Friday, February 5, 2010

Our moment of reckoning

I write this with a feeling of excitement and nervousness, and at the same time with a firm resolve and faith in the movement of 70 million disabled people of the nation.

Yet again, the disability movement in India is bracing itself to face its moment of reckoning. We are faced with not one but multiple challenges.

It has been 14 years since the Disability Act of 1995 was enacted. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) stubbornly continues to harp on ‘amendments’. The sector’s demand for a new law, truly reflecting the letter and spirit of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), is getting stronger with each passing day.

National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and Disabled Rights Group (DRG) have been gradually broadbasing this discussion through National and Zonal level consultations.

The movement has picked up. MSJE can no longer be indifferent to our voice and more importantly, our sentiments.

Another issue that is staring at our face is the upcoming Union Budget. We have to ensure that our concerns are not once again relegated to the backburner like the last year.

The third issue that needs our immediate attention is Census 2011. In exactly a year from now, the process of enumeration will start. We all remember that it was after a prolonged struggle that a question on disability was included in Census 2001 at the last moment and with dismal results.

The work that lies ahead of us is to ensure that the disabled population is properly reflected in the Census results this time.

Information is power. It can lead to self-advocacy and empowerment. We, at NCPEDP, have always believed in sharing information to mobilize opinion of the sector on issues that concern all of us.

However, as much as we would want to reach each and every disabled person and all others who care, our reach and resources are limited.

Cyberspace has now given us a powerful medium to take our voices to a much greater audience and in no time at all. I have recently started using 3 pretty interesting media: Twitter (@javed_abidi), blog ( and Facebook! My endeavour is and will be to give regular updates on issues concerning people with disabilities. If need be, and as much as humanly possible, on a daily basis.

I urge all stakeholders of the Indian disability movement to make an effort to give these accounts a look and follow them as frequently as possible.

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