My notes and musings …

Posts Tagged ‘disabilities


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It is not very difficult to spot a person with disabilities (PWD). Yes, it is much easier to spot one with physical disabilities, and with a little observation one can spot those with psychological disabilites. Many around us have an inability – they are unable to recognize the rights of PWDs. And almost all of us have an inability to identify our own actions that tread on the rights of PWDs.

The CHC fellows were visiting Community Based Rehabilitation Forum. Thanx to my status as the spouse of a fellow, I joined the group for the day-long program. Mahesh, one of the community mobilizers led most of the discussions and was helped by Nicholas the director of CBR Forum. After many years of working with PWD, ensuring the individual and community rights of PWDs is the direction that CBR Forum is headed in, similar to many other organizations working with other minorities. They work with community based organizations towards increased awareness of the rights of PWDs currently coded in the Indian constitution. They help mobilize and organize capacity building workshops to develop local leadership within these organizations and communities. They work with progressive movements across the country to correct / improve the effect that new laws and rules framed by the Govt. have on PWDs. I found this to be the most impressive part of their work.

An example of this is the text of the National Rural Employment Guarentee Act (NREGA), 2005. Initial drafts of the law considered all able-bodied people in rural districts of the country to be eligible for employment under the act. If one talks about an employment guarentee to revive rural livelihoods and economies, then why should it be restricted to able bodied persons? In fact if one looks at the demographics, the development and health indicies of PWDs are typically worse than that of the community they live in. Lobbying from this perspective, CBR Forum along with other organizations working with PWDs were able to have the drafted appropriately amended.

The inclusivity of a people’s movement or a community based organization when it comes to PWDs in the local community is an indicator of its politics. Though one should be vary of treating it as a litmus test, it is a useful filter to understand the organization. This is especially true when the movement or the CBO claims to work with/for the most marginalized sections of society. Thinking back to our interactions with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan in Sitapur, I could see the significance of the variety in its leadership. Women play an active and significant role in decision making within the group, and many of them are from dalit families. Tama and Kamlesh are a couple of PWDs that I can identify as those who have stepped up to take up leadership roles within the organization. Equally encouraging is the fact that the group keeps interests and needs of PWDs in focus during its decision making process.

Seeking to correct the condition of PWDs should naturally include working with the community at large, i.e. ‘those with inabilities’ and not just ‘training the disabled’. Even before this is the need for us to identify our own ‘inabilities’. The first step in this direction would be to include PWDs in decision-making processes and encourage them to take up leadership roles.

Written by Dwiji

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 07:51

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