Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, said here on Saturday that Left Party MPs will unanimously demand for the immediate issuance of Antyodaya ration cards for the differently-abled citizens in India in the coming session of the Parliament as a step towards establishing food security.
Addressing the inaugural function of the National Convention of Platform for Rights of Disabled, organised by the Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammilani (a State-backed organisation that works for the disabled), Ms. Karat expressed concern over the spiralling rise of foodgrain prices and its direct impact on the nutritional requirements of the poor among the differently-abled.
“…the sector of disability is a sector of neglect and the poor amongst them are highly affected when price of every single commodity is increasing regularly due to the Centre’s policies. The disabled people have a right to food security and right against malnutrition,” she said.
Describing as an underestimation, the figure of total number of disabled persons in India, Ms. Karat said that it was “ironical” that the Centre still did not have a sound system to identify the differently-abled persons and issue them identity cards that acknowledges their disability and enable them to avail certain privileges.
“No country which claims to be democratic can have such undemocratic approach towards such a large section of the population. A disabled person is kicked around like a football from one office to another and are harassed by corrupt officials before he is issued these cards which are on lines similar to the issuing of Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards,” she asserted.
Criticising the Centre’s claims on ‘inclusive education’ and ‘right to education,’ Ms. Karat said: “We regret to say that the Centre’s policies are totally insensitive to the demands of a disabled child. It is a shame that the Centre is cutting funds for special schools in the name of inclusive education at a time when it is giving tax concessions to the tune of Rs.4 lakh crore to corporate giants.”
She said that 142 special schools in West Bengal were about to close down due to non-availability of Central funds, while in Karnataka, teachers qualified in special teaching methods were unemployed.
On the challenges faced by women with disabilities in regular life, Ms. Karat said that vulnerability in such cases was severe and cases of sexual harassment topped the list of problems faced.
Focussing on the “infirm framework” of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, she said that rather than bringing about amendments to the Act, it was wiser to frame another inclusive law.
A draft approach paper placed during the convention demanded that a comprehensive and universally valid identity card should be issued to the differently-abled persons for greater convenience.