The differently abled are not subjects of charity and patronage but holders of rights and those rights demanded by them should be given to them. Tamil Nadu has pioneered many social movements and hope it comes up with something similar in the case of the differently abled, according to Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member, Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Delivering the inaugural address at the first state-level conference of Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers here on Sunday, she said that understanding the language and definition of disability is important, and we become disabled for a variety of reasons, a poor man is disabled because the rich rule and the policies favour the rich, women are disabled in a patriarchal society where they are treated as second class citizens, a Dalit is disabled because he lives in a caste-based society where upper castes consider him as inferior.
It is because of the social structures they are disabled. Similarly it becomes important to understand that the person suffers from impairment but it is the society which makes him disabled, look at the case of polio affected persons, they do not have access to public spaces as they are not disabled friendly. Our struggle is to fight against the structures of the society and also its socio-economic stranglehold, she said.
Ms. Karat stated that “We have to understand the direction of the neo-liberal economic policies of the government and how does it impact the disabled, and the main issue is that the Government now believes that their role has to be lessened and the market should direct the economy and this is a dangerous trend.”
In the disability sector, this has got reflected in two ways, instead of government taking responsibility they have handed over the responsibility to non-governmental organisations without giving them adequate infrastructure and finance. Huge cuts in resources and money for the disabled sector for e.g. during the last budget only Rs.427 crore was allotted and similarly National Institute for Finance of Handicapped has given loans to just 7,000 members during the last year and the maximum amount given to an individual was Rs.50,000, there has been no progress on self-employment schemes for the differently abled, she said.
NGOs and various organisations are working for the physically disabled, visually impaired, hearing impaired, mentally disabled and different organisation but what happens is that one group of the impaired is unable to understand the disability problems of others.
A national platform provides us a chance for a broader platform to put pressure on the government with regard to the policies framed by them, so it is essential to move one step forward and raise a voice for all the sections of the differently abled.
On October 1, 2007, Government of India, ratified the United Nations Convention of Rights of Disabled Persons, we demand that all the Indian laws on disability should be in tune with the UN Convention, which provides a number of rights for them. All sections of the disabled in rural and urban and who need help should be included in the Below Poverty Line. R. Annadurai, MLA, Madurai South, H. Ramakrishnan, former director, News Unit of Doordarshan Kendra, Chennai, S. Namburaj, State Coordinator, TARATDAC, also spoke at the conference.