“All the 21 Government departments in a district must give priority to their needs”

Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Federation Charitable Trust is conducting a State-wide yatra to create awareness of the rights and opportunities created by the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

On October 1, 2007, India ratified the Convention, which creates a paradigm shift from charity and welfare to rights and empowerment of people with disabilities, and a legislation in this regard is due to be tabled in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.

Addressing a meeting here on Tuesday, the Federation's State president G. Chidambaranathan said that the legislation empowered organisations working among the differently abled as it mandated that their voice be heard by policy makers.

As per State and Central Governments' guidelines, all the 21 Government departments in a district must accord priority to the needs of differently abled persons. However, awareness of these topics was low, especially in rural areas. The yatra, which had covered Chennai, Villupuram and Tiruchi, would now proceed to Virudhunagar and other southern districts and conduct meetings on these issues.

Mr. Chidambaranathan also thanked Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for expediting two of her three campaign promises for the welfare for differently abled persons. Many of her schemes for the poor would also benefit this sector as a majority of the differently abled lived in poverty.

Speaking later, State vice-president T.M.N. Deepak said that the Convention, first mooted by Mexico in the UN General Assembly, was based on a principle of “nothing to us without us,” which meant that no policy for the differently abled should be framed without consulting them.

Tribunals

The legislation being contemplated envisaged the constitution of State and district-level tribunals to hear the grievances of differently abled persons. These tribunals would be staffed by differently abled persons elected by differently abled themselves.

Like the Constitutionally-mandated nomination of Anglo-Indians in State legislatures/Parliament, differently abled persons must also be represented in seats of power to voice their grievances, he added.

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