People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXV

No. 38

September 18, 2011

  

TAMILNADU

 

Disabled People Hold State Conference

 

D Lakshmanan

 

THE Tamilnadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) held its first state conference for two days, on August 27 and 28, 2011, in Madurai city.

 

IMPRESSIVE

PROCESSION

A huge procession, taken out on August 27 evening, marked the opening of the conference. It started from the Netaji Statue near Jhansi Rani Park and ended at the junction of West and North Masi Street.

 

Dr Maru Rohini Sridhar, director of Apollo Speciality Hospital and Executive Officer, flagged off the procession to the accompaniment of drums and orchestra.

 

The procession was headed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, one of the distinguished leaders of the National Platform for the Rights of Disabled (NPRD). Her participation added immense value to the procession and rally and incited ecstasy among the participants, especially among the disabled.

 

Besides, Tamilnadu AIDWA leaders U Vasuki and B Jhansi Rani, Era Annadurai (MLA, Madurai West constituency), CITU leaders R Jothiram and B Vikraman, the organisationís state convenor D Lakshmanan and its secretary S Namburajan, Kalaimamani H Ramakrishnan and V Swamination (leaders of an association of the hearing impaired), K Veerappan (leader of an association of the visually impaired), A Prakasam of leprosy cured peopleís association, and Karur Selvaraj, secretary of the DMDK disabled association, participated in the procession.

 

Nearly 5,000 persons with various types of disabilities and their parents took part in the procession. This was a different experience for the general public who watched the procession with curiosity all along the road on both sides.

 

At one point of the procession, the people were flabbergasted to see a disabled person crawling fast and majestically.

 

At another point of procession, a disabled person moved on the road on his buttocks owing to loss of limbs --- as fast as he could along with others in the procession. The general public saw no dispirit, disgust or disgruntle on the face of any of the disabled. Only vigour and virulence were writ large on their faces, telling that they are inferior to nobody, though they face a challenge at every step, to every movement of theirs in their day to day life.

 

Loss of sight, loss of limbs, impaired speech, deadened hearing, a retarded mind --- these are their impediments. But they are not deterred. Their only demand is that they should be treated at par with others as they too are human beings.

 

Out of their own experience, many of the disabled have come to understand that the government is not going to do anything for them unless they unite and raise their voice. There do exist a number of acts and government orders but they wonít work unless induction is applied.

 

The slogans they raised in the procession blared their bitterness over the lethargic attitude of the union and state governments.

 

It is no exaggeration to say that Madurai city had not seen such a procession earlier --- with the slogans raised by the disabled of various types reverberating in the atmosphere.

 

Through their slogans, they demanded an enhancement of maintenance allowance from Rs 1,000 to 3,000; strict implementation of 3 per cent reservation in government jobs;   fixation of 40 per cent disability as the limit for grant in all welfare schemes; distribution of disability certificates to all the disabled, at their doorsteps.

 

STUNNING

SPECTACLES

The next programme was a public meeting, presided over by D Lakshmanan, state convenor of the association. It started with a music programme by Kalaimamani S R Krishnamoorthy, a disabled person with no limbs, whose melodious voice stunned all the people present at the meeting. Another astonishing quality of this man, with only the trunk and the head, is that he is an MA in Hindi even though he can write only by holding a pen in his lips. He has the capacity to write for 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. This 60 years old man has a grip over Carnatic music and can mesmerise the people with his mellifluous voice. He is always happy, laughing and smiling, with not an iota of sadness on his face. His achievements tell us how the disabled overcome various impediments in their life.

 

A girl of 25 years, a speech and hearing impaired, performed Bharatnatyam to the tune of instrumental music. It was a stunning spectacle to see how she could maintain her body movement and facial expression while dancing with the rhythm of the music.

 

Those who addressed the gathering highlighted the grievances of the disabled persons and lambasted the nonchalant attitude of the union and state governments. 

 

As the chief speaker, Brinda Karat spoke on the obduracy and apathy of the central government towards redressing the painful condition of the disabled and ameliorating their lot. The central government has in this regard not played any active role so far, she said, adding that the eleventh five-year planís allotment of money for upliftment of the disabled was very meagre. 

 

There are four acts for the welfare of the disabled: (1) Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 (2) National Trust Act 1999 (3) Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992 and (4) Mental Health Act 1988. But none of these, the speaker said, is being implemented sincerely so as to meet the needs of the disabled. Rather, these are considered as pertaining only to medical relief for the disabled. This should change, and these acts must be regarded as pertaining to the rights of the disabled.

 

The constitution of Indiaís article 15(1) says one cannot be discriminated on the basis of caste, sex, race and religion. To it an amendment must be brought to cover the disabled. 

 

Brinda Karat said that, while in parliament, she had brought these issues to the notice of the government. The disabled are facing partiality, ill-treatment, rebuff, rebuke and disgrace. Their condition must change and they must have a descent life with dignity and honour. For this purpose, she said, the CPI(M) would keep raising its voice and fight firmly.

 

D Lakshmanan, in his presidential address, pointed out how the previous DMK government propagated that it had implemented several welfare schemes for the benefit of the disabled. That as sheer propaganda, he said. As of today, only 30 per cent of this section holds disability certificates; 70 per cent are yet to get the same. The former chief minister boasted of having created 5 lakh   jobs during his tenure. In that case, with 3 per cent reservation, at least 15,000 disabled persons should have been appointed. But the fact is that less than 2,000 were appointed.

 

As for the mental retarded children in Tamilnadu, there is no tangible plan or substantial project to protect them. Also, there are a number of parents who are too poor to take care of their mentally retarded children.

 

The government must start special residential schools for retarded children who are deprived of parents or come from poor families, instead of leaving them at the mercy of greedy and fraudster NGOs.

 

Kalaimamani H Ramakrishnan, former director of News Unit in Doordharshan Kendra, Chennai, also spoke. He elaborated in detail how the media and society are careless about the disabled and sometimes make fun of them.

 

The open session of the conference was impressive in all aspects and those who attended it returned with a feeling of confidence and courage.

 

DELEGATES

SESSION

The delegates session started next day, on the 28th morning, with an elected presidium consisting of D Lakshmanan, P Jeeva and C Abarna. Out of 345 delegates, 328 attended the session. 

 

After the welcome address, Brinda Karat inaugurated the session, dwelling on the neo-liberal economic policies of the union government and how it affected the Indian masses, including the disabled. She appealed to the delegates to build the organisation, enrolling more members as in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. U Vasuki translated her English speech into Tamil.

 

After the inauguration, S Namburajan, secretary of the association, placed the work report before the delegates, explaining the important events discussed in the report.

 

As many as 34 delegates took part in the discussion, expressing their views critically and also giving suggestions to be pondered.  These were about fund raising, launching a website, publishing a monthly journal, enrolment of two lakh members etc.

 

The delegates appreciated the associationís state centre for its continuous effort to bring numerous issues to the notice of the government and launch several struggles. After the discussion, S Namburajan summed it up, accepted some of the valuable points made by the delegates and assured that some of the suggestions would be implemented.

 

In the middle of the delegates session, CITU leader B Vikraman and N Nanmaran, former MLA and vice president of Tamilnadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, greeted the conference, assuring support to the TARATDACís struggles.

 

The delegates elected 61 members of the associationís state committee. They, in turn, elected 12 office bearers with Kalaimamani H Ramakrishnan as honorary president, B Jhansi Rani as president, S Namburajan as secretary and K Murugan as treasurer. They will be for a three years period --- from 2011 to 2014.

 

During the delegates session, it was announced that distinguished personalities like N Ram (editor-in-chief of The Hindu), Padmashree Dr Sirkazhi G Sivachidambaram, MD, and educationist Mr Dawood Miakhan had consented to be the patrons of the association.