Volume 3 Issue 15 - August 01, 2005

Disability leadership strongly criticises Draft National Policy

The Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities is not only a diluted version of the existing legislations, but it has also been drafted without consultation with stakeholders. N.C.P.E.D.P. had circulated a questionnaire to prominent activists representing different disabilities and regions, for their views regarding the process, and the draft itself. The following is a cross-section of views.

Responses came from J. L. Kaul, Secretary General, All India Confederation of the Blind; J. P. Gadkari, President, PARIVAAR, Bangalore; D. S. Chauhan, General Secretary, Delhi Association of the Deaf, New Delhi; Poonam Natarajan, Director, Vidya Sagar, Chennai; Subhash Datrange, Rehabilitation Consultant, Association for Blindness and Low Vision, Mumbai; Arun C. Rao, Executive Director, The Deaf Way Foundation, New Delhi; Asha Mehra, Secretary, Swavalamban, New Delhi; Sudha Balachandra, Executive Secretary & Director General, N.A.S.E.O.H., Mumbai, Meera Kagti, Chairperson, Shishu Sarothi, Guwahati; Mridu Goel, Chairperson, Indian Association of the Handicapped, Lucknow; and Sruti Mohapatra, Swabhiman, Bhubaneshwar.

1. Are you aware of the Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (M.S.J.E.)? If yes, how?

J. L. Kaul: Yes. About two years back, R.C.I. Chairperson had forwarded it to me in the capacity of their General Council’s member. (This is an older version of the policy that he is referring to and not the new one that has been posted on the website)

J. P. Gadkari: Yes. From the website of M.S.J.E.

D.S. Chauhan: Yes. An NGO invited me to a meeting on the subject very recently.

Poonam Natarajan: Yes, at a meeting organised by N.C.P.E.D.P. where some people were talking about it.

Subhash Datrange: Yes. I came to know through the professional circle.

Arun C. Rao:Yes. I am really upset at the way it has been handled. Two friends in the sector sent the information to me.

Asha Mehra: No.

Sudha Balachandra: Yes. Through internet.

Meera Kagti:Yes. The draft of the National Policy was circulated briefly during the last National Trust Conference for State Nodal Agency Centres at Delhi in February 2005.

Mridu Goel: No. Only recently the Secretary, Disabled Welfare, Uttar Pradesh told us about it. When I phoned him for some other work he insisted that we send our recommendations.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra:Yes. Got a posting from V.S.O.

2. Was a copy sent to you by the Ministry seeking recommendations? If yes, when?

J. L. Kaul: No.

J. P. Gadkari:No.

D.S. Chauhan:Usually we get some circulars, but this time we were not favoured with a draft copy of the Policy.

Poonam Natarajan: No.

Subhash Datrange:No.

Arun C. Rao:No.

Asha Mehra: No.

Sudha Balachandra: No.

Meera Kagti:No.

Mridu Goel: No.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra: No.

3. Were you part of any consultation/s prior to the drafting of the Policy? If yes, when was it conducted and by whom?

J. L. Kaul: No.

J. P. Gadkari:No.

D.S. Chauhan: No.

Poonam Natarajan: No.

Subhash Datrange:No.

Arun C. Rao: No.

Asha Mehra: No.

Sudha Balachandra: No.

Meera Kagti: A brief discussion was held at the National Trust Conference.

Mridu Goel: No.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra: No.

4. Are you satisfied with the 15-day deadline given by the Ministry to give recommendations?

J. L. Kaul: No.

J. P. Gadkari: No. We have written to the Ministry to give sufficient time (till the end of August 2005) for all concerned to study the document and give their suggestions and comments.

D.S. Chauhan: No. For such an important policy document, widest possible reaction should have been invited and sufficient time given for discussions, evaluation and submitting comments and suggestions.

Poonam Natarajan: No. The draft is very vague and has many problems. We have not been able to send the feedback.

Subhash Datrange: Not at all.

Arun C. Rao: Absolutely not. It is impossible to meet such a deadline effectively.

Asha Mehra: Not at all.

Sudha Balachandra: No. Many even do not know about the formulation of the draft policy.

Meera Kagti: No. We have not had the time to consider the policy in depth.

Mridu Goel: No. It should be one month.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra:No. Not at all. I have strong reservations. The policy has been drafted in a hurry, does not address very basic issues and the language is apologetic.

5. What is the process that you would recommend for drafting such an important policy?

J. L. Kaul:In my view the draft of the policy should be circulated to all major organisations working in the disability sector and comments should be sought from them within a stipulated time.

J. P. Gadkari: It should be widely circulated. It should be thoroughly discussed and there should be wide consultations with all stakeholders before it is finalised.

D.S. Chauhan:Invite public opinion through advertisements in national, regional dailies and selected periodicals. Write directly to all organisations of persons with disabilities, particularly those receiving grants. Solicit comments/suggestions from well-known I.T.Is and few institutes of Management of national/international fame.

Poonam Natarajan:Wider consultation is required and more time given. Each area should be specific. More experience from the field should be gathered.

Subhash Datrange:Wider consultation with all the stakeholders – disabled people, parents, professionals and society at large. The consultation should not be restricted to the four walls of the Government. There should be a national debate.

Arun C. Rao: Following the “nothing about us without us” parameter, the disability sector would need to be contacted at the earliest stages of creating such a draft and a drafting committee set up including ministry officials and professional consultants on disability from the disability sector.

Asha Mehra: Representatives from different disabilities and different States should be consulted.

Sudha Balachandra: Debate and discussion with all the stakeholders is very important before framing a policy at the national level.

Meera Kagti: More detailed discussion, with national/regional level debates and discussions would have been more participatory and more effective.

Mridu Goel: The M.S.J.E. should include disabled people right from the planning stage and should not make such an important policy without consulting those for whom the policy is being made / framed. And more importantly disabled activists or groups such as D.R.G., I.A.H., Parents Associations, N.F.B., etc., should be consulted.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra: Constitution of Drafting Committee which has a strong presence of People with Disabilities in it. A nation-wide discussion on the draft, public debates, and then finalisation of policy, including comments and recommendations pooled.

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