Volume 2 Issue 22 - November 15, 2004

Government wants jobs reserved for disabled people in NGOs

DNIS News Network - After pitching in for job quotas in the private sector, the UPA government wants NGOs to reserve jobs for disabled people, schedule castes, schedule tribes, and other backward classes.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued a directive to the 2,500 NGOs it funds. The provision of reservation in government-funded NGOs was made way back in 1974 but no stringent steps were taken for its implementation. Social Justice Minister Meira Kumar has now decided to execute it strictly. "We have reviewed our own schemes and have decided to ensure that all NGOs funded by this Ministry implement the policy of reservations for SCs/STs, OBCs and disabled people while recruiting their staff," Kumar said at the 5th Editors' Conference on social sector issues.

Kumar also said the government would insist that the NGOs follow the reservation policy when the Ministry releases the funds. "The Ministry does not wish to stop any activity or the flow of funds. We would just ensure steps to improvise this position. If all of them observe the reservation policy, they give the message of social harmony and equal participation, thereby helping destroy the myth that capabilities lie only with a few segments of society. They are able to demonstrate that given the opportunity and training all persons are equal in their capabilities and output," Kumar said.

On the issue of education and employment of disabled people, she claimed that 45 per cent of children with disabilities are in regular schools (the results of NCPEDP's Education Audit tell a different story. See news 'Shocking statistics unveiled regarding Education scenario vis--vis disabled people') and about 25 per cent of disabled people are employed. She also added, "We are working with the Department of Education through its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to see that no child is denied the opportunity of getting education up to the age of 14. While the emphasis is on inclusive education to see that disabled children also study in regular schools, this Ministry has been running 399 special schools for them. But, it is my constant endeavour to see that these schools do not end up as parallel schools and fail in preparing disabled children for mainstreaming into regular education. The social integration of all must start as early as possible if we are to bring them at par socially and economically."

Speaking on employment aspect she said, "As regards employment, a new initiative has been taken. The Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, in Mumbai, has developed a website called anyone willing to employ the hearing impaired and those seeking jobs can [access this site]."

In the current fiscal year, Rs 233 crore is allocated for the 2,500 Social Justice Ministry-funded NGOs. As a prerequisite to getting funds, the NGOs promise the Ministry that they will keep aside vacancies for the backward and the disabled. If they fail to comply, the Ministry has the power to stop funds and blacklist the NGO.

In a press release issued by the Press Information Bureau, the Minister also talks about accessibility issues. "We are conscious about distribution of aids and appliances. In October, a national exhibition on aids and appliances and a disability empowerment camp was organised in Patna. We have similarly earmarked the North-Eastern states as another area of special attention... [where] six disability camps have already been held this year. Ten more camps are scheduled.... These camps are not merely distribution camps but they are also used as occasions for assessment as to the need of various aids and appliances, training in their usage, and also raising preventive awareness."

She added: "The Ministry is also taking the initiative of setting up partnerships with foreign countries, such as Tanzania, in the field of manpower development and manufacturing of aid and appliances."

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