Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nursery Admission Norms: Centre to Clarify on Disability Quota

Nursery  Norms: Centre to Clarify on Disability Quota

The high court on Tuesday asked the Centre to clarify if Delhi's schools still have the discretion to provide admissions in nursery classes to disabled kids, despite the lieutenant governor's guidelines clubbing them with children of economically weaker groups (EWS).

A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and R V Easwar gave a day's time to the Centre to explain after the latter told the court it is up to the Delhi government to make guidelines for providing any benefit to disabled kids since the city government has enough "elbow room" despite the LG's order.

But HC was not satisfied and questioned the Centre's stand saying "no elbow room is visible" under the guidelines or the Persons with Disabilities Act. It added that if no proper guidelines are framed for providing relief to disabled students, the "discretionary approach" of schools will get an "escape route".

"If you (Centre and Delhi governments) don't come out with guidelines, it could lead to an escape route to the discretionary approach of schools," the bench said and kept the matter for Wednesday after the counsel, appearing for the Centre, said its officials would be present in the court to explain the government's stand.

The bench was hearing a PIL, by Pramod Arora, father of a child with special needs, challenging the LG's nursery admission guidelines to the extent it clubs disabled children with kids from EWS group. His petition also seeks 3% reservation for disabled kids in the nursery class.

During the day's proceedings, the Centre said it is for Delhi government to evolve guidelines on the issue but the court pointed out only when the Centre asks the state government to do so will it acts.

It also asked the Centre to "see what is possible under the Act", whether 3% reservation is possible and if yes, how to implement the same.

Meanwhile a group of parents on Tuesday also challenged the points for interstate transfer in the new nursery admission guidelines. A bench of acting Chief Justice and Justice Siddharth Mridul sought a reply from the state government and posted the case for Thursday.


Monday, 24 February 2014

Visually-Challenged Candidates Put in Extra Effort for BSE Exams

Visually-Challenged Candidates Put in Extra Effort for BSE Exams

‘Train them with regard to use of writers in examination hall’

Thirteen visually impaired class X students and their teachers at Red Cross School for the Blind at Ambapua area of the city are now putting in extra hard work for the preparations for the board examination conducted by Board of Secondary Education (BSE), Odisha.

This year the BSE has changed the question pattern. So, these visually impaired students have to put in extra effort, said their teachers. These students and teachers are also trying hard to keep up the past glory of this institution. Since 1983, when first batch of this school had appeared the tenth board examination, the students of the school have shown hundred per cent pass results. And most of them have passed in first division. This school was inaugurated in 1974 by former president V.V.Giri. It had started with just four students but now has around 150 students.

The students of this residential school, who would appear for the secondary school board examination this year, include six girls and seven boys.

Usually other schools have their classes suspended for class X students one or two months before examinations to provide time for study to the students. But the students of this school for visually impaired remain in school to toil more as they need more time and help for exam preparations, said mathematics and science teacher M. Dandapani Rao.

According to Mr Rao, all teachers are now putting in extra time to coach the students even after the school hours. Special classes are being held to train the visually impaired students regarding use of writer to appear in the examination. It may be noted that the examination centre superintendents arrange writers from lower class for these special students. ‘We are training them how to check whether the writer is writing what is being dictated or not,” said Mr Rao.

According to students of class X like Debasish Sahu and Manisha Baithal, at present they are trying to spend as much time for their studies. They get up in their hostel rooms at 4.30 am and sit for studies from 5 am. They attend classes in school from 10 am to 4 pm. After that teachers hold special classes for doubt clearance. In the evening we they for studies 6.30 pm and continue to study till 11 pm with breaks for dinner and entertainment, Mr. Rao said.

The school authorities would also contact the centre superintendent so that proper students are chosen to become writers for the visually impaired students.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Apathy! British Airways Dismantles Mumbai Author's Wheelchair

Apathy! British Airways Dismantles Mumbai Author's Wheelchair

Malini Chib, noted author and activist who has cerebral palsy, was stranded at London’s Heathrow airport for over two hours as airport staff struggled to put her personal wheelchair back together. Her parents have now demanded an explanation from the airline authorities. Chib was on a British Airways flight from Mumbai en route to Canada to deliver a lecture.

She was travelling to Canada to deliver the keynote address at an international conference on ‘Leadership in the face of adversity’.

But even before she could reach her destination, author and activist Malini Chib faced a bigger hurdle, when British Airways, the airlines she was traveling in, dismantled and took apart her wheel chair before loading the chair in the plane’s cargo.

As a result, when she arrived in London, her first stopover en route to Canada, Chib found herself stranded for over two hours as airline staff at Heathrow frantically tried to put the machine together again. Chib, who has Cerebal Palsy, is also the secretary of Able Disable All People Together (ADAPT earlier known as the Spastics Society of India.

Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY from London, Chib confirmed she was stranded at Heathrow after her personal wheelchair was tampered with. Chib is now in London, where she has an alternate residency. She will head the conference, organised by the University of Virginia at Canada, soon.

According to her mother Dr Mithu Alur, managing trustee of ADAPT, Chib and her father Sathi Alur boarded the British Airways flight from Mumbai to London on Thursday, February 20. “They had business class tickets and the aircraft took off in the afternoon,” she said.

According to Alur, her daughter had checked-in her wheelchair, which had a dry battery. This is not a harmful battery and poses no danger, but since the airlines insisted, it was checked-in and loaded as part of cargo.

“When she landed in London however, and the baggage was unloaded, it was found that someone had completely dismantled the wheelchair before loading it,” Alur said.

Speaking to SMD, Dr Alur said, “As a mother, I am deeply hurt at what has happened. My husband has emailed a letter to the British Airways demanding an explanation and asking what corrective measures they would take to avoid such incidents in future.

The wheel chair had a dry battery cell and there was no need to dismantle it in the first place. I will also write to the Director General of Civil Aviation here,” she added. According to her, Chib could finally leave the airport after two hours, once the airport staff at Heathrow managed to put the chair back together.

First time this has happened

A frequent traveller to various international conferences and events, Chib says she has always travelled with her special electrical wheelchair. This is the first time such an incident has occurred.

Her father Sathi Alur, who was with her, confirmed the incident and said, “I would want to know where the problem was, while loading or while unloading. That would tell us whether someone messed up in Mumbai or in London. Only then would we want to issue a more detailed statement on the issue.”

Chib also said she would reserve her comment till she received a reply from the British Airways. In an email reply to this correspondent, she wrote: “We have written to the British Airways about the incident and once we have had a reply from them we will comment further on this.”

When SMD contacted the British Airways on this issue, an official British Airways spokesperson, said, “We have received a complaint and are investigating the matter. We will get back to you at the earliest.”


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Time To Enable The Disabled

Time To Enable The Disabled

A Bill as politically non-contentious as the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, on which the aspirations of millions of people with disabilities are riding, is, shocking though this may sound, stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, it was recently introduced in the Rajya Sabha but disruptions over political issues like Telangana have ensured that the Bill, which seeks to increase the reservation quota for the disabled in public sector jobs and seats in higher educational institutions, was not taken up for discussion.

On the other hand, the disability rights activists seem to be divided over the proposed amendments as it is alleged that their recommendations have been ignored and it is a watered down version of their earlier demands. Moreover, it was a leaked copy of the Bill that made activists realise that the Bill to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha was not the same as the one available on the website of the ministry of social justice and empowerment, leading to protest rallies in Delhi. While the Bill, rightly, seeks to raise the number of disabilities from seven to 19, it includes only those who suffer not less than 40% of the relevant disability — this many activists feel is quite ambiguous especially in cases of intellectual disabilities and it does not ensure full legal capacity to people with disabilities.

In a country where of 70 million people with disabilities, only about 100,000 have succeeded in obtaining employment in industry, and inaccessible public infrastructure is a cause of their daily travails, this was a controversy the government could have done without had the authorities concerned kept all the stakeholders in the loop. However, practicality suggests that parliamentarians, cutting across the party lines, must now rise above politics and ensure that the Bill sees the light of day.

The Bill may be far from being perfect but given the fact that the ongoing Parliament session is the last one before the general elections, there’s no time to lose. There are several social and infrastructural barriers that need to be crossed to make the Bill effective on the ground. Instead of taking a one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back approach, the government must show urgency to build on what already exists.