.
India has stopped actively searching for leprosy cases instead relying on communities to recognise the disease. The danger is that patients will either not realise they have the condition or be too scared to come forward.
The Indian government says it is determined to wipe out leprosy, but the signs are that this ancient disease will continue to disfigure and disable well into the 21st Century.
Chandigarh, 31 March:The visually impaired students of the Institute for Blind, Sector 26, would soon be heard on air on a programme Radio
Buzz station at All India Radio. Hardeep Chandpuri, CEO, Radio Buzz, made the announcement at a special olympics meet held at the Chandigarh College
of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, here today. Rotract Club organised the event.
He said the students would be given voice modulation training, after which they would have a dedicated time slot of their own to perform on air. The members of the Rotract Club would be taking the initiative and would send a list of students, who would participate in the training programme.
At the olympics meet, more than 40 visually impaired students participated in various games, including shot put, 100 and 200 metre races, discus throw and long jump. Municipal Councilor and chairman of Health and Sanitation Committee, UT Chandigarh, Dr A P Sanwaria was the chief guest. He said,India future is in the hands of the youth and such initiatives by them can bring a great change in the society. In the boys team, the winners were Shubham, 100 metres, Ramsaran shot-put, Kuljeet, discus throw and long jump and Gurbachan 200 metres race. In the girls team, Ram Dai, Karamjit and Parminder,100 meters race and Karamjit, shot put won the prizes.