Saturday, September 20, 2014

MCI pulled up by NHRC for failing in its social responsibility towards disabled persons

MCI pulled up for failing in its social responsibility

NEW DELHI, September 17, 2014, THE HINDU

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has come down heavily on the Medical Council of India (MCI) for not fulfilling its social responsibility towards differently-abled persons who avail of medical services and for not educating doctors on how to provide them treatment with dignity.

The Commission has recently issued a notice to the Council based on complaint by Dr. Satendra Singh, a differently-abled doctor at University College of Medical Sciences. He had earlier written to the MCI to include ‘disability education’ in medical curriculum.

“According to the World Report on Disability by the World Health Organisation (WHO), physicians worldwide generally lack training about caring for persons with disabilities, thus frequently compromising their health care experiences and health outcomes. The situation is worse in India as the MCI has failed to fulfil its social responsibility,’’ said Dr. Singh.

Previously, the MCI had instructed all medical institutions in India to submit compliance report on disability initiatives. “Majority of the responses indicate lack of awareness. I wrote again to the MCI to include disability education in 2013, but there was no response. Later an RTI reply by the MCI highlighted how the Council was not able to do justice towards disabled persons,” said Dr. Singh.

Now, the NHRC has demanded that the Council include mandatory access audits in all medical inspections. Also these access audits must include differently-abled persons in the team.

Source: The Hindu

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Delhi Metro continues to be disabled unfriendly

Today's Indian Express reports my yet another nightmare with Delhi Metro Earlier, I faced problems at Kashmere Gate where broken wheelchair was provided to me. The Hindu covered it here. DMRC wrote to me that they have rectified the wheelchairs at above station and assured that it won't happen again.

False assurances! Here's the evidence not at one but two different metro stations.

Whatever the DMRC officials says, the helpers carrying wheelchair users are not at all trained. On the above wheelchair (without footrest), the helper rushed me the moment I sat without realising that my feets are being dragged.

Moreover, they usually carry the wheelchair users to ladies compartment. On a lighter note, everybody likes being surrounded by beautiful faces but on a serious note, it was hugely embarrassing for a male to be in a coach reserved for ladies. Someone who did not see my polio limb said, "OMG! what is he doing here?". Someone whispered, 'he is disabled' and there was a pindrop silence.

This was clear cut exclusion and not at all inclusion. Why cant DMRC officials reserve this coach for elderly and disabled and earmarked the last one for ladies? This coach because it's attached to the driver who informs the helper at next stop.

These things will continue to happen till DMRC involve people with disabilities in customer surveys or policy changes. Also, disabled commuters must raise there voice at each and every act of discrimination. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Disability Court gives DGCA 30 days to prove disabled flyers are not harassed

DGCA given 30 days to prove disabled not harassed

15 Sept, 2014 NEW DELHI: The court of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities (CCPD) has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to reply within 30 days, with proof, that people with disabilities are not being harassed or humiliated at airports and that security personnel have been sensitized towards them. The court wrote to DGCA after a person with locomotor disability claimed he was harassed and humiliated at Hyderabad Airport.

TOI had reported that on February 23, Dr Satendra Singh, who was travelling from Hyderabad to Delhi, was asked by security at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to remove his leg brace during frisking. Singh, who teaches at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, has post-polio residual paralysis and uses a knee-foot-ankle-orthosis (KFAO) also called a caliper or brace, for support.

On March 10, Singh had complained to Arvind Ranjan, director general (CISF) and the CCPD. On March 30, CISF organized a workshop on 'soft skills' for handling disabled passengers where Singh was invited to share his views on frisking of people with disabilities. Top CISF and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) officials were also present at the session.

Source: TOI dated 15 Sept

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

'Appointment includes promotion' : SC on 3% quotas for disabled

Supreme Court clears 3% quotas for disabled, in jobs, promotions 


The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of three per cent reservation for differently-abled candidates in civil services, not only at the stage of their appointments but also for departmental promotions.

Giving a level-playing field to more than four crore people with disabilities in India, the apex court held that the Centre, states and Union Territories were obligated to implement the rules of reservation for this class in the matters of appointment, selection, direct recruitment, deputation and also for promotions. It asked the Centre to show a big heart and give the differently-abled people their due in all central and state government jobs.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha reiterated its earlier verdict that the principle of not exceeding 50 per cent reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for differently-abled people.

The bench expressed its displeasure at the government seeking to adopt a hyper-technical approach, as its counsel pressed that three per cent reservation could be given only at the stage of appointment but not for promotion. The Persons With Disabilities Act provides for three per cent quota for the differently-abled people.

“Appointment will include promotion. You are frustrating the very reservation policy for the disabled — the class for which this beneficial piece of legislation was enacted, by arguing against it,” the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.

Anand sought to point out that the reservation at the stage of promotion may lead to huge resentment, especially among employees in Group A and Group B categories, since many beneficiaries may get ahead of their seniors.

She was placing an appeal against the Bombay High Court order, directing the government to implement three per cent reservation for the differently-abled in civil services recruitment, besides granting the benefit in the matter of promotion too. This order was issued on a PIL filed by the National Confederation for Development of Disabled, which was represented by senior advocate R S Suri and Arpit Bhargava in the apex court.

The bench, however, told the Additional Solicitor General that the objective of the reservation policy, as envisaged by Parliament, was unequivocal that the differently-abled people must get the benefits without technical impediments.

“Once Parliament prescribes for reservation in appointments, it will cover direct recruitment, promotion and even deputation. Our experience tells us that it is one legislation that has never been effectively implemented. In any case, it is a beneficial legislation and you should interpret in a manner so that they get the benefits,” said the bench.

At this, the Additional Solicitor General agreed with the bench and conceded not to press the appeal any further. The court then dismissed the appeal.

The three per cent reservation, as clarified by the apex court in its last year’s judgment, is to the extent of one per cent each for the blind, hearing and speech impaired, and persons suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.

The Supreme Court had in October last ruled in favour of a minimum three per cent reservation for them in all central and state government jobs. Regretting the denial of opportunities to the differently-abled people in the country, the court had quashed the Centre’s 2005 office memorandum and the government’s claim that the reservation policy not only had to be different for Group A, B C and D posts but the quota had to confine to “identified” post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BITS Pilani holds 3rd edition of Junoon (Sports fest for youth with disabilities)

INDIAN EXPRESS. Written by Sumegha Gulati | New Delhi |  September 7, 2014 

Kartavya Khanna with Chief Guest Dr Singh at Junoon

The third edition of Junoon 2014 — a two-day national sports fest for youth with disabilities organised by the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani — began on Saturday. Dr Satendra Singh, Assistant Professor of Physiology at Delhi’s Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) hospital was the chief guest of the event.

The fest began with several games being organised between disabled and other students. Over 200 participants from eight NGOs working in the disability sector — four from Delhi, one from Jaipur and three others from Jhunjhunu and other nearby areas — are participating in Junoon this year.

According to Kartavya Khanna, NSS President and a third-year BTech student at the college, the fest was first held two years ago after the body felt the need to extend sporting opportunities to all youth irrespective of their physical conditions.

“We started this in 2012 as a one-day event when only racing competitions were held. The next year, we thought of expanding it to other sports. So bicycle extravaganza, basketball and volleyball were added in Junoon 2013. This year, bocce (a ball sport), basketball, cricket, volleyball and athletics have been organised,” Khanna told Newsline over phone from Pilani.

Khanna said that disability is often treated as an illness in India and that Junoon attempts to bridge that gap as the fest inculcates a sense of equality among people.

Official website:  Junoon 14 

News Source: Indian Express

Top govt websites are not disabled-friendly

TIMES OF INDIA, 26 Aug 2014, NEW DELHI: An estimated 70 million disabled people in India have no accessibility to the information on top government websites. This is despite Indian government's guidelines for all government websites to comply as per the international accessibility standards. "The fact that the disabled friendly society is still not a priority for the government is apparent because barely 10 states sent their ministers and half that number of secretaries to the Centre's first conference to review disability affairs," said Thaawar Chand Gehlot,the union minister for social justice and empowerment on Saturday. 

Inspite of the ministry of social justice providing financial grant to make websites accessible for disabled under SIPDA (Scheme for Implementation of PWD Act), websites of key organizations like Supreme Court of India, Election Commission of India (ECI), University Grants Commission (UGC), Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Medical Council of India (MCI), National Human Right Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Women (NCW) are still not disable friendly. 

An activist for disabled people, Dr Satendra Singh, wrote to the ECI in December 2013 to make its website accessible for the disabled voters. On receiving no response, he complained to the court of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (CCPD). The ECI however did not respond to CCPD's letter or subsequent reminder as well. On July 31, 2014 CCPD again wrote to ECI to make their website disabled friendly in a time-frame and submit an action taken report in 30 days. "ECI website as of today still remains inaccessible," said Singh.

RTI replies revealed that no institute or university from Delhi ever asked for a SIDPA grant to make buildings accessible in 2010-11 and 2012-13. However, institutions and universities from states like Bihar, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Chhattisgarh have availed these grants in 2010-11, while Puducherry, Mizoram, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan in 2011-12 and Nagaland and Meghalaya in 2012-13. In another incident, DU's University College of Medical Sciences' proposal was turned down as it did not have the signature of the executive engineer. 

"On one hand the ministry is saying that the funds are under-utilized but on the other hand they are turning down proposals of deserving institutions despite the principal requesting for it," added Singh. 

Not all institutes who availed the grant have made their websites accessible. "MJP Rohilkhand University, Bareilly took Rs 4 lakhs to make its website accessible in 2010-11, while Puducherry was granted Rs 10 lakh in 2011-12 to make the website of the Directorate of Social welfare accessible. They are still out of reach," said Singh. MCI had asked all medical institutions to submit a compliance report on their disabled friendly initiatives, yet its own website is not as per the required standards. 

"The root cause of this indifference stems from the exclusion of disabled people in policy making/ decision taking. An accessible website will not only help a person with visual impairment/ low vision but also deaf, cognitive impaired and learning disabled," said Singh. 
Source: TOI

Election Commission warned to make websites disabled friendly

The Hindu, 18 Aug 2014
The ECI has been given a 30-day deadline (from July 31 onwards) to comply and make amends.

Pressure from disability rights activists has prompted the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to issue a stern warning and ultimatum to the Election Commission of India (ECI) asking it to make its website user friendly for persons with disability.

The ECI has been given a 30-day deadline (from July 31 onwards) to comply and make amends.

Dr. Satendra Singh, a polio survivor and assistant professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Delhi, who has been pursuing the case said: “The ECI has been directed to intimate the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities within 30 days about the action taken on the direction.”

Dr. Singh added that while Delhi has made its website accessible for persons with disability the same has not been made available to the rest of the country.

“The visually impaired need to have a user-friendly website to ensure that they are able to make an informed choice before voting. Though we have been appealing to the ECI since December last year there has been no response from them,” said Dr. Singh.

“Despite my letters, the ECI did not budge and did not make their website accessible to disabled voters. There are Prime Minister Office (PMO) orders as well as guidelines whereby all government institutions must make their websites disabled-friendly. However, we are hoping that things will improve now,” said Dr. Singh.

Accusing the ECI of having violated the orders issued by the PMO in 2010, Dr. Singh said: “The current direction by the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities we hope will work favourably for the persons with disabilities and give them the right to vote in a well informed manner.’’

Source: The Hindu