December 16, 2016
Saugata Roy speaks on The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 | FULL TRANSCRIPT
Madam, I rise to speak on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, I am so happy to see the condition of the house today. If only the ruling party had this intention in mind, then the debate on demonetisation could have been held. I am so happy at this situation, Madam, you sitting quietly without getting excited and the Ministers all sitting in their seats; this is an ideal situation, why we could not do it, I lament.
The session is a washout in any case, but, I rise to speak on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014
First thing I want to mention is that this Bill was brought to Rajya Sabha in 2014. At that time Mr. Arun Jaitley was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha; he said that this Bill should not be passed urgently; we should send it to the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee submitted its report in 2015 and now the Bill has come in 2016. Of course, it is better late than never; it took more than two years in actually passing of the Bill.
There is no doubt that Bill has very many improved features for which we must commend The Government. For the first time a comprehensive legislation has been brought forward for the aid of those who are disadvantaged – some from birth, some through accidents or, diseases acquired later. They are the really the most unfortunate condemned people in our society.
It is good that the Parliament is one in passing this Bill. Whatever our political differences, we are with the very disadvantaged people. They have shown that much of humanity and compassion which is a good thing in itself.
Now there are certain – Mr. Venugopal has spoken at length – good features in the Bill, which the Minister has also mentioned. The main thing is that they have included 21 categories as part of disabilities. For instance, for the first time autism, an intellectual problem for learning disorders, has been included. For the first time learning disorders like dyslexia has been included. I did not know for a long time that there was a disease such as dyslexia. Only after seeing Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par, I came to know that there is such a learning disorder. So now that has also been included. And for the first time acid attack victims have been, included.
Madam, the other day during the release of B Mahtab’s book, we were talking of the problems of the old people, senior citizens, the elderly who were hit by geriatric diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease. Now Parkinson’s Disease has also been included as a disability which I strongly commend. Also for the first time, blood disorders – like, thalassemia, haemophilia – have been included, they were not there earlier, we know what problems people with thalassemia and haemophilia havee faced.
Now, I support Mr Venugopal, when he said that reservation should be increased to five per cent instead of four per cent as promised in the Bill. I hope that in this atmosphere of cordiality the Minister will accede to our request. There is no loss of prestige if you accept the Opposition’s recommendation in this very important matter of reservation for the persons with disabilities. Also there is five per cent reservation in land allotments by the Government. So, if there is five per cent reservation there, there should be five per cent reservation in employment.
Now, the Central and State Advisory Boards are being formed and our Parliament will elect members to the Central Board, MLAs will also elect members to the State Advisory Boards. As Mr Venugopal has suggested, I again support him that the District Advisory Boards should also have representatives of the people. If you don’t want MLAs and MPs, at least district ZIlla Parishad members, some people’s representatives should be kept in the District Advisory Boards.
Now, for the first time a national fund for the persons with disabilities is being created and it will mainly depend on Central allotments. I do hope finance ministers in future will allot sufficient fund for the help of the persons with disabilities.
There is also a committee on research on disabilities, which is very good because a lot of these disabilities could be cured if there is proper training.
Now, there are two points in I would like to mention in brief. Our country is not friendly to the specially-abled people. Madam, you travel to the West very often. Every building there has a ramp. Every medium of transport has a ramp for people with orthopaedic problems. We have not been able to introduce that in our trains, in our buses, and even in some of our Government buildings, these ramps have not been put for specially-abled people. This should be strictly implemented.
Madam, I have been working with the specially-abled people for many years. The National Institute of Orthopedically Handicapped is in my constituency, in Bonhooghly. Also, branches of the National Institute of Visually Handicapped and Hearing Impaired are also in the same campus. But, I find that NIOH is very badly maintained and managed. There is a big rush of patients there but not sufficient doctors, particularly doctors who can perform surgery on the orthopedically disabled. I want the Minister to give personal attention.
Madam, many people do not know that the Central Government has a scheme to give free appliances to the handicapped – wheel chairs, tricycles, blind sticks, hearing aids etc. All this is distributed freely. But, we have to organise camps. Now to organise a camps for thousand or two thousand people, it takes a lot of money, there is no help from the Government.
And then again in camps, there is a problem that unless they have the Disability Certificate, they will not get this aid from the Government of India. So, I would request the Minister, to make this provision of having certificate, not compulsory, not mandatory, but optional. Rules for camps need to be made simple.
Madam, we support this Bill wholeheartedly with the 59 amendments. Now there is not much left to amending the Bill accept the reservation. In this context, I would quote from Tagore:
হে মোর দুর্ভাগা দেশ, যাদের করেছো অপমান
অপমানে হতে হবে তাহাদের সবার সমান |
বঞ্চিত করেছ যারে,
সম্মুখে দাঁড়ায়ে রেখে তবু কোলে দাও নাই স্থান,
অপমানে হতে হবে তাহাদের সবার সমান
[O my unfortunate country, those who have been insulted by you, ultimately the country will be insulted by them. So unless we can do proper justice to the disabled, we shall not be fulfilling our duties as citizens of the country.]
Lastly, the Minister promised that he would bring a Bill on Transgenders (already there is a Private Members’ Bill on the subject). I would request him to also expedite the Bill so that can pass it unanimously again just as we are passing this Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 in a Parliament session raked by controversies and disturbed by commotion.