Lok Sabha Election

‘Assurances made in manifestos on disability rights a welcome step’

A regional party has totally ignored them, while the manifesto of a national party has reflected one of their long-pending demands. For disability rights groups, election manifestos are among the tools to assess how clearly their voices have been heard and to what extent their emphasis on rights and equal opportunities has translated into political assurances.

This election, the Congress’ assurance to amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, the DMK’s promise on providing electronic assistive devices or those driven by artificial intelligence to people with greater support needs and the VCK’s emphasis on political participation of persons with disabilities are some of the highlights, disability activists said. The CPI(M) manifesto, which was released in audio format and sign language, was a welcome step towards accessibility, they added.

T.M.N. Deepak, State president of the December 3 Movement, said the manifestos of the Congress, the DMK, the VCK and the Left parties focused on “inclusive politics”. The Congress’ assurance to amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the ground of disability or impairment was a ‘bonanza’ for persons with disabilities, he said. “The manifestos of this group [of parties] are rights-based and very inclusive. The VCK has underscored the need for political participation of persons with disabilities. We also welcome the DMK’s assurance that the CSR funds of companies would be used to strengthen the national fund created under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act,” he said.

Pointing out that the AIADMK’s manifesto had no word on the welfare of the disabled, he said the BJP had never consulted with persons with disabilities, and its assurances were cursory in nature.

S. Namburajan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers, said the BJP, in its 2014 manifesto, promised to create a database, provide universal identity cards and web-based education to the differently-abled, but implemented nothing. “Its pet project Sugamya Bharat (Accessible India) is a failure. Discrimination is a huge obstacle for persons with disabilities and this needs to be done away with,” he said.

Meenakshi Balasubramanian of the Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice called the BJP’s manifesto a disappointment. “I think the BJP has failed by not making any commitments, both financial and developmental,” she said.

On the BJP offering higher interest rates on fixed deposits made by persons with disabilities, she said earning was a problem for many, and promising high interest rates on investments will benefit only a small group.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 10:30:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/assurances-made-in-manifestos-on-disability-rights-a-welcome-step/article26775071.ece

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