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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. DNI– Subscription


Disability News India – May Issue



Disabled persons disappointed

Madurai, May 30: Hundreds of disabled persons who had come to Madurai West Panchayat Union office for medical check up, had to return disappointed as the officials refused to conduct the camp maintaining that it was against the election Code of Conduct.

Officials today said that they could not arrange the camp or carryout any welfare measure as the by–election was due in the Madurai West assembly constituency.

Disabled persons had received hand bills from the District Rehabilitation Office informing about the medical camp scheduled to be held yesterday. During the camp they were to be issued National Identity Card also.

The officials said the election announcement had come suddenly and they could not inform the people on time.

Source: http://www.chennaionline.com/colnews/newsitem.asp

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Huge grant for Special Olympics Bharat

New Delhi: SPECIAL Olympics Bharat (SOB) has all the reasons to smile. First and foremost, the Sports Ministry has accorded it full recognition and, from now on, it will be like any other national federation.

Secondly, the SOB (now known as National Sports Federation for Intellectually Disabled in ministry parlance) will get complete funding for training camps from the ministry. And most importantly, SOB's athletes can travel like all the elite athletes of various federations do at cost–to–government basis.

Last, but not least, SOB now figures on the ministry's 'priority' list.

If one thought that was sufficient reason to smile, more good news came recently when the ministry sanctioned Rs 2.5 crore, Rs 1 crore for camps, training and procuring all necessary equipment, in preparation and travel to and fro to the World Summer Games in Shanghai this October.

Confirming this to Sportline, Air Marshal Denzil Keelor, chairman of the SOB, said that it (the sanction) came at the right time and now it was up to them to keep the ministry's faith and bring laurels to the country.

"Though the ministry had accorded sanction for the camps and procuring equipment, the letter from Joint Secretary I Srinivas last week came as a shot in the arm for SOB. We now have an added responsibility to prove that our athletes can do even better," said Keelor.

Incidentally, India is the first country to accord priority status such an organisation and taking the cue from SOB and Indian government, several other Special Olympic committees the world over want to impress upon their governments to follow suit. "In fact, more and more requests are coming in from various places asking me how to go about it (seeking the priority status) with their ministries," said Keelor.

SOB's athletes won 110 medals in the last world meet and it wants to add at least 30 more medals to the kitty. "But it is not going to be easy, particularly because China have improved by leaps and bounds and, mind you, they are the hosts. Nevertheless, I can assure you that it will be definitely more than what we achieved in Dublin last time."

Another first at the world meet will be the inclusion of cricket on the initiation of Special Olympics Bharat. "Everybody seemed impressed after the World Cup last year and the organisers in Shanghai instantly included this discipline. We have to win the gold to justify our initiative," Keelor said.

Meanwhile, the Air Marshal is keen on getting the second camp started in Bangalore, beginning June 1. The 10–day camp will see 139 athletes (89 male and 50 female), 45 coaches, 13 support staff going through the grind with four doctors on duty. There will also be three heads of department overseeing the training programmes and taking note of all that needs to be done to improve. The first camp in Goa got over in the first week of February.

The last camp, to be held in Delhi, would begin in September until the team departs for Shanghai for the world meet to be held between October 2 and 12. India will compete in 13 disciplines, including cricket.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=238403

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Overcoming odds to reach the top

If disability were a challenge, students of this category have faced it heads–on yet again. Of the 664 special category students appearing in the Delhi region for the Class X–CBSE boards this year, the pass percentage is an impressive 75 per cent. But only one student scored more than 90 per cent the highest in the country. With 95.2 per cent, Dhruv Jain from Delhi Public School who is 60 per cent hearing impaired has bagged the first position.

An IIT aspirant, Jain scored over 95 marks in all subjects except English where he scored 85 marks. Language, says his father, is his son's Achilles heel. "He can't hear, so he can't write. Language is all about communication," said Dr. Aloke Jain.

"We were really worried about his weakness earlier, especially when kids made fun of him," said his mother, Dr. Ruchi Gupta. Watching their son charge ahead in the mad rat race gives the Jains the confidence their son will find his niche in life.

"With determination, will power and a healthy environment, anyone can perform," said the proud Principal of DPS, Mathura Road, M.I. Hussain.

An IAS officer in the making, 14–year–old Ram Das Shivhare who is visually challenged, has also proved himself in the CBSE examinations. A student of Jormal Periwal Memorial Senior Secondary School for Blind Boys in South Delhi, he secured 79 per cent. Even though he scored the highest in his school, the teenager is far from satisfied. "I had hoped to secure far better results. My aim was to get the highest marks in Delhi region." "This is just the beginning, I have to struggle hard and become an IAS officer," he said.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx

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Bid to make public places more inclusive

Access audit at Qutub Minar, Pallika Kendra conducted

NEW DELHI: It is a small step that aims at making public places in the city more inclusive. Looking at improving accessibility to Qutub Minar and Pallika Kendra – the headquarters of New the Delhi Municipal Council – Svayam, a non–government organisation, has conducted an access audit at both these places to ensure that these landmarks make a little room for the differently–abled.

While Qutub Minar, a favourite spot for school children on their annual picnics, is the first monument on its list, Svayam hopes to be able to do an access audit on Red Fort next and then gradually include monuments outside the city.

From simple suggestions like providing benches for people to sit down and rest for a bit, the report also has more comprehensive recommendations like providing a model of the site so as to give the visually–impaired an idea of what the scale of the building is.

"We have studied the accessibility report and find many of the recommendations made useful. We will use them to provide better facilities at Qutub Minar," said Director–General of Archaeological Survey of India C. Babu Rajeev.

The access audit focuses not only on people with mobility problems, but also hopes to make the site friendly for those who are hearing impaired. One of the suggestions made by Svayam for Qutub Minar is that the staff at the ticketing counter be provided with a sound enhancing system, as there is a lot of noise during the peak tourist season.

Workshops held
"The access audit didn't take us long. Apart from conducting the audit, we also had workshops with engineers of both NDMC and ASI to help them understand the need for these changes. These workshops helped sensitise them to this issue. We now hope to be able to do another audit once these changes have been made so that we can benefit the end–user," said Sminu Jindal, founder of Svayam.

While the challenges of making Pallika Kendra accessible for the differently–abled was not the same as Qutub Minar, some of the suggestions are similar. Both these places need restrooms, which need to be friendlier to those with disabilities.

Svayam has also suggested that there should be adequate signage in both Hindi and English at the NDMC headquarters. Other recommendations include a tactile path to be laid out from the main gate of the building to the entrance.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/05/28/stories/2007052810090400.htm

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Goa disabled people promised better fare while voting

Panaji : Senior citizens and disabled people electors in Goa will be cared for during the June 2 assembly elections. And for the blind, there will be Braille–enabled electronic voting machines.

According to the Election Commission, special ramps will be provided to the physically handicapped and the elderly. They also would not have to be in queues with the other public to vote.

Campaigners for disability rights in Goa had earlier presented a "manifesto" of their own for the coming polls.

Among their demands were a separate department for the welfare of disabled people; an office of the department in south Goa; 5 percent reservation in government jobs for disabled people; and the filling up of backlog of vacancies.

Also sought were reservations in panchayats, municipalities and the assembly. The Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) also demanded a full–time State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

DRAG president Avelino de Sa said they had written to all political parties, and sought assurances over these issues.

It was announced here in March that new electronic voting machines (EVMs) enabled with Braille for the blind would be used for the first time in the state during the assembly election.

Goa's old 1,400 EVMs are to be replaced with 1,500 Braille–enabled EVMs. Goa has 476 polling stations.

Goa has an estimated 25,000 disabled people, many of whom struggle due to lack of facilities, according to campaigners. Elections are to be held June 2. Counting will take place June 5.

Source: www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/may/27

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Tamil Nadu moots policy for disabled people

Tiruchirappalli: The Tamil Nadu government would bring out a state policy to address the specific needs and welfare of disabled persons, state minister for Social Welfare Poongothai Aruna said today.

Talking to reporters here, Aruna said the department has initiated the preparation of the draft copy in coordination with the State Welfare Board for disabled people and other departments.

She was hopeful of completing the draft bill in another three months. Already the state government of Goa has introduced a policy for disabled people and Tamil Nadu government would try to make certain changes to that policy document.

The basic objective of the government was to change the mindset of disabled people, encouraging them to join the mainstream and make them mingle with the public as any other healthy citizen.

Various problems faced by the diabled would be taken into consideration and it will be a comprehensive policy draft, minister added.

Already, the ministry has taken certain initiatives to redress the woes of the disabled youth. Education programmes in BCom and BCA have commenced in Madras Presidency College.

In cooperation with the ministry of higher education, the courses specially tailored for hearing impaired would be introduced in other government Arts and Science colleges in a phased manner.

Source: www.chennaionline.com/colnews/newsitem.asp

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JMI opens learning centre for disabled people

New Delhi: Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) has setup a learning centre at the Zakir Hussain Library in order to facilitate easy accessibility to the varsity's website and print material for disabled people students and staff members.

Jamia University, Delhi
The learning centre has been equipped with modern facilities including screen reading, optical recognition technologies etc which have been installed using softwares like open book optical character recognition scanning, JAVA, talking-typing teacher software etc.

Disabled people students will now have to just scan the print material and listen to it without any assistance.

Source: www.indiaedunews.net/Delhi

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Jindal Stainless to build bus shelters for Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC)

NEW DELHI: In what is officially described as a first in terms of the sheer magnitude of the project, Jindal Stainless Limited will build, operate and then transfer 225 bus "Q" shelters for the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). Work on this project will begin by July this year.

The Corporation has approved the tender bid of the company which had quoted the highest price among the eight bidders at Rs. 2.11 crore per month for 225 bus shelters.

"The DTC had fixed Rs. 45 lakh per month for 225 bus shelters as the reserve price for the bid," said a senior official of the Corporation, adding that "JSL was the bidder that quoted the maximum additional concession fee during the bid".

According to the official, the bid had received an overwhelming response with JSL quoting 369 per cent of the minimum reserve price as the additional concession fee fixed by the DTC. "It is a record as BOT projects have never fetched such a high price," claimed the official.

The company will be responsible for maintenance of the bus shelters for a period of 10 years after which they will be transferred to the DTC. The provision for rooftop advertisements will be the source of revenue for the company.

The sleek, aesthetic environment and disabled–friendly bus shelters will also have rainwater–harvesting facility. They are being constructed as part of the DTC's bid to gear up for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. "These commuter–friendly bus `Q' shelters will be comparable to the street furniture in any other developed part of the world," said the official.

The bus "Q" shelters will come up on Ring Road from Dhaula Kuan to the Inter–State Bus Terminus via South Extension. They will also cover the Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations from Rajghat. The sleek bus "Q" shelters will also dot the areas near the Commonwealth Games Village, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.

Beginning in July, the work on the project is expected to take six months to complete. An independent engineer will be appointed to approve the quality of construction and a monitoring committee will be in place to oversee the work.

The DTC also plans to build about 500 bus "Q" shelters in the Capital's rural areas this year.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/05/27/stories/2007052710200400.htm

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ASI plans more ramps at monuments

NEW DELHI, 27 May: In a bid to make Capital's heritage more disabled–friendly, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has started implementation of a plan to build more ramps and wheelchair space for visitors with disabilities.

The plan – which has already started off at the Qutab Minar complex and nearing completion – will soon follow at other monuments too.

Archaeological Survey of India director–general C Babu Rajeev said: "We have already started working on implementing our plan to make the Qutab complex more accessible for disabled visitors. After this, we will follow up on other ticketed monuments also."

The planks used at the Qutab complex are based on a list of recommendations made by Non Government Organisation, Svayam. These planks will be made of wood and not steel as was considered earlier.

"We decided not to go with planks made of steel as those would get very hot in the summer and would also prove slippery for visitors on a wheelchair,"said an Archaeological Survey of India official.

NGO Svayam – an initiative of Sminu Jindal Charitable Trust – has also made recommendations like making more space between metallic rails to maintain queues, construct instructional signages to international standards and in Braille, chisel the uneven edges of the stone flooring to increase mobility of visitors on a wheelchair etc.

Some monuments like Purana Qila already have facilities to help disabled visitors. Humayun's Tomb, which is also partially friendly for the disabled, is also on the ASI's list to be upgraded in the coming weeks.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Delhi

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SC brings hope for this blind student

New Delhi: A two–judge bench of the Supreme Court has stayed the Madhya Pradesh High Court order that barred a visually impaired student from studying medicine.

The road to becoming a doctor is finally clear for Nitin Mantri. This visually impaired student in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh now has the permission of the Supreme Court to finish his medical degree.

Mantri says, "I will fulfill the dreams of my parents and family members. They wanted me to be a doctor and now that the Supreme Court has endorsed our stand I will become a doctor."

Nitin has had to jump hurdles from the time he tried to enter medical school. He was denied admission despite scoring marks above the cut–off, and was admitted only after the Madhya Pradesh High Court said there was no rule excluding visually impaired people from studying medicine.

The Medical Council of India appealed the ruling and a two–judge bench overruled the order after nine months. But now the Supreme Court has sealed the matter.

Petitioners Counsel Uttam Maheshwari says, "The decision to stop Mantri from studying medicine was unconstitutional. There are no rules for visually impaired and thankfully the Supreme Court has come to Mantri's rescue."

On Friday, Mantri returned to the Jabalpur Medical college, but the dean refused to meet him – a reminder, perhaps, that this is one student whose journey is far from over.

Source: http://www.ibnlive.com/news

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City duo beats disability to outrun India

New Delhi, May 25: FOR Monika Gupta and Satvik Dudeja, Friday the 25th would remain a red–letter day. As CBSE declared its Class XII results, the now alumni of Kulachi Hans Raj Model School–Ashok Vihar emerged as all–India toppers in the 'Disabled' category, securing 93.2 and 93 per cent, respectively.

Monika, who took the exams with a fractured leg bound on a wheelchair, was celebrating at school when Newsline met her. Giving all credit to her school, she said, "My friends helped me a lot with study material, as it was difficult for me to take down notes due to my weak vision. The teachers also provided me with magnified photocopies (course material)."

Monika has a blurred retina, a rare condition that makes it extremely difficult for her to read. She used a magnifying glass to study. Inspired by her parents, both of whom are bankers, she wants to study B. Com at Sri Ram College of Commerce. The secret of her success? "Four to five hours of study each day."

Satvik, meanwhile, was at home, listening to music and waiting for his sister; for the evening celebrations would begin only afterwards.

Though disability in one leg, "it was never a hindrance for me", said the admirer of rock group 'Iron Maiden'. Satvik now awaits the medical entrance examination result. "I have always been fascinated by human anatomy; I have utmost respect for doctors."

His secret? Elementary: "NCERT books". Besides the duo, 460 other physically challenged students from Delhi walked away with flying colours in CBSE 2007.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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Bus pass for 10 lakh disabled people

HASSAN: Minister for Women and Child Welfare H.K. Kumaraswamy has said that bus pass would be given at a concession to all 10 lakh people with physical disability in the State. This was decided at the Cabinet meeting on May 15. He was addressing presspersons after a department review meeting at the zilla panchayat office here on Thursday.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said that at present, 50,000 people were being given these bus pass. The cost of a bus pass, which could be used up to a distance of 100 km, was Rs. 1,650 a year. Of this, the beneficiary had to pay Rs. 250, while the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) would pay Rs. 410 and the State Government Rs. 990. The scheme would cost the State exchequer Rs. 120 crore a year.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said that a "Social Security Directorate" would be formed to monitor pensions for the elderly, widows and persons with physical disability.

He said that at present pension was being provided to seven lakh senior citizens, six lakh widows, and 33,000 people with physical disability in the State.

With regard to the much–publicised Bhagya Lakshmi Yojana, under which Rs. 10,000 will be deposited in the name of newborn girls, which is yet to take off, Mr. Kumaraswamy said that 2.25 lakh girls were born in the State last year, of whom 1.3 lakh were from below–poverty–line families and were, therefore, eligible to get the Rs. 10,000 deposit. The deposits would be made in June.

The Minister said that the Supreme Court in its recent judgment had rejected the appeal of the State to regularise anganawadi workers. However, the Government had raised their honorarium and given them special incentives whenever they were involved in survey and other work.

Source: www.hindu.com/2007/05/25/stories/2007052511570100.htm

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Delhi Metro: Disabled–friendly Really?

New Delhi, 23 May, Jaya Shroff: DID SOMEONE say that the Delhi Metro is disabled–friendly? Take another look. That's what we did when this reporter and the photographer accompanied two friends with polio, Ramkumar, on a wheelchair, and Nandkishore, on crutches, on a Metro journey from Rajiv Chowk to Kanhaiya Nagar on a summer afternoon.

Two friends with polio, Ramkumar, on a wheelchair, and Nandkishore, on crutches, on a Metro journey from Rajiv Chowk to Kanhaiya Nagar on a summer afternoon.
Ramkumar, who operates a PCO at Amarjyoti School in Karkardooma, would love to travel by Metro, for it saves time and money, but is hesitant. "In spite of ramps and elevators at Metro stations, it is dangerous for me to travel all by myself," he said. It was the second time he was travelling by Metro. Although he was accompanied by an escort, Jaswant Singh, the trip turned out to be quiet an (mis)adventure for the friends.





Tackling the queue at the ticket counter
As the two joined the long queue at the counter, they were welcomed by half–surprised, half–amused stares, but none in the queue offered to let them buy the ticket before his or her turn. Finally, Jaswant volunteered to buy the tickets for all.

Tickets in hand, the trio tried to make their way to the station. Here was a surprise waiting for them. While Ramkumar was allowed to enter through the special route, his escort Jaswant was not. Leaving Ramkumar to the guards, he entered through the regular gate.

Platform chaos
As the three tried to figure out the way to the right station, improper signage and lack of knowledgeable guards added to the confusion. After several queries, they reached Platform No. 1 using an elevator – some facilities are improving, after all.

But the relief was momentary . As soon as the train approached the platform, there was evident chaos with people queuing up, leaving no space for them. Two coaches in each train in Delhi have designated space for wheelchairs, but there was no one to guide them about the 'disabledfriendly' coaches. To avoid being pushed, they waited quietly for their turn. And just when Jaswant tried to push Ramkumar's wheelchair on to the train, one of the smaller wheels got stuck between the train and the platform. Alert, Jaswant managed to lift the wheelchair in the nick of time and pushed it inside.

They got off at Kashmiri Gate to change the train to the Rithala route to Kanhaiya Nagar. Again a round of queries began before they found their way to the right platform. While Jaswant quickly pushed the wheelchair forward, Nandkishore tried to keep pace, swiftly swinging his crutches. The three reached the platform on the second level but by this time, their irritation was showing. "I wish we had come by car. This seems like a never–ending process," said one of them.

Luckily, a passenger pointed out to them that the first and the last compartments had a special space for the wheelchair.

Rolling and ramming in the train
This was something they were not prepared for: as the train started moving, the wheelchair went sliding between the seats. But since the train had not caught pace by then, no accident occurred. Apologetically, Jaswant regained charge of the wheelchair and told Ramkumar, "Apply the brakes properly and cling tightly to the side bars."

And here he offered a tip for the Metro: "Ideally, there should be some grooves on the floor or some other way of locking the wheelchair. It is bound to slip as the surface is plain." Nandkishore had to ask passengers to vacate the seat for him as not a single person had the sensitivity to offer him the seat in spite of repeated announcements. Eager to get off the train, the three impatiently looked out for the Kanhaiya Nagar station. The train stopped, the crowd rushed towards the doors. Once again, they waited behind all others for their turn to get off. This reporter was left gaping at the door as it closed on her before she could get off.

A successful trip? Day out on Delhi Metro, At every step of his Metro Journey, Ram kumar faced some hurdles, his wheelchair would get stuck in the gap between the platform and the train.

At the end of the two–hour journey, there were some questions swirling in our minds. What if Jaswant had failed to pull the wheel out of the five–inch gap between the platform and the train? If Ramkumar were travelling alone, who would have stopped his wheelchair from rolling and ramming into passengers or other seats?

















Tokyo Subway Station staff is putting portable ramp for a wheelchair user person to board the train easily.
A little sensitivity among co–passengers and more awareness among guards could have encouraged them to use Metro often. In spite of several claims made by the Delhi Metro to be accessible by all, the reality stands rudely different.









Source: Hindustan Times, 24 May, Delhi Edition

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Braille printing press installed at Institute of Blind

Chandigarh: A NEW Braille Printing Press was installed at the Institute for the Blind, Sector 26, today.

UT Home Secretary Krishna Mohan, who was the chief guest on the occasion, inaugurated the newly installed Braille Printing Press. He also launched a website www.instituteforblind.org of the Institute and the Society for the Care of Blind, Sector 26, Chandigarh. Chairman of the Institute for Blind, Maj Gen Rajendra Nath (retd) was also present on the occasion.

Home Secretary Krishna Mohan inaugurating a new Braille Printing Machine at  Institute for Blind, Chandigarh
With the installation of Braille Printing Press, blind students of the Institute would be provided textbooks in Braille Script in all the subjects and in all the languages right from first primary class to Class XII. Now with the installation of this new Braille press, there will be no shortage of copies of books in Braille and all the students will have individual copies of the text. The press was imported from Sweden at the cost of Rs 14 lakh.

Source: Hindustan Times, 24 May, Chandigarh Edition

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Museum plans facility for senior citizens, disabled people

GALLERIES OF the Allahabad Museum, specifically the ones on the upper floor, will now be made accessible to the senior citizens as well as physically disabled people.

Allahabad Museum
The task will be accomplished with the help of construction of a lift in the museum building, the proposal for which is awaiting the approval of the Allahabad High Court.

According to the chairman of the museum Prof RK Verma, the renovation of the museum building will definitely attract more visitors to the spot and thus it is extremely necessary to add a lift to the museum so that the senior citizens and physically disabled people are not devoid of the opportunity to visit the galleries of the first floor. However, the sources have disagreed to the new project and describe it is as waste of money.

It may be noted that numerous proposals are on the cards to make the museum match up to the standards of some of the widely acknowledged museums of national status. The gallery dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, martyr Chandra Shekhar Azad, Rock art gallery and Ganga gallery etc are being added to the museum.

In his clarification of seeking the permission of the High Court for the construction, Prof Verma said that the court had passed an order while taking action on a PIL which demanded stopping of illegal constructions taking place at the Chandra Shekhar Azad Park and also to check any kind of environmental hazard to the park.

"The High Court thus gave an order to maintain the status quo and no new constructions are allowed on the park premises. The lift is being constructed inside the museum building and it is not likely to pose any environmental hazard to the park. But still we feel that it is our duty to seek the permission and in another sense to make it known to the High Court about our new plan," he said.

According to the chairman, the spot has already been chosen for the construction of the lift which is the quadrangular area near the steps leading to the first floor.

"The government of India has sanctioned Rs 10 lakh for the purpose," he added.

Source: www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx

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Disabled–friendly proposals: Delhi University

DELHI UNIVERSITY has drafted a special proposal to make admissions and the process of studying in colleges more "friendly" for disabled people.

Delhi University Logo
A set of recommendations in this regard will be presented to the Academic Council on Wednesday for approval before implementation. Confirming this, Manoj Khanna, an Academic Council member: said, "This change was in the offing for a long time." The proposals aim at making colleges more accessible to disabled students by creating the required infrastructure. "A general resource should be created to provide tuition assistance and special equipment for education and counselling of these students," it states.

There is also stress on safety of disabled woman students. "A vigilance force of student volunteers must be created to ensure safety of disabled woman students," Khanna said.

Source: Hindustan Times, 22 May

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Disabled People fights system to enter civil services

There is hope if you persevere. Kumar Avikal Manu had cleared the civil services examination once before, but he was told that his polio–afflicted right arm made him ineligible. Last week, he cracked the examination, again with his left hand.

Avikal's name is buried deep in the list of 474 candidates that cleared the civil services examination. He was ranked fourth among the disabled this year, the same rank that he had achieved in the 2004 examination, when the government rejected him on medical grounds.

"I had used all the means there were, the right to information law to get the status of my case and petitioning the disability commission for a direction to the government," said the 29–year–old political science student.

Nothing worked, however. Early this year, Avikal even moved to the Delhi High Court to plead for his case.

But he never lost faith in himself or the bureaucratic system that was keeping him out. "How can I not have faith in a system that I aspire to be a part of Of course, it can improve I intend to play my role within the system," he said.

When nothing seemed to be going right, Avikal finally "mustered the courage last year to reappear for the examination". His perseverance finally paid off. "This was my last attempt," said the 29–year–old, a hint that it was a "now–or–never" battle that he had been fighting.

"I hope that I will be allocated a service this time," he added, a trifle uncertain after his first brush with the bureaucracy.

Officials at the department of personnel and training suggest Avikal need not worry this time. Not after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention, added Javed Abidi, disabled rights activist, that prompted government departments to clearly list out services where the disabled can join.

Source: www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx

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Air India to provide 3% quota for disabled people: HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday directed Air India to reserve three per cent of future jobs for disabled persons but refused to pass an order for fulfilling the backlog.

Air India plane and mascot Maharaja
"If the petitioner (Air India) employs further, then the three per cent reservation for disabled people would be applicable," Justice B D Ahmed said while disposing of the petition of Air India.

The Court also said that it could not force the public carrier to recruit disabled persons only for the sake of fulfilling mandatory three per cent quota.

"I cannot direct Air India to employ disabled people even if they have not fulfilled the mandatory criteria. How can the Court direct the company to recruit disabled people when it does not need people. These are the business decisions taken by the company," the Court observed.

The Court passed the direction while hearing a petition of Air India challenging the order of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities which directed the air carrier to fulfill the backlog of three per cent reservation by starting fresh recruitment.

"Such a direction given by the Commissioner could not have been given. It is open for the petitioner to recruit persons for specific purposes. The Commissioner exceeded its jurisdiction by directing that the petitioner must recruit disabled persons", the court said.

The court made it clear that the order given by the Chief Commissioner should be treated as general direction for future recruitments to achieve three per cent reservation.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News

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Polio eradication top priority of UP govt: Mayawati

Chief Minister Mayawati on Sunday said eradication of polio from Uttar Pradesh would be among the top priorities of her government and an extensive campaign would be launched to achieve this target within a year.

Pulse Polio drops to a child during the Pulse Polio Campaign
Mayawati, while administering polio drop to a six–month old girl child at her residence here as part of the Pulse Polio drive, said participation of public representatives was necessary for combating the disease.

She claimed that due to efforts by her government in 1995, the cases of polio in the state had decreased to 88 but later, because of "lack of serious efforts, "an upward trend was witnessed with 546 cases detected in 2006.

The Chief Minister also asked the officers to ensure that every child was administered polio drop and warned them against any laxity in this regard.


Source: www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp

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No arms, but that is not an impediment for Anita

Twenty one years ago, when a girl was born to Phulmati and Tilak Chandra Singha of Balisihahabi village, the couple thought some curse had be fallen them. But today, Anita, born without her upper limbs, is a symbol of a spirit that refuses to be cowed down by any impediment. But that does not seem to be a hindrance.

Anita Singha at her study
Anita has recently taken the Higher Secondary First Year (Class XI) exams using the toes of her right foot to write. "For me, using my right toes is as simple as others using their right hand fingers," says a shy Anita, scribbling on a piece of paper to show how she writes.

"We never tried to look at her differently. But when we took her to the village primary school for admission, the teacher said there was no point enrolling her," said Tilak, who vends vegetables in the local market and runs a family of eight children. Two of his sons, both Class VIII dropouts, are currently in Guwahati, 120 kms away, working as daily–wage labourers.

The family then approached another school, No 2 Ikorani Primary School, and Bijoy Das, a teacher there, took her in. "Bijoy was very kind to take her. After she completed her primary school, we put her in the Danda Saharia Higher Secondary School from where she passed her Class X board exams two years ago," said Phulmati.

"Anita has the highest at ten dance in her class," points out Jyotiprabha Devi, another teacher. "It is amazing to see how she writes at an equal speed like other students who use their hands. But what is more interesting is that while a large number of girls still stay away from school, Anita wants to pursue her studies despite serious disability," she adds.

When she took her Class X finals, the Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA) permitted her to use a writer. "A Class IX girl called Nabanita Deka wrote as I dictated," recalls Anita. But she wrote her HS First Year (Class XI) exams on her own with the school authorities putting her in a separate room so that others were not disturbed. "I want to go to a college, become a graduate and take up a job," says Anita.

"I wish some NGO provides her necessary support," says Bikash Ali, another teacher, who is also a part–time correspondent of a daily newspaper. Ali had once got the local branch of the State Bank of India to give her Rs 1,000 when she had passed her high school final.

"The Social Welfare Department once gave her a grant of Rs 471. That was long back. Once we approached Prafulla Kumar Mahanta when he was chief minister, but nothing came," said her uncle Atul Singha.

Source: Indian Express

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Hearing–impaired student scores 78.3 pc in Class X

THIS 16–YEAR–OLD has overcome all odds to sound out his achievement. Hearing loss which is close to 99 per cent, Rahul Mahajan of Yadavindra Public School (YPS) has scored 78.3 per cent in Class X exams of ICSE (Indian Council of Secondary Examination).

School Vice Principal Komal Singh was all praise for Rahul who studied as a regular student in the class picking up each word spoken by the teacher with great effort. "He has tremendous enthusiasm which has made him do well in the exams," said Singh, adding that Rahul's mother too put in much effort to make him learn.

Asha and Rajiv Mahajan, parents of Rahul, were understandably proud of the achieve ment of their son. "I give full credit to the teachers and the school who have worked hard with him since his disability makes it hard for him to follow the language," said Asha.

A student of YPS since Class VI, Rahul can speak audible sentences but these are broken and the speech is not clear if you talk to him for the first time. His mother said she often had to sit with the teachers in the school to understand what was being taught to him so that she could later work with him at home.

Rahul now looks for ward to completing his Class XII from YPS and then taking up a course in art from Government Arts College, Sector 10. His parents hope he will do well enough in Class XII and join the graduation course.

Source: Hindustan Times, 21 May, Chandigarh Edition

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30 disabled people get jobs during CMs 'Janata Darshan'

Bangalore, May 19: Karnataka Chief Minister's 'Janata Darshan' has brought light in the lives of 30 disabled people, when they were offered jobs in Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) today.

Those who had submitted petition to H D Kumaraswamy were recruited as computer operators, system analysts and teachers, according to a release from Senior Information officer to Chief Minister.

Besides, the Chief Minister sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs 32.35 lakh to 165 people, belonging to backward classes to be disbursed by Devaraj Urs Backward Class Development

Source: www.newkerala.com/news5.php

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Most Corporate Houses Inaccessible For Disabled People: Study

Kolkata, May 19: Nearly 60 percent corporate houses in eastern India are still inaccessible for disabled people with regard to employment while 73 percent of the companies do not have any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy to employ disabled people.

Disability Logo
A joint study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) released Friday evening revealed that 59 percent of corporate houses in the eastern region are still inaccessible for people with disability.

It said 73 percent of the business houses do not have any CSR policies to employ disabled people in their organisations.

To support inclusion of people with disability in mainstream jobs, TCS, a part of Asia's largest conglomerate Tata Group, conducted the study on employability of disabled people in the corporate firms. The CII–TCS study was conducted over a period of three months.

The finding said only 38 percent of companies which had responded to the CII–TCS survey have employed disabled persons.

Altogether 50 companies (35 IT/ITeS and 15 non–IT companies) were approached for conducting the study in West Bengal.

The survey revealed that despite CSR policies in multi–national companies and IT firms, there were many constraints for the disabled persons to get direct access to the industry.

According to the 2001 census, over 20 million disabled people, who constitute 2.13 percent of country's total population.

'We are trying to work out some policies to enhance employability of people with disabilities in the corporate and Information Technology (IT) sector. But as of now nothing concrete has been worked out in our state,' West Bengal IT Promotion Cell head Swarup Roy told IANS on the sidelines of the event.

Tata Consultancy Services is an IT consultancy firm and business–process outsourcing (BPO) organisation with an employee strength of 95,000, Asia's largest among all the Indian IT companies.

'With the increasing job opportunities in the BPO sector, which is projected to be over 600,000 only in 2008, we need to increase employability of disabled in the corporate sectors. The office of the Commissioner of Disabled people, West Bengal ensures rights to the PWD in the state,' said West Bengal Assistance Commissioner, people with disabilities, K.S. Adhikaree during the Friday seminar here.

'There's also a mismatch between the skills imparted by the NGOs to equip people with disability getting into the mainstream jobs and the requirement of the companies. Only six percent of 50–odd NGOs, working in this sector, provide computer training to people with disability,' the report pointed out.

Source: http://newspostindia.com/report

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Special children to get mainstream education

Chandigarh: Jatin Jain, an 11–year–old mentally disabled child, is happy as now he would no longer be studying in a special school of the Government Institute of Mentally Retarded Children (GIMRC), but in one of the government schools in the city. The joy of his parents too knows no bounds, as their child would henceforth get mainstream education.

Gushes Subash Jain, a businessman, "This move will definitely bring about an improvement in Jatin's mental state as he would gel with normal children. Moreover, it would send a signal to the society that these children are not different but a part of the society." Many of the institute's 28 mentally disabled children, with IQs ranging between 52 and 70, have already taken admission in formal schools and others are about to do so.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the UT education department aim at inclusive education being made compulsory in the city to achieve universal elementary education in tune with the PWD Act and the national education policy. GIMRC joint director BS Chavan, who is playing a pivotal role in the project, says, "The efforts toward inclusive education will obliterate the stigma attached to the 'special' status of these children, who are either mentally challenged or with borderline intelligence. The education provided in these schools would raise employment and rehabilitation opportunities for these children in the future."

As many as 4,500 'children with special needs' from 110 government schools and 400 from other centres have been recognised. They are going through medical tests for the identification of the level of their disabilities. After that is done, they would be provided aids to offset their disability, such as spectacles and hearing aids.

Says SSA coordinator Nidhi: "The move will mitigate the disability level so that it does not deteriorate further and push the child into eternal darkness. The programme also lays stress on imparting education to children with special needs along with others in a formal set–up."

Some 100 principals of related schools have already attended a workshop at GIMRC in this regard, where their queries were discussed. More special educators are definitely needed to teach these children. Elaborating on the issue, SK Setia said: "More special educators will be deputed; there are only 10 of these in the city as of now. The objective of the entire exercise is to bring these kids into the mainstream." It indeed is a revolutionary step? not only for these children but also for the society.

Source: Times of India, Chandigarh Edition

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UPSC neglecting visually impaired

NEW DELHI, 16 May: Even as disabled people rejoiced that 18 of their kind have been selected in the 2006 civil services batch, the highest number in any one batch, there was no cause for cheer for the visually impaired. They have been cheated of the quota Parliament promised them in the Disability Act 1995.

The 3% quota for disabled people is supposed, under the Act to be equally shared between three categories of disability 1% each for those visually impaired, hearing impaired and orthopaedically impaired. By law, therefore, there ought to have been at least 4–5 visually–impaired persons in the selected list of 474 candidates. Instead, there is just one.

Visually–impaired candidates, at least five of whom reached the interview stage of the civil services examination, were in deep despair after hearing the results. "This is gross injustice to us. How come all of us who did well enough in our written examination to qualify for the interview did so miserably at the interview that not one of us qualified?" asked one of the candidates.

Apparently, in the advertisement for the 2006 civil services examination there was no vacancy advertised for the visually impaired at all. This, despite the fact that five services have been identified for this category – IAS, Indian Railway Personnel Service, Indian Postal Service, Indian Ordinance Service and Delhi Andaman and Nicobar Civil Service (DANICS).

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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DISABLED CHILDREN, Press Release, Press Information Bureau (PIB)

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has informed that it has already provided certain relaxation and concession to disabled students, namely, exemption to appear in third language in the case of dyslexic, blind students and speech/hearing impaired; physiotherapy exercises in place of physical and health education courses of the Board in class-X and XII.

Read Full Press Release, (PIB) http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=27864

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Secretary General of United Nations on the International Day of Families–15 May 2007

United Nations–Secretary General

The theme for this year's International Day of Families is "Families and Persons with Disabilities".

For many persons with disabilities, their family has been, and remains, a source of empowerment. For others, however, their family has perhaps been overprotective, restricting their growth as individuals.

Tragically, for others still, their family has viewed them with stigma or shame, and has even become a source of abuse and neglect.

In December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century. In its preamble, the Convention reconfirms that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State. It also states that persons with disabilities and their family members should receive protection and assistance so that families can contribute towards the full and equal enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities.

In Article 23 of the Convention, Governments agreed to protect persons with disabilities against discrimination in matters relating to marriage, relationships and the family. They also agreed to ensure the equal rights of children with disabilities with respect to family life, and to ensure that children with disabilities are not separated from their families against their will except when necessary for the best interests of the child. Should the immediate family be unable to care for a child with disabilities, Governments agreed to undertake every effort to provide alternative care within the wider family or, failing that, within the community in a family setting.

Society has a responsibility to persons with disabilities and their families. On this International Day of Families, let us dedicate ourselves to enabling the family, the most basic unit of society, to fulfill its role in ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy full human rights and dignity, and flourish as individuals.

International Day of Families, Statement by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA, 15 May 2007

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BPOs creating openings for disabled people

Drishti, a call centre operated by the visually impaired, formally inaugurated in the city

Mumbai, May 15: THE BIG boom in the BPO sector is now generating job opportunities for the visually impaired and other disabled people. On Tuesday, Drishti, a call centre that will be operated by the visually impaired, was formally inaugurated. The call centre is supported by National Association for Blind (NAB) and many prominent personalities like Navin Chadha, Chief Information Officer, Tata Indicom and Pratibha Patil, Governor of Rajasthan, were present for the inaugural function.

Employees who will be working at Drishti are ecstatic with the move. As 29–year–old Ankush Patil, says, "I love working here as a call centre agent, because I love to talk. I get to talk to people from different parts of India. This job is much more better than my earlier job where I worked as a receptionist. I am satisfied with the salary and working conditions and I find the work very exciting."

A blind girl attends a phone call at Drishti Call Centre
The agents working in Drishti have been trained by experts from NAB and Tata Indicom before they took up the job.

10 visually impaired persons were selected by the NAB Employment Department to work for Drishti on contract basis for an outbound process supported by Tata Indicom. The call centre is located at Worli, and is connected to a server in Bangalore which provides information and contacts to the employees.

Instead of using a computer to access information, the employees at Drishti use a special software developed by Softnet Pvt. Ltd. Bangalore, known as NEIL (Navigation & Expert Interaction Logic) or IVR (Interactive Voice Responses) which helps them transforming data from text form into voice form.

"The Tata Indicom team sends details of the customers in an Excel sheet format. The NEIL software helps the employees to transform this data comprising information like name, address, and contact details into voice format. The updates obtained by the agents are also converted by the software from the voice format to text format and sent back to the main server which is at the Tata Indicom office," informs Pallavi Kadam, Deputy Director, NAB. "The agents will be paid Rs 3 per call and the estimated pay at the end of the month would be close to Rs 9000," she added.

The agents will be making outward bound marketing calls to sell Tata Indicom prepaid schemes, new launches etc.Tata Indicom had offered similar opportunities for the visually impaired at NAB Bangalore and the BPO there has been operational since last two years.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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UPSC results declared, 18 disabled candidates selected

UPSC
New Delhi, May 14: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) today declared the final results of the exams based on the results of the written part of Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2006 in October–November, 2006 and the interviews for Personality Test held in April–May, 2007.

A total number of 474 candidates have been recommended for appointment including 214 General (including 13 disabled candidates), 144 Other Backward Classes (including 03 disabled candidates), 80 Scheduled Castes (including 02 disabled candidates) and 36 Scheduled Tribes candidates.

CIVIL SERVICES (MAIN) EXAMINATION 2006 FINAL RESULT
UPSC results declared, 14 May, Sahara Samay, India

Source: http://www.upsc.gov.in

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Wait for disabled–friendly bus shelters gets longer

BUS ROUTE number 620 – between Hauz Khas Terminal and Shivaji Stadium – was planned as Delhi's first disabled–friendly route. A year later, only 34 of the 70 bus shelters on this route are being reconstructed to accommodate disabled people.

Route 620 was chosen because the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) runs its low–floor buses on this route. The low–floor buses are disabled–friendly and the plan was to make the bus shelters compatible with these buses.

Disabled Friendly Bus Shelter at Hauz Khas Terminal, New Delhi
DTC was sanctioned Rs I crore by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Samarthya, an NGO that is working to make public transport disable–friendly, designed the bus shelters.

"The prototype of the bus shelter was built at Hauz Khas Terminal in March 2006. We wanted to make one bus route fully disabled friendly as an example and this was a dream come true," said Sanjeev Sachdeva, founder of Samarthya. "However, a year down the line, the project is yet to start."

The bus shelters were to have features like ramps on both sides, a height of 380 mm that is compatible with the chassis of low–floor buses, tactile paths, warning strip for persons with vision impairment and space for two wheelchairs.

"The shelters will also have audio beepers and Braille plates with bus numbers for visually impaired people. These shelters will be beneficial for all users – people with reduced mobility like senior citizens, families with young children, pregnant women, people with temporary ailments and also those travelling with heavy luggage," Sachdeva said.

The route runs through areas under the jurisdiction of the New Delhi Municipal Council, NDMC (Shivaji Stadium to Moti Bagh) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, MCD (Moti Bagh I to Hauz Khas Terminal).

NDMC is constructing 34 new bus shelters in its area, Sachdeva said. "Bus shelters in the rest of the area are to be constructed by DTC and there has been a huge delay," he said.

A senior DTC official said the delay was due to the project's cost escalation. "There was a change in the scope of work because it was later suggested that there should be audio beepers and steel handrails, which are expensive. As a result the cost shot up and the project was sent back to the Central government for approval," the official said.

"We have already invited tenders for constructing 225 disabled friendly bus shelters, of which 25 will be for the 620 route," said Delhi's Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf. "The shelters will have the same specifications as the NDMC bus shelters. The 620 route will be totally disabled friendly," he said. Yusuf, however, said that it would take at least eight months for the bus shelters to come up.

Source: Hindustan Times 14 May, Delhi Edition

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Alternative employment for employee, disabled during service: HC

In a significant judgment, the Bombay High Court has ruled that if an employee has acquired disability during his service and is found not suitable for the post he was holding then he should be shifted to some other post on the same pay scale.

Bombay High Court
The judgment was passed while hearing a petition filed by a constable in the Railway Protection Force (RPF) challenging his decategorisation after 19 years of service after a medical report found him unfit to use firearms.

The HC has directed the RPF to appoint him at a post at an appropriate pay scale as an alternative employment.

BC Panicker was appointed as a constable in the RPF in May 1980 at a pay scale of Rs 3,050–4,590. In December 1997, a medical examination found him unfit to use firearms. Following which he was decategorised as a constable and was posted as a peon on the pay scale Rs 2,550–3,200 as an alternative employment.

He had filed a review application before the RPF which was rejected in March 2000. Once again he preferred an appeal before the authorities in April 2000, which is still pending.

As there was no action on his appeal, he finally approached the high court in 2006 seeking that as per the provisions in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, he should be given an alternate employment at the same pay scale and not a lower one.

However, the RPF contended that these rules were not applicable in the RPF. Also Panicker had approached the HC after few years, stated RPF's reply.

A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice SC Dharmadhikari recently criticised the lethargic attitude of the RPF stating, "it is expected of the employers to examine the request of a disabled person and not add to his misery by keeping the request pending for a considerable time." This was in reference to his appeal filed before the authorities in 2000 which is still pending. As Panicker was waiting for the same to be disposed off, he did not approach the HC.

"The respondents (RPF) need to look into their own conduct rather than blaming the petitioner for approaching the court after a lapse of considerable time," observed the bench

Source: www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx

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A device to 'hear' what they can't see

A group of IT students here have developed a device that can enable the blind people to hear what they cannot see or read.

Called 'E–Netra', it costs Rs.2,000–3,000 and it reads texts through an embedded system and converts them into voice that can be heard through earphones.

Right now it can only read text, but later it is likely to pick up prints in Braille script.

The Agra College team that took six months to develop the device and the software to go with it was led by RK Sharma and included his assistants Karan, Mayank, Akshat, Khalid and Jitendra.

Sized like a mobile, the device consists of an automatic zoom camera that will store the text in memory. It will also emit signals if the page is out of focus. The text will be converted automatically into speech. The device can read newspapers, books and even signboards.

"Considering that everything cannot be translated or converted into readable items through Braille script, the new development can be of great help to the disabled," said Vikas Pandit, a professor at the university's IT department.

Source: www.hindustantimes.com

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Haryana Govt. to conduct survey to identify disabled people, says A.R. Kidwai

CHANDIGARH: The Haryana Government will conduct a survey to identify disabled persons in the State so that proper treatment could be given to them for enabling them to earn their livelihood and become active members in the main stream of the society.

These views were expressed by Haryana Governor, A.R. Kidwai while addressing the gathering on the occasion of the World Red Cross Day at a State Level function which was organised by the Indian Red Cross Society and Haryana Red Cross Society at Kaithal today.

Kidwai said that Haryana had achieved distinction in social service as well as it had also become the first state in the country to produce scientific goods and bring maximum area under cultivation.

While lauding the role of the Red Cross Society, he said that Red Cross Society had earned a name in the field of social service and providing basic health and educational facilities to the children of the state.

While referring the progress made by the State, he said that earlier Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab states were the leading states in the country in the field of progress but now Haryana had emerged a leading State in making of scientific instruments, machinery parts, leather goods, clothes and hosiery production besides State was exporting 80 per cent Basmati Rice to abroad. Kaithal, Karnal and Kurukshetra districts were leading in production of rice, he added. The Governor gave away the tricycles, hearing aids and appliances, spectacles and sewing machines to disabled persons. He also honoured Deputy Commissioner, Karnal, B.S. Malik, Deputy Commissioner, Bhiwani, Mahinder Kumar and Deputy Commissioner, Kaithal, Rajinder Kataria and SP Kaithal Navdeep Singh Virk for their meritorious works done in the field of Red Cross.

Source: www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/4025/57/

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New forms of discrimination in workplace: ILO

New Delhi: Contrary to popular belief that younger people have an edge over those older in getting better job opportunities, the International Labour Organisation stated Thursday that younger workers are discriminated against at the work place.

Based on the surveys carried out in its 180 member states, ILO's annual report, called 'Equality at work: Tackling the challenges' states the different kind of discriminations at the workplace.

While gender discrimination remains to be the most rampant form of discrimination in all parts of the world with women getting lesser job opportunities as well as lesser wages as compared to men, new forms of discrimination have been highlighted in the report.

Discrimination against younger workers is one such new form. 'Biased treatment against younger workers can take many forms, one is the payment of lower entry wages on the assumption that they are less experienced, as well as longer probation periods than older workers, ' the report states.

Even in this form, gender discrimination tentacles in. According to studies, young women across the world, irrespective of their nationality and origin, suffer from additional discrimination because of their sex.

Discrimination based on disability and HIV AIDS is also highlighted in the report. According to it, one in five people around the world is born with a disability and 80 percent of them live in developing countries.

However the discrimination meted out to them in the work sphere is alarming. In Europe, for instance the chances of a disabled person to get a job fall from 66 percent to 25 percent depending on the type of disability he has.

In France, only two percent people who mention their disability in their CV get a call for an interview.

In Asia, one in six respondents who are affected by AIDS say that they have been discriminated against at work.

Launching the report, Oscar Fernandes, minister for labour and employment said: 'Right to equality is a fundamental right. Discrimination against HIV/AIDS, against disability and all other forms of discrimination has to be tackled. '

Source: www.rxpgnews.com/india

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Seven Disabled Persons March to Delhi on Tricycles

New Delhi: As the 35,000–strong rally marched through Delhi's streets, it was hard to miss these seven men on hand–driven tricycles meant for disabled people. They led the contingent of marchers from Meerut and joined the rally despite having been denied permission by the district administration.

Seven disabled marchers from Meerut despite having been denied permission by the district administration
''I read about the rally in newspapers and knew I had to be a part of this grand event. I applied for permission to the zila parishad, but when it didn't come through till 7th, I decided to go anyway,'' said 24–year–old Anuj Sharma, a resident of Meerut.

Through the 80–km route, they led the marchers and were even given uniforms by Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangathan (NYKS). But there was no place for them at the camp. ''We kept waiting in the sun for an hour and no one came to tell us where to go. All other marchers have been assigned their tents,'' added Riyasat Ali, who also came from Meerut on his tricycle.

Interestingly, while the age limit of rally participants is between 15 to 35 years, 61–year–old physically disabled Alla Rakhe from Meerut managed to find his way into the march. Father of 11 children, Rakhe has been disabled since childhood and was determined to be a part of the national event.

When asked about arrangements for disabled people at the camp, NYKS director general Dr Shakeel Ahmad Khan said: ''There was some confusion regarding arrangements for disabled people, as their arrival was not planned. But things were sorted out.''

Source: Times ofIndia, 11 May

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LIVING WITH DISABILITY – SRCC student finds herself among friends

AFTER FACING harassment at Pune's Symbiosis Law College for being physically disabled, Pooja Sharma moved to Delhi last year with an 84 per cent aggregate, this wheelchair girl got admission in Shriram College of Commerce (SRCC) but failed to get a berth in the hostel. This reporter visited the campus to assess the magnitude of problems she refused to divulge.

Shriram College of Commerce
"We have only one room that is disabled–friendly It was already occupied by the time she approached us. We have plans to create more rooms," said Principal EC. Jain.

Initially Pooja lived in a private hostel that promised her basic commute to college and back. But when residents of the hostel, including the owner, mocked her and made life difficult for her, she moved out. Pooja now lives in Ghaziabad with her mother. She is driven to college, which has let her take the car inside the premises till the ramp at the rear "The college constructed this ramp after they realised I would need one," says Pooja. "Teachers and students are also accommodating and volunteer to help the moment they see me," she adds.

While seminars are held upstairs, she discusses issues with a handful of students downstairs. "It is important for her development to be exposed to lectures and seminars. Unless she gets an opportunity to grow beyond books, she will be cocooned when she steps out to a bigger, wider world," said her worried father, R.K. Sharma.

"Changes cannot happen overnight, it will take some time. She was the first student on a wheelchair in 80 years of SRCC's existence, but accommodations were made," said Jain.

It is not just seminars that Pooja misses. This soft–spoken and shy student also sits out on the fun and gossip that take place inside the first floor canteen. The one on the ground floor lacks a ramp. But Pooja diplomatically asks the reporter to skip the canteen and says, "I have access to the library and my wheelchair goes inside too." "Canteen is not as essential as classes and the auditorium, which are on the ground floor. The canteen is the only thing I have not been able to work out as there are no rooms available," said the Principal.

Like her peers, Pooja loves to go to 'Uncle Tom's Maggi Point,' located a few metres from the college. But because there are no ramps to connect the road and the pedestrian way, Pooja sits inside the car with the door open while others eat in the makeshift food joint.

Ask her about essential things like banking, and she replies, "My parents usually take care of my monetary demands." Even with modern banking making inroads all over the country, little has been done to help disabled people. Most ATM counters do not have ramps, or the machines are too high for people like Pooja to access. Her dreams of becoming a lawyer shattered long before she could even breathe life into them. With little access to banks and offices, it will be a pity if her MBA dream also faces an untimely death. "I sta have two years to go before I decide my next course of action, but I see myself working and independent," said Pooja, all of 24. "Her real challenge will be the day she moves into the wider world," said her father.

Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was enacted 10 years ago. Very little has been done for uplift of disabled people. Javed Abidi, disability activist

We hope disabled– friendly bus stops will come up soon. Lalu Prasad has promised disabled–friendly coaches even if it means a revenue loss for the Railways. Sanjiv Sachdeva, social activist and director, Samarthya Disability is no longer a social stigma.

Today, there is a greater awareness and acceptance in the employment sector. Even if the process is slow, it's there." Dr. Uma Tuli, Former chief commissioner (disabilities)

Source: Hindustant Times, 9 May 2007

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Mobile courts for disabled people

PATNA: Chief Commissioner for the welfare of disabled people persons has ordered the movement of the mobile court in the state to hear the complaints of disabled people persons fro their speedy resolution.

The court hears the complaints in the presence of the government officials and adjudicates giving necessary directives for the redressal of their grievances, like the delay in the issuance of disability certificates, lax implementation of the provisions of the law for their welfare and other such issues.

The main purpose behind the mobile court for disabled people persons is to take justice at the door of the physically disabled persons. According to an official communique, 2,033 complaints were heard and disposed of on three days April 28 & 30, as well as May 2.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities

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People be protected from disasters

A regional workshop is slated to begin from Wednesday in Kathmandu with the aim of finding out ways to protect the vulnerable population from worst consequences of disasters.

Experts from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, representing government, non–government, and community–based organisations, are meeting at a workshop in Kathmandu from 9–11 May, to discuss how women, children, elderly and disabled people and other marginalised groups can be included when planning and preparing to reduce the risk from disasters.

The workshop will provide an important platform for sharing experiences, exchanging information, and holding discussions related to 'social inclusion in disaster risk reduction', building on the knowledge from the four countries.

Worldwide, the South Asian region, which is among the poorest and most populated in the world, is also the hardest hit by natural disasters. Some 80% of all natural disasters are climate related and about 40% are related to floods. Poor communities, especially in the mountain areas of the region, are both the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the least prepared to cope with them.

The vulnerability aspect is important. Vulnerable and marginalised people women, elderly and disabled people are more affected than others. Hence, disaster risk reduction is of great importance from both a development and a poverty alleviation point of view, as highlighted by one Indian civil servant: "Disasters work like the magnifying glass of a society. They magnify what is good and what needs sincere help. Disasters do not affect everyone equally. Who you are and what you do determine your fate. The strong and the weak stand out. This is true for gender issues as much as for other issues."

During the workshop three books will be launched on different aspects of knowledge related to disaster preparedness: one on the role of gender, and two on the importance of local knowledge in disaster preparedness (see attached summaries).

The workshop is financed by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO) under the project 'Living with Risks Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Preparedness in the Himalayan Region' being implemented by ICIMOD. The project is supporting key practitioners with current knowledge in the field of disaster preparedness, mainly in relation to floods, landslides, and earthquakes; and building capacity in multi hazard risk assessment; as well as providing a platform for interaction and exchange of experiences. Nepal.

Source: http://peacejournalism.com/ReadArticle.asp

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Disabled –unfriendly pavements

They're not level, and are difficult to negotiate for the physically disabled person

CHENNAI, 8 May: K. Ramaswamy cannot use the pavement to get to the Commission for the Rehabilitation of disabled people people near the Thousand Lights Mosque in the city.

Inaccessible sidewalks for wheelchair users
"The pavement is so uneven that I am forced to use the road," says the general secretary of the College Students and Graduates Association of the Blind. "Once, I was almost knocked over by a two–wheeler."

He would rather use the road, as it is more likely to be level, free from obstructions and gaps, unlike the pavements.

T.A.P. Varadakutti of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Welfare of the Physically Handicapped concurs; he says there is not a single stretch of pavement in the city that can be cited as an example of being disabled–friendly.

Unfriendly subways make crossing the road an ordeal for them. A proposal to install escalators at three subways is pending for several months now. Though the contracts have been awarded, the contractors are yet to commence work, citing delays in procuring materials, Highways Department officials said.

Public insensitivity adds to the problem. The pavements outside Aikya, a school for the mentally disabled, were ripped up to create parking space for neighbours.

Improving access to public spaces for disabled people requires just that little extra effort, says Aikya founder–director Parvathy Vishwanath.

The government can involve people with experience of working with disabled people in the planning process, she suggests. Spending a little extra to put in infrastructure such as ramps at either end of a pavement would make life a lot easier for disabled people, she points out.

Source: www.thehindu.com/2007/05/08/stories/2007050814330300.htm

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Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit takes stock of development projects

NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has exhorted all stakeholder departments and agencies to effectively coordinate for commissioning of infrastructure for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Directing them to work in "tandem", the Chief Minister asked the departments concerned to ensure completion of the projects well within the stipulated period. All stakeholders have also been requested to ensure quality control.

Ms. Dikshit was addressing a high level sub–committee meeting on Thursday where a presentation on city infrastructure for the Games was made, which included new flyovers, bridges and stadiums; transport connectivity including parking facilities; improvement and widening of roads, augmentation of power and water supply among other services.

The Chief Minister said a monitoring mechanism had already been created which includes a committee of secretaries under the chairmanship of the Union Cabinet Secretary, which meets every month, two empowered committees under the Union Youth Affairs Ministry Secretary and the Delhi Chief Secretary to ensure fast–track mechanism. A committee has also been constituted under the chairmanship of the Union Urban Development Ministry Secretary to achieve greater coordination among various agencies.

At the meeting it was pointed out that 27 new flyovers and bridges would be commissioned before December 2009 and of these 13 would provide connectivity to the Games Village, venues and hospitals whereas the remaining would provide intra–city connectivity.

Improvement and up–gradation of Thyagraja Sports Complex and Talkatora Stadium were also discussed. Issues relating to new Metro Rail connectivity, augmentation of the Delhi Transport Corporation fleet, High Capacity Bus System in seven corridors and new multi–level parking were also discussed. It was also decided to finalise issue of plying electric buses inside the Games Village.

The DTC would commission 225 modern disabled–friendly bus queue shelters on roads leading to the airport, railway stations and the Games venues by December 2007 whereas commissioning of 197 bus queue shelters in the New Delhi Municipal Council area will be completed in the immediate future.

Construction of two new inter–State bus terminals at Dwarka and Narela would begin by December 2007 whereas redevelopment of the Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar, Sarai Kale Khan ISBTs is in the pipeline, the Chief Minister was informed.

Additional parking facilities for 8,000 cars are being developed near Indira Gandhi Stadium, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Thyagraja Stadium and Delhi University. These include 16 multi–level parking sites to be commissioned by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on build–operate–transfer basis by December 2009. Work on six foot over–bridges has been completed whereas work on another four is in progress. In all, 47 foot over–bridges would be commissioned and escalators would be provided on some of them.

Around 8,000 MW of power would be added before start of the Commonwealth Games for which action has already been initiated.

The Chief Minister was informed that a 20–bed polyclinic in the Games Village with network connectivity to super specialty hospitals would be commissioned whereas up–gradation of five existing hospitals would be ensured. Issues related to improvement of areas around Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations, improving street lighting and signs; adequate fire protection and beautification and landscaping were also discussed

Source: The Hindu

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Social Behavior Differs in Children with Family History of Autism

The baby brothers and sisters of autistic children do not seek emotional cues from adults, or respond to them, as often as other toddlers do, suggests new research from the University of California, San Diego.

The study is the first to investigate "social referencing" behavior in children from families at high risk for autism and also points to profound differences in related measurements of brain activity, said lead researcher Leslie Carver.

"Our results," Carver said, "support two important ideas about autism: That those behaviors that are diagnostic of the disorder fall on one end of a broad behavioral spectrum and also that there is a strong genetic component to autism, evidenced by the behavioral resemblances in close family members."

The heritability of autism has been estimated as high as 90 percent, Carver noted, and siblings are at increased risk of receiving the diagnosis themselves: About 8 percent will go on to develop the disorder, as compared to about .5 percent of the general population.

Social referencing involves checking in with the emotional displays of others (especially those we expect to be knowledgeable about a novel situation) and regulating our own emotions and behavior in response. It is something most of us do and do without thinking. On spying a new caterpillar in the park, a young child might turn to find a parent's smile before toddling over to take a closer look. And an adult, startled by a sudden jolt on an airborne plane, might seek out the expression of a flight attendant to determine whether that was just a nasty bit of turbulence or something really worth worrying about.

Typically, social referencing begins to emerge toward the end of the first year of life. But in individuals with autism, this behavior, along with several other aspects of social cognition, is characteristically impaired.

The current research is in line with earlier work demonstrating that first–degree relatives of autistic children often display milder, or subclinical, features of the disorder. Carver and her colleagues, UC San Diego psychology professor Karen Dobkins, doctoral student Lauren Cornew and post–doctoral researcher Joseph McCleery, tested 18 high–risk toddlers (18–month–old siblings of children diagnosed with autism) and compared their results to those of 28 age–matched counterparts who had no family history of the disorder.

In the behavioral portion of the experiments, the children were presented with three novel and ambiguous toys –– toys that could be taken as either good or bad, scary or fun, or neither –– and their caregivers were trained to react with facial expressions and vocal signals that were positive, negative and neutral. The interactions were videotaped and later analyzed.

After the behavioral testing, the children were shown pictures of the same toys and their brain responses were measured –– specifically by tracking ERP (event–related potential) activity, or the electrical activity of groups of neurons firing in synchrony in response to a specific event. The high–risk toddlers differed in almost every element of social referencing, the researchers found: Though they sought emotional information from adults as quickly as the low–risk toddlers, they did so about 30 percent less frequently, and they did not respond to the adult's information in ways that were consistent with the adult's reaction.

Brain–activity measurements told a similar story: Where low–risk children showed the expected magnitude of neural response to emotionally tagged objects, the high–risk ones did not. And where the brain activity of low–risk children correlated with their behavior regulation, this pattern was not observed in the high–risk.

"It's as if the high–risk children do not have as clear an understanding of the meaning of an emotion and don't connect it to the object in the same way," Carver said. Data from children who would later go on to a diagnosis of autism are not included in the study results.

Carver, an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Developmental Cognitive and Social Neuroscience Lab at UC San Diego, is presenting the findings at the 2007 International Meeting for Autism Research in Seattle, Wash. The study is supported by funding from the National Association for Autism Research, Autism Speaks and the MIND Institute at UC

Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070504133302.htm

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Chief Minister Assures Help to Disabled Children

NAHAN, HIMACHAL PRADESH: CHIEF MINISTER ASSURES HELP TO CHILDREN: Physically disabled children deprived of help under the Sarv Shiksha Abhyan (SSA) allegedly by project officers met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh at Haripur Dhar on Friday evening under the leadership of former Member of legislative Assembly (MLA) of Nahan Kush Parmar.

The CM assured children, their parents, panchayat presidents and other social workers of the district accompanying them that they would get benefit under the home–based programme for physically children.

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Help finally arrives for disabled brothers, Orissa

HELP IS FINALLY ON THE WAY FOR 70 YEAR OLD HAKIMUDDIN OF ORISSA AND HIS THREE PHYSICALLY DISABLED SONS WITH THE DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION PROMISING ASSISTANCE AFTER THE IMPOVERISHED MAN WROTE TO INDIA'S PRESIDENT SEEKING PERMISSION TO END THEIR LIVES.

The district collector of Bhadrak in Orissa constituted a team of doctors and administrative officials to conduct an inquiry on the condition of the poor family in Kamalpur village. His move came after the media highlighted Hakimuddin's plight.

'The collector has sought a detailed report within 24 hours,' an official said Sunday.

'The teams will inquire about their physical and economic conditions and the district administration will provide necessary assistance based on their report,' District collector Nalinikanta Burma told IANS.

Hakimuddin's three sons, Raffiuddin, 35, Mayiuddin, 33, and Mustaffa, 30, are stated to be suffering from a rare genetic disease – that weakens the limbs – since they were 15–years–old. They have no money to seek treatment.

'Doctors at the district headquarters hospital couldn't cure the disease. I have already spent all my money for their treatment. I don't have the means to consult renowned physicians outside the state and even in the SCB Medical College at Cuttack. Nobody is coming forward to help me,' Hakimuddin had earlier told IANS.

He and his wife have worked as daily wage labourers and managed to make ends meet for their seven–member family. Hakimuddin has so far dutifully looked after his three disabled sons.

He applied for mercy deaths as despite repeated requests, neither government officials nor local political leaders did anything for his family.

'In my letter to the President of India, prime minister and Orissa chief minister, I have urged them to take responsibility for my sons or else allow us to end our lives,' Hakimuddin had said.

Meanwhile, his sons have been given shelter by a voluntary organisation called CRS and will undergo preliminary treatment there.

'We will provide wheelchairs to the three physically disabled youths and appoint a physiotherapist for their treatment to control further damage to their limbs,' said Bhagaban Parida, secretary of CRS.

Source: www.indiaenews.com/health/20070506/50441.htm

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No separate quota for disabled people at JNU this year

New Delhi, May 06: No separate three percent reservations will be provided to disabled people students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in case the Supreme Court clears the air for the implementation of 27 percent quota reservations for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Jawaharlal Nehru University
Vice Chancellor of JNU Mr. B.B. Bhattacharya said, "There will be no separate disability quota reservation under each category. Students falling under such categories will however be given preference to maintain the overall three percent quota for disabled people."

The varsity already has 22.5 percent of the total seats reserved for the SC/ST students and implementing another 27 percent reservation for the OBCs (which is bound to be implemented) and a 3 percent reservation for disabled people will result in violation of the 50 percent reservation limit order by the Supreme Court.

However, if the Supreme Court does not go ahead with the OBC quota reservations from this year, only then will the varsity provide the 3 percent reservation for the physically–challenged students.

Source: www.indiaedunews.net/Delhi

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Rs 4 crore each: Qutub Minar, Red Fort earn big bucks

REVENUE FIGURES FOR 2006–07 FISCAL STATE THE OBVIOUS: THE TWO ARE DELHI'S MOST VISITED HERITAGE STRUCTURES

New Delhi, May 5: ONE is the world's tallest ancient brick minaret and the other a symbol of India's modern meeting its past. Centuries later, both the Qutub Minar and the Red Fort are the highest revenue grosser among the Capital's heritage sites. According to figures put forward by Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni in the Lok Sabha last week, the Qutub is Delhi's most–visited tourist spot. Qutub and Red Fort earned the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) Rs 4 crore each in revenue in the 2006–07 financial year.

Qutab Minar, Red Fort
The two are followed by the Humayun's Tomb, which earned the ASI Rs 2.76 crore in revenue in the last fiscal. Completed in the 13th century, the Qutub is part of UNESCO's world heritage sites and is also used by the tourism department as a venue for various cultural festivals.

So what makes it stand out? "The architecture and carvings are the best part about Qutub Minar it is my favourite among all monuments I have visited till date," said Emily, a tourist from England.

For French tourist Laila, however, Shahjehan's fort, built in 1546, rules. "I have been in Delhi for four days," she said, "and the Red Fort is my favourite. But the most interesting aspect about Qutub Minar is that it was built by three rulers (spanning over 200 years)."

Devesh Kumar of Capital City Tours, which arranges sightseeing trips in the Capital, said the landmark monument is gaining in popularity faster in the Internet age. "After visiting it people write about the Qutub on blogs, or put up pictures on the Internet,' he said. "It is also popular because it is well–kept and treasured by the government."

ASI officials, meanwhile, said the agency is working towards making the monuments disabled–friendly. "We are working with an organisation called Swayam to construct ramps and braille signs," an ASI official said.

In an attempt to boost the cultural and heritage value of the protected monument, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) organises three Qutub festivals every year between October and November. With the Commonwealth Games drawing close, Qutub Minar and the city's other heritage sites is set for a facelift. "We will get Rs 2 crore from the tourism ministry for the Qutub," the official said.

But figures show some Delhi heritage sites, like the Sultan Garhi archeological park that houses several monuments and Khan–i–Khana tomb in Jangpura, hardly attract any tourists. The two structures grossed the lowest revenue among the city's heritage sites in the last three years.

The 15th–century Khaan–i–Khas tomb, which is said to have been inspiration for the architecture of Taj Mahal, remains a ruin hidden amid encroachment and slums. It managed to add only Rs 2,375 to the tourism ministry's coffers in 2006–07.

The ministry, according to figures revealed to the Lok Sabha, earned more than Rs 63 crore from protected monuments and heritage sites in the last financial year. Rs 2,375

Khaan–i–Khas tomb's earnings – the least among city heritage sites in 2006–07

The top–5 grossers

Taj Mahal: Rs 14.8 crore
Agra Fort: Rs 7.8 crore
Sun Temple, Konark: Rs 13.4 crore
Red Fort and the Qutub: Rs 4 crore each
Humayun's tomb: Rs 2.76 crore


(Figures revealed by tourism minister in Lok Sabha)

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php

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Father wants 'mercy deaths' for disabled sons

Bhadrak: A father of three young men, all physically disabled, wants the state to either take care of them or, as a mark of mercy, allow them all to die.

Unable to sustain an endless pain of having to support three disabled siblings, Hakimuddin Khan, a daily–wage labourer of Kamalpur village in Bhadrak, has written to the country's President, the Prime Minister and the chief minister in Orissa.

"I have urged all of them to take the responsibility of my three disabled sons or else give us the permission to die," said the 72–year–old father of Raffimuddin (35), Hapimuddin (33) and Mustaf 28.

"There is no point in living like a vegetable. None of us can stand or move an inch without our parents' help. It's a really helpless situation for everyone in our family. I don't know what is going to happen to us when they die," Raffimuddin said. "I have tried all my resources to cure them, but no luck yet," Hakimuddin, who also has two daughters.

According to the doctor treating disabled people brothers, it is an extremely rare genetic disorder. "Not more than three in a lakh suffer from this ailment," D K Samantaray said.

The Khans' streak of bad luck also came in the form of the Super Cyclone in 1999. "It badly damaged my impoverished thatched house, which hasn't been repaired since," Hakimuddin said. "Unfortunately, his name does not figure in the BPL list, a reason that has denied him a chance to get a house under the Indira Awas Yojana," said neighbour Samsuddin. Additional district magistrate Prafulla Mohapatra said, "A copy of Hakimuddin's prayer has reached the district collector's office. We would certainly take all possible measures to reduce his problems."

Source: Times of India, 4 May, Hyderabad Edition

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Most disabled people unaware of govt schemes

Pune: Lack of awareness among disabled people people about the various government welfare schemes and the documents required to avail the same has deprived them benefits of the schemes.

This was disclosed by Shubha Karandikar, a member of Sneh Prakash Mitra Pariwar (SPMP) – a group set up to assist disabled people and their parents while speaking to TOI about the basic problems being faced by the such people.

Karandikar said there were three types of schemes under which disabled people people can get assistance. Under the physical rehabilitation scheme, equipment like walking sticks, calipers, shoes and spectacles were offered, while under education rehabilitation, scholarships were offered to students in the groups of Std I to IV, Std VIII to XII and above Std XII. Visually–impaired students get a tape recorder and 10 blank cassettes as educational aid, she explained.

They can also receive assistance for financial rehabilitation and self–employment. To be eligible for the scheme, the candidates should have received vocational training in making chalks, candles and other articles from a government–recognised institution. They also get funds for starting their own business from state government and nationalised banks, Karandikar said.

Elaborating on the requirements for availing the benefits, Karandikar said the beneficiaries should possess a medical certificate to prove their disability. This will help them in getting an identity card from the zilla parishad to procure application forms for the schemes.

Karandikar said the physically disabled can get income–tax benefits, passes for travelling in trains and state transport buses and three per cent reservation in technical field jobs. But very few people employ disabled persons, she revealed.

Speaking about SPMP, Rekha Kanitkar said the group was set up by seven likeminded friends, who were inspired by social worker Anutai Bhagwat. "There are different organisations for the visually impaired, hearing–impaired and the physically– and mentally–disabled, but our organisation works for all disabled people," she said.

The organisation meets at 5.30 pm on every third Friday of the month at Ruia School on SP college campus. Problems faced by disabled people persons and their parents are looked into. Exhibitions of products made by them are also held.

One parent, Subhash Munot, said his daughter Pooja, a slow learner, had exhibited her hand–made jewellery at one of the exhibitions. "Anow now, she is working as a teacher in a school for slow learners," he said.

HELP AVAILABLE

Physically disabled can get income–tax benefits, passes for travelling in trains and state transport buses
They have three per cent reservation in technical field jobs
State government, nationalised banks give loans to start business
Assistance also available for financial rehabilitation and self–employment

Source: Times of India

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Buggy comes to aid of elderly, disabled people

Bangalore: Sleek four–seater electric cars will make boarding trains easier for the physically disabled, ill and the aged at the City railway station.

Buoyed by the success of the pilot buggy that was introduced, the railway station has decided to bring in more in the coming months. About 1.7 lakh persons use the railway station everyday and several of them need this facility everyday.

Additional divisional railway manager told The Times of India: "We started with one and we have the second one running now, which is free of cost for passengers. If we get sponsors we would like to introduce some more. This is a dharam ka kaam.''

The four seater, electric car, called the buggy, has proved a great hit with the physically disabled over the past few months that it has been operational. Buggy driver P Satyanarayana shares his experience: "We have a very high demand. Even as we are dropping one passenger, relatives or friends of other passengers stretch out their hand and try to stop us.''

Satyanarayana is always in a rush to drop off passengers to an autorickshaw or picking them up from the parking lot and ferrying them to their platforms. When Satyanaraya picks up a passenger and finds one train blocking the exit on one platform, he quickly turns around the highly manoeuvrable buggy and tries another route. He does not give up hope. Meanwhile his mobile phone rings, and the caller pleads,"Please pick me up. I am waiting, we have just 30 minutes to go for the Kacheguda Express.''

A physically disabled G M R Vedavathi, an officer with the Corporation Bank, was picked up by this buggy on Saturday even as she was waiting to take the train to Chennai. Vedavathi was surprised and grateful that the service is 'free.'

The buggy ferries about 25 passengers. But there is a need for at least four more vehicles in Bangalore city station alone, and a few more in Yeshwantpur.

According to members of Mitra Jyothi, an NGO that spearheaded a campaign to start buggies, there is also a need for more wheelchairs in the stations, ? at least one per platform.

There was a provision in Union railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav's recent railway budget to have these vehicles as a part of their disabledfriendly measure. And Bangalore was the first station in the country to have this facility. Chennai introduced it soon after.

To reach the buggy call 9900789789.

Source: Times of India, Bangalore Edition

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Helping hearing impaired choose their husbands

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) In a unique bid to help hearing–impaired women find a suitable partner, an NGO here has teamed up with a leading marriage portal to hold a traditional marriage ceremony Wednesday.

Into its 15th year now, the swayamvar, which is the traditional process of a woman selecting the man she wants to marry from a gathering of suitors, is gaining popularity as applications pour in from across the country.

The special initiative is being organised by the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women (DFDW) in association with Shaadi.com.

"Last year we had 15 women getting married to the man they chose in the swayamvar. This year we have 52 people registered," said Indu Sabharwal of DFDW.

"This is an ideal opportunity for hearing impaired men and women to meet under the same roof, along with their guardians, and choose the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with," she added.

The Pranay Milan Sammelan 2007, as the event is called, is expected to attract last minute registrations too.

"We expect at least 10–15 last minute walk–ins as well. With the portal's involvement, the number of people registering has risen," Sabharwal said.

Source: http://mangalorean.com/news.php

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Visually impaired models steal the show

BALASORE, 1 May : On the face of it, they were like any other child model but when they walked the ramp against the backdrop of the hit numbers of Hollywood sensation Shakeera, the audience were left spellbound.

For four students of Ranipatana blind school, this fashion show was truly memorable.

Organised by the Raghunath Jew School of Management Studies (RJSMS) at RJ Vidyavihar on Sunday evening, the show was the highlight of the convocation ceremony and annual day function, 'The Xcite–07', of the ISO–9001 certified management college.

"I was on cloud nine when the audience applauded. I enjoyed it very much. I would thank all the students and teachers of the college for giving us such an opportunity and making us famous for one evening," said Kunimani Behera (14), a student of Class V.

Behera and her three colleagues – Laxmi Priya Sethi, (Class II), Pratyush Pakal (Class III) and Saroj Das (Class VIII) – had rehearsed for the show for over a fortnight under the supervision of Sujata Nayak, branch head for the show.

Four students of the fashion technology branch of the college had designed the dresses for them.

"We wanted to bring the visually challenged children to focus. Although we have been organising fashion shows for the last four years, this was our first experiment with blind students," said Santanu Pani, founder director of the college.

Earlier, the ceremony was inaugurated by Rotarian SK Tamotia, Resident Director (Orissa) Vedanta Groups. He also awarded MBA degrees to the students. BK Das, joint director of Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, attended.

Source: www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp

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Kolkata NGO enabling physically disabled kids to learn and rise

Kolkata: A voluntary organisation at Garia in Kolkata is making an attempt to transform the lives of disabled children by providing them with a platform to lead a normal life.

Disabled Child Garia Saathi, the non–government organisation, aims to instil confidence among the physically disabled and hearing–impaired children. It intends to enable the specially chosen kids to live just like normal students do.

The NGO was founded two years ago by a group of nine like–minded individuals. Today, it focuses on students living below poverty line who fail to access proper education and lead a normal life.

To locate students with such disabilities, the members of Garia Saathi conducted a private survey in remote villages of South 24–Parganas and selected a few of students.

These students are given hearing aids, to enable them to gradually speak and do things on their own. They are not taught sign languages. The hearing aids are checked by experts once in a week free of cost.

After counselling and depending on the student's ability, the teachers give them behavioural training and exposure to mainstream academics through basic literacy. They are taught about the basic requirements in everybody's life. They students are also taught to recognise colours, birds, animals and vegetables. The trainers claim that most of the children have joined normal schools and are studying like other normal students.

The students are also given extensive voice training so that they can talk. It is followed by preliminary education in which they are prepared for tests conducted in regular schools.

"They are first given counselling and depending on it we put them in categories. Some are given behavioural training whereas others whom we feel can develop are trained so that they can join the mainstream," said Mitali Dutta, teacher, Garia Saathi.

Besides, parents are also informed how such children should be handled or taken care of in everyday life. Parents, meanwhile, are happy at the initiative taken by Garia Saathi and the social responsibility being performed by its members for their children suffering due to physical disabilities.

"The teachers trained my daughter and now she is studying in a school with normal children. She has cleared the test and is in the first standard," said Chandrani Chakroborty, one of the parents.

Source: http://www.newkerala.com/news.php

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India next only to Nigeria in polio cases

New Delhi, PTI: Rising polio cases continue to show the country in poor light as it stands only next to Nigeria in the number of cases reported across the world this year.

Pulse Polio drops to a child during the Pulse Polio Campaign
While 54 people were afflicted in Nigeria with the virus till April 17 this year, India reported 31 cases, according to an official of the National Pulse Polio Programme.

''A total of 111 polio cases were reported globally this year till April 17. Out of which 54 cases were reported from Nigeria, while we registered 31 cases,'' he said.

Following this, the Union Health Ministry has intensified its campaign to eradicate polio. ''An estimated 89 million children will be vaccinated this month alone,'' the official said. Last year, 674 polio cases were reported, while in 2005, 66 cases were reported.

''We have intensified our polio campaign early this year in the high–risk areas so that we could target the virus before the onset of summer when it becomes active,'' he said.

Drive intensified
The polio drive has been intensified following the suggestions of the India Expert Advisory Group on Polio in December 2006. The official said the Ministry plans to control the virus from circulating during its peak season of September–November.

Last year, the first round of polio vaccination had started in April, while this year, the campaign was launched in January itself. Out of the 31 cases reported this year, 16 cases were reported in UP, 11 in Bihar, two in Andhra Pradesh and one each in Haryana and Maharashtra.

POLIO CASES IN THE COUNTRY

Press Information Bureau, PIB (press release), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, India

Rajya Sabha As of 17th April 2007, total cases of Polio reported globally are 111 out of which 31 cases are from India and 54 are from Nigeria. The number of polio cases reported during the last three years, State wise can be seen at Annexure-I. Read More...

Source: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx, Press Information Bureau (press release) website, http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp

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Visually–Impaired student denied admission

Bangalore : Vaishnavi Kasturi (21) is determined to get an answer from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, why she was denied admission to the prestigious institution. The visually impaired student is closer to her quest with the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) sending her request under the Right to Information Act to the Central Information Commission.

Vaishnavi thought she had achieved her childhood dream to pursue an MBA when she cleared the CAT examination with a score of 89.29 per cent. With IIM–B setting a cut off of at 86.42 for disabled candidates, she expected to qualify for the next round of tests. However the call never came.

Not the one to take things lying down, Vasihnavi asked the IIM–B to give her information about the credentials of the other candidates with physical disabilities who had made it to the final list. This request was denied following which her family turned to the RTI to compel the institution to come up with answers to their questions. Vaishnavi's father R K Kasturi while talking to TNS said he was subsequently called for a meeting by the IIM–B authorities who told him that the other candidates in the disability group had work experience or were graduates. "Since I did not have an answer for my daughter we decided to go ahead with our RTI application", he added.

During the second hearing of Vaishnavi's application, the KIC ruled that despite substantial funding from the state government, the IIM–B did not come under the jurisdiction or control of the state government. It noted that the IIM–B did not get recurrent funds from the state government and therefore did not come under its control. While sending her application to the Central body, the KIC requested the Central Information Commission to expedite Vaishnavi's case.

Source: www.tribuneindia.com/2007/20070430/main4.htm

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Over 100 students attend Chrysallis workshop

Over 100 students from the city and around, including normal children and those with disability, took part in a workshop organised by NGO Chrysallis Performance Arts Centre for the Challenged, Bangalore, in Chandigarh on Monday. Chrysallis organised the workshop in association with Society for Rehabilitation of Mentally Challenged as part of its 180–day national campaign to encourage children with disabilities and normal children to study and play together.

According to a press release, there were two activities. In the first one called 'Know Your Special Friend,' a team of one disabled child and one normal child, guided by a volunteer, sat together to draw and paint a placard to convey a message of caring and sharing, acceptance of each other's talents and disabilities. The second activity was an exhibition of placards.

After the exhibition, the painting with the strongest message on integration will be carried by a Chrysallis volunteer biker, who would ride alone across the country.

Source: Hindustan Times, 1 May 2007, Chandigarh Edition

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