Pvt sector luke warm to jobs for disabled, says Govt

"We had a lot of expectations (from the scheme) but the response has been dismal," Minister of Social Justice and Welfare Mukul Wasnik said while replying to a Calling Attention on discrimination faced by the disabled.

The Finance Minister had announced in the 2008 budget a scheme under which the employers' contribution for the disabled employees would be borne by the government for three years. "It was expected that a large number of industrial houses will respond....but unfortunately I will have to admit this incentive scheme has not got the type of response, we had expected," Wasnik said adding that the government is now attending to it.

He said government was trying to find out why there was lukewarm response. As per the 2001 census, there are 2.19 crore with disabilities in the country, which include visual, hearing, speech and mental disabilities and they constitute 2.13 per cent of the total population.

However, members from different parties said the number was "grossly underestimated". Wasnik said the issue of counting has been taken up with the Registrar General of India and hoped correct figures would emerge after 2011 census.

He said that the government proposed to bring a new "holistic and forward looking" legislation for persons with the disabilities. A committee, consisting of experts and representatives from various stakeholders has been set up to draft a new legislation, which would be in tune with the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Wasnik said the entry of disabled people in civil service has been improved as evident by the selection of ten people in the coveted IAS between 2006 and 2008, while the intake in other civil services has risen to 45. Members cutting across party lines expressed concern over discrimination being meted out to the disabled, a concern which the minister also shared.

They said the disabled people are denied access to public transport, hospitals, schools and other establishments. They are seen as objects of sympathy, whereas the basic facilities are the matter of their rights, they said.  Wasnik said the expert committee report, which will form the basis for the new legislation was expected in December.
He said 796 of the 6074 backlog vacancies under the disabled category have been filled up in the last six months but admitted "there is still a long way to go".

Agreeing with members that getting certificates of disability was a tough task, he said only 35 per cent of the disabled have been certified so far.The minister said the government has simplified the procedure for giving disability certificates by doing away with the necessity of going to a medical board.

Brinda Karat (CPI-M) said despite the good intentions of the minister, the disabled today suffer from multiple areas of discrimination. She said if the correct figures of disabled persons are taken, their number could go up to 7-8 crore. She demanded Below Poverty Line cards, under which ration at subsidised rates is given, for all disabled people.

Piyush Goyal (BJP) said the criteria for categorisation of disabled should be relaxed. R C Singh (CPI), Ram Kripal Yadav (RJD), Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena), Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP), Shyam Benegal (Nominated) and P Rajeeve (CPI-M) also spoke on the issue. Earlier, during the Question Hour, Wasnik said the Centre does not open drug de-addiction centres, but gives financial aid to organisations wanting to run them.

The minister said it collaborates with Health and Youth Affairs ministries for spreading awareness about drug abuse, and it is making efforts to open such centres in jails also.

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