Government schemes fare poorly

The Unique Disability Identity Card or the Swavalamban card scheme of the Central government aims to create a database of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and was rolled out in Karnataka in April 2019. It was a joint undertaking by the Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens and the Department of Health and Family Welfare.

According to the rules, the entire process is supposed to take no more than 30 days. However, even after five months of the programme launch, several districts have poor rates of processing applications. These include Bagalkot (3%), Kalaburagi (3.8%), Mysuru (3.8%), Kodagu (4.3%).

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According to Dr Rajani, the state nodal officer for the programme, the Central government has allowed for certifying authorities to be present only at the district level, which is slowing down the process. “We want things to be done at the taluk level. We have given the details of medical offices of all 146 taluks to the Central government about three weeks back,” she said.

Dr R Bhanumurthy, the Medical Superintendent at K C General Hospital, in Malleshwaram, Bengaluru, says that accessing the new software poses several challenges.  “Earlier, for filling one certificate, it took five minutes. Now each certificate takes a longer time. Responsibility of uploading the certificate still lies with the hospital. There is a teething problem but in the next two months, things will be rectified,” he said.

When asked about the scheme, V S Basavaraju, the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, expressed hope that things will get better. “Most hospitals are not well-equipped to handle these cases. And this is the first time we have introduced technology. Initial hiccups are there, we are hoping they will come out of it quickly,” he said.

Access to employment 

Government job openings for PwDs are supposed to be notified to a Special Employment Exchange and updated on a website (www.dwdsc.kar.nic.in) but the latest notifications on the website are from March 2018. According to Basavaraju, roughly 4,500 PwDs are provided employment in the private sector through NGOs, with around 600 people in government jobs.

The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms is supposed to maintain data about PwDs employed across all government departments but according to him, the data is not available. A job Mela held in March 2019 in Bengaluru provided employment to 600 people but overall, there is a lack of systemic effort in providing PwDs equal opportunities in employment.

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