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New disability law can be a game changer: Ali

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 Dec 2017 12:00 AM GMT

GUWAHATI, Dec 4: A semir on ‘Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ was organized by the State Social Welfare Department on Monday at the Madhavadeva Intertiol Auditorium, Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra, as a part of the Intertiol Day for Persons with Disabilities, 2017, in collaboration with Shishu Sarothi. The semir 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.

The semir saw participated by over 250 persons with disabilities from various organizations and groups like Pratibandhi Suraksha Sangtha, Pur Sansthapan Sanstha, Bikalanga Unyan Parishad, All Assam Blind Students’ Union, besides representations of civil society, NGOs and vocatiol rehabilitation centre. Students with disabilities from Government BDS Deaf & Dumb School were also present on the occasion.

Mr. Arman Ali, Executive Director, Shishu Sarothi in his welcome address asked persons with disabilities to not always be on the receiving end as beneficiaries but to take on a leadership role vis-a-vis the new disability law, which can be a game changer, if implemented effectively.

The keynote address was delivered by SS Meekshi Sundaram, Director, Social Welfare. He drew attention on geriatric disabilities which are on the rise and need to be addressed. Alok Saharia, Secretary, SE Alam, Joint Director, Bibhash Modi, Additiol Director, PR Gharphalia, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities were also present in the semir.

Officials of the Social Welfare Department shared that this semir is the initial step to start regular discourse on disability laws and rights and create awareness amongst various categories of stakeholders as mandated by the new law. The department has plans to organize semirs on relevant disability concepts and issues on a quarterly basis. It was also stressed that Social Welfare is merely the nodal agency for disability and that all issues of persons with disabilities cannot be looked after by the department. All relevant departments, be it education or health, or any other, have to take adequate measures to provide services and facilities to persons with disabilities.

The technical session of the semir covered three broad topics. Besides, sessions on the new law and on ‘Livelihood and Disability’, there were deliberations on the ‘Relevance of Sustaible Development Goals for inclusion of Persons with Disabilities’. This holds special relevance as Government of Assam is perhaps the first government, across the globe to have initiated action plans to realize the SDGs in a time-bound manner. It is extremely crucial to include people with disability in the conceptual stage to ensure that needs of persons with disabilities are well understood and appropriate measures are undertaken to track the progress for people with disability. It was discussed that disability has to be recognized as a cross-cutting issue and all development / welfare schemes should include people with disabilities and report progress achieved for people with disabilities. Without implementation and measurement of the SDGs vis-a-vis disability inclusion - promises will go undelivered, and people with disabilities will continue to be left behind. The concluding interactive session of the semir was moderated by Arman Ali.

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