Contents – Debating the Disability Law in India (Issue 10)
Content: Debating the Disability Law in India
Content: Debating the Disability Law in India
By Nandini Ghosh & Shilpaa Anand
Perhaps the major disability groups consider fora, such as the present webzine, rather ineffectual when it comes to lobbying for greater kinds of inclusion. However, we are happy to be presenting groups that are usually underrepresented because of their invisibility, their lack of voice due to multiple reasons or their plain elision because of the mainstream disability sector’s neglect of such ‘marginal’ disability groups.
By Amba Salelkar
The most disturbing observation I had was the abject failure to work cross disability in the opposition to the Bill and while advocating possible amendments. At every stage, certain groups were being nudged into giving up their idea of what was “non-negotiable” for the sake of others – for example, persons with psychosocial disabilities who were constantly reminded that they had their own legislation (i.e. the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, also pending in Parliament) to take care of them, never mind that the mandate of the legislation was solely regarding the healthcare aspect of treating mental illness.
By Shampa Sengupta
The larger disconnect that was felt was however between grass-root groups and big city-based disability groups. Majority of the dialogue that took place during the making of RPD Bill was in English language and between people who have access to internet. Though there were attempts to translate the Bill (2012 version) to local languages and organize discussions around it in certain areas of the country, the dominance of English knowing activists living in urban places throughout the discourse was very apparent.
By Shubhangi Vaidya
While parent organizations have succeeded in putting autism on the ‘disability map’ in India, it is yet to be included within the ambit of any rights-based disability legislation. At the time the landmark PWD Act (1995) was framed, autism was a scarcely acknowledged category amongst policy makers and not included in the purview of the Act, whose most crucial provisions pertain to rights to education, employment, rehabilitation, and reservations for persons with identified disabilities.
By Asmita Banerjee, Rahul Chakraborty & Gautam Chaudhury
Considering the vast population with very limited or virtually no appropriate services, identifying and lowering the barriers at home and community could make a remarkable difference in the lives of many (including persons in need of ‘high support’). The local government, authorities, the civil society, family, and the disabled person herself/himself could play a very proactive role in this process.
By Michele Friedner
I write these reflections as a deaf American anthropologist who lived in Chennai from March 2013 until April 2014. These reflections are informed by conversations with deaf friends in Bangalore, Chennai, and Delhi, visits to deaf organizations in Chennai, watching videos and announcements put out by the Delhi-based National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and closely following deaf peoples’ social media discussions about the RPWD bill.
By Deepa Sonpal
We need to look into the section on social protection in the RPDB and make it the basis of strengthening the disability community, for it is the collective, comprising of all persons with disabilities, that needs to be emancipated as a lot. A few powerful and well placed individuals with disabilities may leave a mark in history, but they are not in a position to change the face/fate of the majority. More and more emphasis needs to be put on how to enable uneducated, semiliterate, and low-skilled persons with disabilities become part of the mainstream development process.
By Jayna Kothari
This kind of a two definition structure within the draft Bill creates a second class status for all persons who do not have a benchmark disability, as they would not be entitled for any of the tangible benefits listed above. If the Bill is passed in this form, the law would have failed to internalize the key message of the disability rights movement – that disability has to be understood not as an attribute of an individual, but, rather, a complex collection of conditions and barriers, many of which are created by the social environment.
As for casting your vote like a conscientious citizen, I can speak first-hand only on what a person in a wheel-chair has to undergo. Imagine having to first negotiate a narrow road with two-and four-wheelers parked so densely that you can forget any idea of going anywhere on your wheel-chair. You try to get dropped as close as you can to the polling booth, and then hobble on a crutch or on somebody else’s arm up the inevitable flight of four or five steps and a further number of steps into the room where you have to show your voter’s ID, and do what you came to do.
By Namitha A Kumar
Hopefully, the draft RPD Bill (2011) based on the UNCRPD would guarantee basic human rights outlined in Article 3 such as non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity and accessibility for persons with Thalassemia as this could mean access to education and employment. Thalassemics India, a patient advocacy association, was extensively involved during the drafting of the bill.