GUWAHATI: A seminar on ‘Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ was organized by the Social Welfare Department, Government of Assam on Tuesday at Shilpgram, Panjabari, Guwahati, as a part of celebrations of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, 2018, in collaboration with Shishu Sarothi. The Seminar provided a platform for discussions and dialogue on ongoing disability issues as well as the new disability law, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
A press release stated that the Seminar was participated by around 250 stakeholders, including people with disabilities, teachers, Social Welfare officials, NGO and civil society representatives, parents of persons with disabilities, amongst others. Students with disabilities from Govt. BDS Deaf & Dumb School and Guwahati Blind High School and representatives from Hemophilia Society, Bikalanga Unnayan Parishad, All Assam Disabled Person's Association, Assam Association of Deaf, All Assam Pratibandhi Punarsangsthapan Association, All Assam Blind Youth Development Council, NE Disabled Development Society were also present on the occasion.
Ketaki Bardalai, Executive Director, Shishu Sarothi in her welcome address talked about the importance of awareness creation and how the present Seminar was just a stepping stone to so much more that needs to be done for awareness amonsgt various stakeholders for effective implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. As disability is a cross-cutting issue, she specifically called upon the Social Welfare department as the nodal body on disability in the state to work towards meaningful convergence between key departments of the state, including health and education, so that people with disabilities are not left behind.
Debeswar Malakar, Director, Social Welfare in his address stressed upon the need for government functionaries to be versed with the rights of people with disabilities, so that they can be aware of their roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis ensuring access to rights.
Jishnu Baruah, Addl. Chief Secretary to the Govt. of Assam, Social Welfare said that the government has to be mindful of the issues and obligations as duty bearers. He spoke of the recent initiatives taken up by the department for creation of barrier-free access, pension scheme and Project Reach Out and Respond. Admitting that a lot needs to be done in the sector, he also shared that the department is working on coming up with a Skill Development Training Centre for people with disabilities and a Central University on Disability in the state.
The Keynote Address delivered by Pramila Rani Brahma, Minister, Social Welfare, highlighted on the need for the government to focus on implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. She emphasized on the importance of higher education as key to empowerment of people with disabilities. Laying stress on awareness creation and the importance of publicity, she expressed the need for dedicated budget allocation for the same.
The Technical Session of the Seminar conducted by the Disability Law Unit, Shishu Sarothi, gave an overview of the concept of disability from the rights based approach and the importance of inclusion and also went on to discuss the rights framework and roles and responsibilities of the state as envisaged in the RPD Act, 2016.