Volume 7 Issue 3 - February 01, 2010
Mukul Wasnik continues to be evasive on new law while the sector’s demand gets stronger
D.N.I.S. News Network, India: A new Minister does not seem to have done any good to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s (M.S.J.E.’s) unenviable reputation of taking closed door, half baked policy decisions. Otherwise, there are no explanations as to why Mukul Wasnik continues to be cagey about the Ministry’s take on the ever growing demand from the Indian disability sector for a new comprehensive law rather than patchwork amendments to the Disability Act of 1995 that the ‘babus’ of M.S.J.E. are so keen on.
The demand for a new law was brought to the Minister’s notice in August by the Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.). In fact, at that time Wasnik seemed open to the idea. And since then, with the passage of time, the demand for a new law is only getting stronger! This was evident at the National Consultation on a new disability legislation organised by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) in October which saw the most renowned and credible leaders of the disability sector, from all over India, get together in New Delhi.
Incidentally, the consultation was also attended by Joint Secretary, M.S.J.E., Dr. Arbind Prasad, at the behest of Mukul Wasnik. At the Consultation, it was decided to take this mandate to the grassroots. Accordingly, four Zonal Consultations are now being organised by N.C.P.E.D.P. in collaboration with its partners. Of these, the North Zone Consultation is over and the consensus there too was in favour of a new law.
Recently, Parivaar, the parents’ body for intellectual disabilities passed a resolution endorsing the demand. The Deafway Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf are also supporting the same. Even blogs, Twitter and the cyberspace is now agog with the demand for a new, comprehensive disability law.
However, what is surprising is that the Ministry has been consistently evasive on this issue. Recently, at the 10th Editors’ Conference on Social Sector Issues on January 18, Wasnik again stated that the Ministry is working on the amendments. The amendments (revised, latest version) however have not yet been made public. What is there on the Ministry’s website is the old version from September 2009.
N.C.P.E.D.P. wrote to Wasnik on January 8 urging him to clear his position on the issue – whether he is still open to the possibility of a new law, as he promised D.R.G. in August 2009, or has he made up his mind to go ahead with patchwork amendments. A reply is still awaited!
Recently, the Central Executive Committee met on January 27, after a gap of a year and a half (incidentally, this Committee is supposed to meet every quarter!) to discuss the amendments. The reason given by Secretary, M.S.J.E. for “rushing” them was that the government has to show some progress on the implementation of U.N.C.R.P.D. in the status report due later this year!!
If the nodal ministry for disability issues works on such motivations, then the future of 70 million disabled people is beyond worry – it is doomed!!! When asked for a reaction, D.R.G. Convenor, Javed Abidi said, “It seems that the disability sector is being pushed into an unnecessary confrontation, yet again. However, we are in no rush. We are watching the situation very closely.”
“As you are aware, we just had our North Zone Consultation. The next one, in the East Zone, is due in Guwahati on February 20. I am quite confident that by then, the picture would be more clear. We will mould our strategy accordingly,” he added.
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