Volume 3 Issue 6 - March 15, 2005

Appointments for all three key disability posts put on hold

DNIS News Network - Taking cognisance of the strong protest lodged by the D.R.G., the government is doing a rethink regarding appointments for three key disability posts.

  • Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo to be the next R.C.I. Chairperson
  • Dr. H.C. Goel to be India’s next C.C.P.D.
  • Aloka Guha denied second term; Ministry asked to do a “proper” search and submit fresh names again

Appointments for the three key disability posts – Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disability (C.C.P.D.); Chairperson, National Trust; and Chairperson, Rehabilitation Council of India (R.C.I.) – have been put on hold by the government, taking cognisance of the strong protest lodged by the Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.).

Earlier, the decisions to appoint Manoj Kumar as the C.C.P.D., to reappoint Aloka Guha as the Chairperson of the National Trust for the second time and to appoint Dr. Uma Tuli to the post of Chairperson, R.C.I., had already got clearance from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

When it came to know of these decisions, the D.R.G. wrote a strong letter of protest on 24 February, 2005, to the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (U.P.A.), Sonia Gandhi, and to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. (The full text of the letter is given below for easy reference.)

The D.R.G. further demanded that a disabled person should be made the C.C.P.D. and that a parent should be made the Chairperson of the National Trust.

The Cabinet Committee on Appointments (A.C.C.) decided to intervene positively. Instead of Dr. Uma Tuli, Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (Head of the Advocacy Unit at AADI and himself a disabled person) was picked to be the next Chairperson of R.C.I. Instead of Manoj Kumar, Dr. H.C. Goel (Head of the Rehabilitation Department at Safdarjung Hospital and himself a disabled person) has been chosen as India’s next C.C.P.D. It is indeed heartwarming to note that both the people who were finally selected are themselves persons with disabilities.

As far as the post of Chairperson, National Trust, is concerned, Aloka Guha has been denied a second term. A.C.C. noted that there was no “valid reason” as to why she should be given a second term. The Committee has advised the Ministry of Social Justice to do a “proper search” and to resubmit a list of names. The deadline has been fixed as the end of June.

These A.C.C. decisions have been widely welcomed by the disability sector. It has been nine years since the passage of The Disability Act and only now -- for the first time -- will a disabled person be appointed as India’s C.C.P.D.

We reproduce below the letter sent by the Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) to Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (U.P.A.):

D.R.G./04-5/C 24th February, 2005

Dear [Madam],

This is with reference to the Blue Print for ensuring the rights of disabled citizens in India that we had submitted to you on 25th November, 2004.

You may recall that under ‘Immediate goals’, we had requested for (a) reconstitution of the National Disability Commission; and (b) giving due dignity and necessary powers to the office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (C.C.P.D.).

You may also recall that the Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) has actively and passionately lobbied for a very long time now that India’s C.C.P.D. should be a person with disability. To select a non-disabled professional or even a parent would indirectly mean that there was no one good enough or competent enough amongst India’s 70 million disabled people!

When the U.P.A. government came to power almost about a year ago, the one community which felt the maximum relief and happiness, were the disabled people of India. We had and still have huge expectations from the government in general; and from you and the Prime Minister in particular.

We are therefore feeling totally crushed that decision after decision being taken out of the Social Justice Ministry is going completely against the overall well being and long term interest of India’s disabled citizens.

We have come to know from very authentic sources that a completely nondescript individual from Bihar, a certain Shri Manoj Kumar, has been shortlisted as India’s next C.C.P.D.! Even when the advertisement was given for the said “Post”, we had raised an objection and had submitted a detailed representation to Smt. Meira Kumar. A copy of this representation was sent to you and to Dr. Manmohan Singh. A copy of the same is enclosed for your easy reference.

It is also important for you to know that I, as the Convenor of DRG, have personally met the Hon’ble Social Justice Minister and impressed upon her that the Nation is watching and that she should go out of her way and take such steps which not only inspire confidence, but enthusiasm, amongst the disabled population of India.

Much to our chagrin, all the 3 people shortlisted for the post of C.C.P.D. are non-disabled and with hardly any credibility or reputation whatsoever. We leave it to you to please look into this on your own and to find out the truth from your own sources.

We would also like to lodge our strong protest over the appointment of Dr. Uma Tuli as the next Chairperson of Rehabilitation Council of India (R.C.I.) and over the reappointment of Smt. Aloka Guha as the Chairperson of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.

The disability sector is deeply distressed and we are curious to know from the Ministry of Social Justice as to what is so special about these two ladies to reward them with such high posts for a second time? In every other field & sphere, all the previous appointees of the NDA government have been packed off, except for these two wonderful people, who are well known for the damage that they have caused to India’s disability sector. If Dr. Uma Tuli did well as India’s previous C.C.P.D., then logically, she should be given a second term! And if she didn’t do well, then how come that she is being rewarded with a second plum assignment?!! Smt. Aloka Guha did so badly in her tenure that Parivaar (the umbrella organization of the parent bodies of the concerned disability groups) had to pass a motion of no-confidence against her. And yet she is being given the second term!

It is important for you to know Madam that one of the demands of the disability sector has been that a parent should be appointed as the Chairperson of the National Trust. There are such eminent people in this country as Smt. Sudha Kaul, Smt. Poonam Natarajan, Smt. Mithu Alur and several others who could have been considered for this august office than Smt. Aloka Guha, who is only a professional and one who fakes to be a parent.

Madam, it is crucial for your Government to realize that no matter how much we all talk about the rights of people with disabilities and yes, there is a law too, nothing much will happen unless (a) proper institutions are in place; and (b) the right people are given charge of those institutions. Otherwise, inspite of all our good intentions, nothing will change!

Yours sincerely,

(Javed Abidi)

Smt. Sonia Gandhi
10, Janpath
New Delhi 110 011

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