Friday, March 25, 2011

Deaf seek level field on disability


Dear Friends,
Issues of bias within disabilities is becoming a regular discussion point. Though the disability groups try to avoid such a conflicting situation among disabilities and pose a unified front to advocate for their rights, however these issues are now open secrets. The bureaucracy and employers are taking advantage of this and openly discriminating in favour of one disability and against the other while filling up the disability quota provided by the law.
We have seen in the past that the person with less disability is preferred to fill up the vacant job quota. Often those with less than 40% disability (as required by law)  with fictitious certificates claiming to be 40% disability get in to the quota leaving the actual needy stakeholders in lurch. The employers raise no voice because the get (at least that is what the employers think) a more able?? and efficient??? employee in the disabled category which they have to adhere to in terms of The Persons with Disabilities Act. This is one side of the issue.
The other side of the issue is that there is open discrimination within disabilities that currently are eligible to be considered against disability quota in the Government jobs. Those who minor physically disabilities are preferred to those with more severe physical disabilities (such as a crutch user is preferred to a wheel chair user or those with Post Polio Residual Paralysis are preferred to those with Cerebral Palsy, a partial hearing impaired with speech is preferred to deaf, low vision is preferred to blind and likewise..). 
However,  in employment, it is the deaf who get left out. The results of past five years of UPSC exams conducted for Civil Services indicates this bias very categorically. There has to be a mechanism to address such discrepancies which only leads to rivalry among the disability groups. The currently disability law in India only provides for reservation in employment @ 1% each for the Hearing impaired, Low Vision & Blind and Orthopedic impaired. And now we are already witnessing many other groups who have been left out for various reasons from this ambit, raising their concerns vociferously in the consultations being organised for finalizing a new disability law for India in tune with new UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Government should evolve a clear cut mechanism to check discrepancies and subjective biases so that transparency is maintained and justice is done to the stakeholders.  The issue brought out before the court by Deaf Employees Association is an indicator that all is not well and soon you may find courts flooding with similar petitions from other groups. 
regards
SC Vashishth, Advocate
Here is the news item:

Mar 19, 2011, 03.52am IST


NEW DELHI: The hearing impaired on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking parity with the blind and other physically challenged people in government service in promotions and allowance entitlements.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar wanted petitioners — "Deaf Employees Welfare Association" and " Railway Employees Association of Deaf and Dumb" — to make a representation to the ministry of social justice and empowerment about their grievance.

However, solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, taking note of the complaint of discrimination by the hearing impaired government employees, agreed to entrust the concerned department to examine the issues raised by the petitioner through advocate Kamal Kumar Pandey.
The bench asked the two associations to give the SG a copy of their petition and wanted the ministry concerned to report back to the court with its stand in four weeks.
Quoting Article 41 of the Constitution obliging governments to provide effective mechanism and public assistance to disabled people, the petitioners said prior to 1995, there was no specific legislation to address the rights and needs of the disabled people.
The governments confined their efforts to providing medical rehabilitation and removal of the stigma limited to visible disabilities like blindness, orthopaedically handicapped and leprosy, they said.
However, the concept of disability and the social attitude towards it has undergone a radical change since India signed the "Proclamation for Disabled, Full Participation and Equality for Asia and Pacific Region" in 1992. The Centre framed a national policy for disabled in 1993, which was revised in 2005, and provided 3% reservation to blind, hearing impaired and locomotory disabled people in government jobs.
However, the approach of the central and state governments underwent very little change and they have been discriminating against the the deaf employees by not providing them travelling allowance, on-job training and promotions on a par with the blind and orthopaedically handicapped.

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