Sunday, July 28, 2013

'Communication gap' hits disabled students

In my last blog I shared my letter to Secretary, DDA and Chairman NHFDC on the MoU with inaccessible PNB bank. Today's 'The Statesman' has picked up the story:

'Communication gap' hits disabled students
  • The Statesman
  • 28 Jul 2013  

Kinjal Sharma

NEW DELHI, 27 JULY: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was recently signed between the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), set up by the ministry of social justice & empowerment, and Punjab National Bank (PNB), to help students with disabilities get educational loans. However, bank officials appear to be clueless about the agreement leaving the students at the receiving end.

 As per the terms of the MoU, educational loans will be made available to persons with disability (PWD)s through  particular branches of PNB. The bank has over 275 branches in the NCR but as per the MoU, the PWD students can approach any of the six retail asset branches (RABs) situated at Anand Vihar, Green Park, Gurgoan, Faridabad, Connaught Place and Karol Bagh, to avail educational loans at concessional rates.

 However, officials at the six PNB branches appear to be unaware of the MoU. Neha Chauhan from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh,  approached one of the six branches to avail the loan, but was shocked to note that access to the bank was not at all disabled-friendly and she had to struggle to enter. There she was even more shocked as the bank officials where unaware about any agreement between PNB and NHFDC. She returned home disappointed.

The manager of PNB's Green Park branch, Mr Vijay kumar Setia, said he has no idea about the MoU.  "I did not receive any formal guidelines in this regard. I will check with the concerned department. Sometimes, banks receive such information in a particular time span. It may not be received within a week. After getting the orders, further formalities would be completed," said Mr Setia. The branch manager of the Connaught Place branch, Mr Naresh Kumar Jain, also said he has not been informed about the MoU. Several PWD students said the six RABs are either inaccessible or the officials were not aware. 

 "As everyone is shirking responsibility, it is the PWD students who are facing problems. The NHFDC didn't bother to see whether the RABs were accessible. PNB has not implemented repeated master circulars from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), to make banks accessible. Moreover, RBI does not maintain any record on the number of inaccessible banks and ATMs in India and simultaneously, Department of Disability Affairs has no monitoring initiatives," said Dr Satendra Singh, a doctor with disability, at University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), Delhi.

 "Students with disabilities are caught in this mess and are paying a hefty price. It is high time we strive for our dignity. India has ratified the UN convention whose Article 3 and 9 reserves the right for full and effective participation of PWD as well as accessibility of public places," said Dr Singh.

Source: 'The Statesman' dated 28 July 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

NHFDC’s MoU with inaccessible PNB Branches to harass students with disabilities

University College of Medical Sciences
(University of Delhi)
& Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital
DElhi – 110 095


EU/EOC/UCMS/122                                                                                           Dated: 20 July, 2013
Secretary,                                                      Chairman-cum-Managing Director           
Department of Disability Affairs                                National Handicapped Finance and
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment,              Development Corporation (NHFDC)
Sixth Floor, Shastri Bhawan,                                      Red Cross Bhawan, Sector-12
New Delhi-110 001                                                     Faridabad-121 007

(Through Principal, UCMS & GTB Hospital)

Subject:           NHFDC MoU with inaccessible PNB branches
Reference:       D.O. No.NHF/1/2(3)/Edu-loan/2013/85095 dated 3 July 2013 from CMD, NHFDC
Dear Madam,
Let me first put on record the laudable initiative of NHFDC regarding concessional educational loan facility through Punjab National Bank (PNB) for students with disabilities. However, despite the best possible intention the MoU has a serious flaw that it is made with branches which are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Your urgent attention is drawn to following fallacies:

1. Inaccessible Retail Asset Branches (RABs): The referenced D.O (Copy attached) has the list of six RABs in Delhi. I contacted these branches yesterday over phone and as per their information Faridabad and CP, RAB are on second floor without provision of lift, hence inaccessible. Gurgaon RAB has 3-4 steps at the entrance but the bank official said it won’t be a problem to disabled person as their own Senior Manager is a wheelchair user & he is ‘lifted’ by guards to accommodate inside. Karol Bag RAB also has few steps at the entrance.

2. Incorrect information: The contact details mentioned at Green Park RAB are not of a bank rather it’s a residential number of a lady residing in Central Delhi. They have been getting numerous calls regarding loan and rightly upset because of the whole mess. Also, the phone number provided at the Anand Vihar RAB is a fax number only.

3. Unaware Officials: Most of the officials like at Karol Bag RAB are unaware of any MoU with NHFDC and they need to be sensitized regarding the whole procedure of availing loan.

Against the above backdrop, I would request you to urgently intervene on the following:

A)    Issue directives to NHFDC to include only ‘accessible’ PNB RABs under the MoU and ask PNB to comply at the earliest.
B)    Issue directives to NHFDC & PNB to include correct information and numbers.
C)    Ask PNB to make all their branches and ATMs accessible to persons with disabilities including the Gurgaon RAB where a wheelchair employee is treated with indignity.
D)    Ask RBI to have a data of all the accessible and inaccessible Banks/ATMs in India. Despite various master circulars from RBI, a large number of Banks are inaccessible. My RTI revealed that RBI had no record of number of inaccessible bank/ATMs as on 3 Dec 2012. Please find attached the Times of India article covering this story.

I request your goodself to kindly intervene at the earliest. Any intimation of action taken in this matter will be highly appreciated.
Thanking you,
Enclosure: As above
Dr Satendra Singh, M.D.
Coordinator, Enabling Unit
Equal Opportunity Cell

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dr Satendra Singh selected for the 4th NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2013



Awards in this category are given to people with disabilities who have created an impact in accessibility and universal design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology in their personal/professional capacity.


  1. Mr. Nekram Upadhyay, Rehabilitation Engineering Technologist & Head, Department of Assistive Technology, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, Delhi.
  2. Dr. Satendra Singh, Assistant Professor, University College of Medical Sciences and Coordinator, Enabling Unit, Delhi.
  3. Mr. Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Senior Accessibility Program Lead, Consumer Quality & Engineering Services, PayPal .


Awards in this category are given to people who work for the cause of accessibility and universal design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information & communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.


  1. Ms. Arathi Abraham, Principal Designer, 99 and 1 Design, Chennai.
  2. Dr. Arun Mehta, President, Bidirectional Access Promotion Society, Delhi.
  3. Mr. Bhushan Verma, CEO, GearCraftSolutions, Delhi.


Awards in this category are given to those companies or organisations who have taken up the cause of accessibility and universal design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.


  1. HANDICARE - Indian Association of Persons with Disabilities, Lucknow.
  2. Kriyate Design Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Delhi.
  3. NCR Corporation India Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.
  4. School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal
Source: DNIS

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HC tells Centre to include cancer as disability in bill

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times   Chandigarh , July 04, 2013

In a judgment that would go a long way in healing the wounds of cancer patients, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Centre to consider including cancer patients in the definition of disabled persons in the proposed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012, that is in the draft shape.
The directions came from the court headed by justice Rajiv Narain Raina on a petition filed by a Kurukshetra resident and brain cancer patient, Vibhu Dayal Sharma, who was denied admission in the bachelor of technology course by various institutes under the disabled category. The petitioner had cleared the All India Engineering Entrance Examination-2011.

Justice Raina said, "It is said that the law has always lagged behind and cannot stay abreast of the immediate felt necessities of the time. Once the law is enacted, amendments may take years. The most opportune time for knocking at the doors of the executive and legislature is now…"
Full article at Hindustan Times: