Shreshttam to promote talents of differently abled

A man walks past a wall graffiti, painted as Tokyo 2020 Paralympics medal winners athletes in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Manvender Vashist

When India put up one of its finest performances in the Paralympics held in Tokyo earlier this year, there was not a single person from Kerala among its contingent of 54 athletes.

Whether that led to an introspection or not, the Social Justice Department is all set to roll out Shreshttam, a project to promote the artistic and sporting talents of the differently abled. Though their promotion by recognised institutions had found mention in the policy address of the State Government for 2019-20, it did not take off.

The project, for which ₹14 lakh has been sanctioned for the current fiscal, resonates with Section 16 (1) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which calls for ensuring equal opportunities for the differently abled in arts and sports.

“To begin with 10 persons, five each from arts and sports fields, already undergoing training on their own will be given a financial assistance of ₹10,000 each. Later on, the project envisages identifying talents at a young age and grooming them in association with reputed institutions. The idea is to encourage the talents of the differently abled and bring them into the mainstream of society,” said K.K. Subair, Social Justice Officer, Ernakulam.

The assistance will be released on December 3 coinciding with World Disability Day.

There were not many programmes to encourage the artistic and sporting abilities of the differently abled in the State except for Empower, a project run by magician Gopinath Muthukad’s Magic Academy in association with the Social Justice Department four years ago.

Six of the 23 participants chosen under the programme were absorbed by the Academy, and they have since then staged over 3,000 magic shows across the country and aboard. “Their intelligence and emotional quotients were found to have improved in a study conducted by two government agencies. It highlighted the need for similar projects to flush out the artistic abilities of the differently and intellectually disabled,” said Mr. Muthukad.

He had since then launched Different Art Centre and admitted 100 candidates for the holistic development of their various artistic talents through the use of magic.

The annual family income of the applicants under Shreshttam should not be more than ₹1 lakh. They should be training in recognised institutes and should have put in notable performances at the State or national level. Applications should entail copies of merit certificates, admission documents at training institutes, disability certificates, and medical board certificates.

In the event of more than 10 applicants, priority will be determined based on income and the extent of disability. If eligible candidates are not available in a district, the amount will be transferred to other districts.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 4:51:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/shreshttam-to-promote-talents-of-differently-abled/article37133841.ece

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