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Kerala’s people with dwarfism demand benefits and reservation under Disability Act

D.N.I.S. News Network - Drawing inspiration from the success of their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, people with dwarfism in Kerala have formed an association to demand inclusion in the category of “orthopaedically handicapped” thus allowing them to seek benefits under The Disability Act 1995.

In late August, about 100 people got together to form the Small Men Association to fight against discrimination. Balakrishnan Karassery, Vice President of the Association, told media that: “We would ask the State Government to list dwarf people as orthopaedically handicapped thereby entitling them to reservations in job; free bus rides and other facilities.”

Speaking about discrimination against people with dwarfism, Karassery said: “We are a neglected lot and are discriminated…we are treated like kids everywhere. We are big enough to say what we want. We are going to fight for our rights.”

In Andhra Pradesh, a protracted battle had yielded positive result with the High Court’s intervention and the State Government finally agreeing to the demand by people with dwarfism and notified them in the category of “orthopaedically handicapped”. The victory came after months of drafting letters, memorandums, pitched campaigns and a Public Interest Litigation. The decision is expected to benefit an estimated 50,000 dwarfs allowing them to claim reservations in government jobs, free travel passes in buses and trains and many other such benefits.

The Small Men Association has a similar uphill task ahead of them. However, they have a precedent, to support their case.