The new year started with bright lights and firm demands. Disabled persons and disability activists turned out in huge numbers for a candle-light vigil on December 31, 2013. They demanded that the long overdue Rights of Persons with Disability Bill be passed by the Parliament and implemented in 2014. The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Draft Bill on December 12, but it was not tabled in the winter session which ended on December 18.
A lot of things which were not covered in the 1995 Act, have been included in this Bill like autism, thalassaemia, dyslexia, multiple sclerosis and haemophilia. Sign language, the need for sign language interpreters and a penalty for the violation of the rights of the disabled are also a part of the Bill.
Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People in India, and the founder of the Disabled Rights Group, shares his thoughts on the disability rights Bill with us here.
"We have worked on this Bill for four-and-a-half years so that people with disabilities get the rights that they deserve. The delay in introducing this legislation has been inexplicable.
For 48 years after independence, until 1995, there was no law to secure the rights of people with disabilities. For 54 years after independence, until 2001, they were not even counted in the Census and hence, the nation had no data on disability.
Even though efforts have been made to correct these lapses, the damage done was so great that generations of persons with disabilities have paid the price. From attaining education to securing a job to being able to just move around the city and have a regular life these are all huge challenges for an average disabled Indian.
Let us hope that the rights-based Bill gets passed soon and ushers in a new beginning for the disabled."