Workshop studies new Law for person with Disability

Bengaluru, May 17: A workshop held to study the new law for persons with disabilities has urged organizations working among these people to form a network for better impact. The May 16 workshop stressed the need to understand better the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and help the government to finalize the rules that make the law operational. About 40 persons from various nongovernmental organizations attended the workshop, which was the first one conducted in Bengaluru to understand the new Act that the Indian government promulgated on December 27, 2016. The new Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995.

The workshop was held at the residence of the Bangalore Catholic archbishop, who also addressed the gathering. “It is the duty of the Church to respond to the needs of the differently abled persons, following the example of Jesus and Pope Francis,” said Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore opening the workshop. Father George Kannanthanam, who coordinated the workshop, noted that the new act makes India on par with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Persons with disabilities of 2006. The Claretian priest is the secretary of the Commission for the Differently Abled in the archdiocese.

The archdiocese set up the commission two years ago to reach out to the differently abled in the archdiocese and to coordinate various projects for them. The workshop urged that all the various organizations could network together for this purpose by registering with DNA– Disability Network Alliance. Dr Jose Manikkathan and Dr Jayanth Kumar of AIFO, the resource persons, presented the basic principles on which the United Nations convention is built upon: Inclusion, Participation, Respect, Equality and Accessibility. The whole concept is one of Rights and not of charity or pity, which used to be the earlier approach. The Act has fixed the benchmark for consideration for disability at 40 percent to avail any government facility or provisions. One of the major advantages of the Act is to have made the disability certificate from any place valid across the country, a major concern for the persons with disabilities.

The Act has expanded the scope of the definition of disability to cover 21 different human conditions, whereas there were only seven in the old Act. This would enable more people and more affected groups to get the provisions of the Act.

The workshop presented the major provisions of the new Act as:
• Reservation in job and promotion has been raised from 3 percent to 4 percent
• 5 percent reservation in higher education
• 5 years age relaxations in admission
• 5 percent reservation in poverty eradication and development programs and land distributions
• For effective implementation of the Act, National advisory board (10 PWDs), State advisory board (10 PWDs), District level committees and    Advisory committees for commissioners have been instituted
• Redressal mechanism would consist of chief commissioner and 2 deputy chief commissioners, one of whom should be a PWD at the national level and Commissioner at the state level with an assistant commissioner. Setting up Special court at the district level is also envisaged in the Act
• Any violation of the provisions of the Act, would be subject to two years of imprisonment or fine of 100,000 rupees or both. This includes also humiliation of disabled persons in public and fraud by non-disabled to access their entitlements
• Each state government has to frame the rules for the implementation of the Act in the respective States in the coming months.

AIFO is the abbreviation of “Amici Di Raoul Follereau” or Friends of Raoul Follereau, who died in 1977 aged 74. He was instrumental in making known the conditions of leprosy-affected persons in this world. Inspired by his work, people in Italy came together to support persons affected by leprosy and other marginalized. AIFO’s office at Bologna, Italy, serves as the coordinates more than 50 projects. The organization is recognized as an official collaborating partner of the WHO. It is recognized by the European Union and by the Italian Foreign Ministry for Projects of Development Co-operation.