The differently abled feel handicapped at employment drives

| | posted on:Multiple Disability

Job fests for the differently abled are all the rage amongst corporations out to act on their corporate social responsibility mandates. Few applicants benefit from these drives, and many others find themselves short sold. Jobs offered to them at these events that are commensurate with their educational qualifications.

For some of those who are differently abled, there have been a few unique job hunting opportunities recently. Instead of the job aspirants having to go from pillar to post in search of jobs, several companies are now coming together looking to hire differently abled employees. But, are these job fests all that they are cracked up to be?

The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) organised it’s first ‘Job Fest for the Differently Abled’ at the Chinamaya Mission, in New Delhi this week. Much like any other fest, there were stalls scattered across the venue, with different company representatives selecting candidates for employment. However, by the end of the day only 12 out of 400 applicants got an offer letter, at this one-day event organised by the PHDCCI. About 62 others were short listed for various companies.

Javid Abidi, a rights’ activist and honorary director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) said, “I do not endorse these events. These are cosmetic measures taken up by the corporate sector as they are under tremendous pressure from activists. These are nothing but stunts.”

A bulk of positions offered at these events, are back-end office jobs and clerical responsibilities, they do not match with the educational qualifications of many applicants. “The government needs to take stricter measure to ensure all kinds of jobs are open to people with disabilities,” said Abidi.

Nilendra Bardiar, 27,
PhD student in Contemporary History, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Nilendra Bardiar

“I’m fed up of sitting at home and writing and researching, I want to get out and interact with people.”

One wouldn’t imagine that a person with such educational qualifications would have much trouble seeking employment. Reality, however, is different. “I have spoken to several prospective employers over the telephone, and every time I told them I can’t walk, they reject me,” he says. Bardiar is keen on working in Public Relations. He approached Exhibition India Group and GRAS Academy with his resume, and was politely told, “thank you, but, we’ll get back to you.”

“Compromise is a part of my life,” says Bardiar. He grew up in the industrial town of Bokharo, and was home schooled till he was 15-years-old because schools refused to admit a wheelchair bound student.. “I joined a Kendriya Vidyalaya close to my house because they had their science labs on the ground floor,” he recalled. Bardiar moved to Delhi to pursue higher education. After completing a Masters degree in Political Science, from University of Delhi, the only jobs he could find were research and content writing jobs that involved him working from home. “I’m fed up of sitting at home and want to get out and interact with people,” he says. However he knows what he never wants to do, “I don’t want to work for BPO’S and KPO’S… I’ve done that, and it’s certainly not for me.”

Nidhi, 23
Final year LLB student, Delhi University.


“They offered me a job of a receptionist; I am not in a hurry to earn money, I will wait.”

At the age of five, Nidhi contracted from polio and today it is difficult for her to move her left leg. However, that has not dampened her confidence. She aspires to become a corporate lawyer. She hoped that private companies at the job fest might offer her a position in the legal department.

As she moved from one stall to another she realised that only middle level jobs were on the table. She politely refused receptionist and telesales’ positions that were offered. “They offered me a job of a receptionist; I am not in a hurry to earn money, I will wait,” she said. Nidhi’s friends who are pursuing M Phils and PhDs were offered job that will fetch them Rs 5000 monthly. “They get scholarships of Rs 22,000 monthly. Why will we do a middle level job,” she recalled her first experience in a job-fest. She observed at the fest that the jobs were mainly offered to persons with least disabilities. “This or more before the final result is India; people do not find jobs here. As a person with disability we have to struggle a lot,” she added.

Deepak PS, 24
Masters in English, Loyola College, Chennai

Deepak PS

“I was once told that I am over qualified for the post”

Cricket enthusiast Deepak has only one dream— to be a sport columnist. He holds two post-graduate degrees, an MA in English Literature from Loyola College and a degree from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. He is still searching for his dream job. In 2007, Deepak visited a job fest in MIT (Madras Institute of Technology) along with hundred others candidates. “Only five or six people were selected out of 200 aspirants. Why assemble so many only to disappoint them?” he asked. Frustrated with the ‘gimmicks’ he said, “In these fests the companies will make beautiful speeches, will interview us, and will promise to call back. That never happens.” Even if someone gets a job offer, the pay package often compels them to refuse it. Deepak, who has cerebral palsy, says that companies cannot handle people with severe disabilities. The excuses put forward by the companies vary, “I was once told that I was over-qualified for the post.” He now refuses to attend job fests.

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