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Archives for : Disability

MP- Six Disabled Inmates of Shelter Home ‘raped, sodomised’ for yrs


What makes this case even more horrifying is that Awasthi was accused of the same crimes by some minors of a Hoshangabad shelter last year, but was allowed to run his home in Bhopal, where he allegedly continued to prey on children as young as 10.

Congress took the youngsters to the party office for a press conference before they even had a chance to speak with police. Till late Friday night, police were still trying to take down statements and had not yet filed an FIR.

On Friday afternoon, 40 deaf and mute teenagers trooped in, accusing Awasthi of rape. The teens — who covered their faces — let out their sufferings through translator Shraddha Shukla. State Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza spoke in support of the survivors, and said, “Officials are not heeding their grievances. Why wasn’t Awasthi punished if he was found guilty in the Hoshangbad case last year? Why did the government allow him to run the Bhopal shelter?”

The six complainants alleged that Awasthi repeatedly raped them and would beat them mercilessly if they resisted. The teenagers submitted a signed complaint listing Awasthi’s horrendous and sickening act

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“People like you should not have sex” – Young people with disabilities claim their right to reproductive health

Stella Chiwaka, 28, has suffered stigmatization throughout her life for being born with albinism. © UNFPA Malawi/Leticia Nangwale
Stella Chiwaka, 28, has suffered stigmatization throughout her life for being born with albinism. © UNFPA Malawi/Leticia Nangwale

MCHINJI, Malawi – As Stella Chiwaka, a 28-year-old primary school teacher, walked into a local health centre for information on contraceptives, her hopes soared. Then the male service provider asked her something startling.

“Do you experience sexual feelings? Have you become sexually active?” he probed.

Ms. Chiwaka was born with albinism, a genetic condition that decreases the amount of melanin produced in the skin, hair and eyes. While she has suffered stigmatization throughout her life, she never expected to encounter it at a health centre.

“People like you should not have sex,” the service provider told her. Instead, she should live a life of celibacy.

Dejected, Ms. Chiwaka left the health facility never to return to it – or any other – for her family planning needs.

Abused for her disability

Ms. Chiwaka’s experience is not unique.

Onesta Chidyela, 27, was verbally abused by her mother-in-law
because of her disability. © UNFPA Malawi/Leticia Nangwale

On the day Onesta Chidyela, now 27, started menstruating, she rushed to tell her mother.

She knew that when her sisters had reached this milestone, they were taken to a secluded place and counselled on sexual health and hygiene. Now it was her turn.

But as the hours turned into days, and the days into weeks, the moment she longed for never came.

Ms. Chidyela has faced discrimination due to her disability throughout her life.

“I was called so many animal names [and told] I would give birth to a baby that would look like an animal,” she told UNFPA.

When she did become pregnant, even her mother-in-law joined in the abuse.

“I felt bad seeing this coming from someone who should support me,” Ms. Chidyela recalled. “After I gave birth I started using contraceptives. I do not want to become pregnant again.”

Empowering young people

Millions of young people around the world lack access to safe and effective family planning. But these challenges are amplified for people with disabilities, who are often unaware that they, too, have a right to make choices about their own health and sexuality.

Initiatives that tackle sexual and reproductive health issues often neglect the needs of young people with disabilities or other stigmatized conditions, leaving them particularly vulnerable to risky sexual behaviours as well as sexual exploitation and coercion.

“[Having a disability] has prohibited them from accessing sexual and reproductive health services and leaves them at greater risk of discrimination and exposure to HIV,” said Bruno Mwase of the Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD).

But a programme in Malawi aims to change things.

Ms. Chiwaka and Ms. Chidyela were among 150 young people to receive training from a programme of MANAD and the Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi (PODCAM). Supported by UNFPA, the programme launched in October 2017 to promote access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people living with a disability or other condition.

Young people in Malawi, as in many developing countries, often lack access to family planning information. The country’s adolescent birth rate of 136 births per 1,000 is over three times the global average.

“Being a girl and [being] deaf, I have very limited access to sexual and reproductive health information,” said Mphatso Seda, a young woman who participated in the training. “Nonetheless, I have gained knowledge, which will enable me to make reproductive decisions for myself.”

Taking action, making change

Today, Ms. Chiwaka is focused on mobilizing other young people with disabilities in her community. She has even formed a youth club to promote dialogue on sexual and reproductive health.

Ms. Chidyela says that the programme has enhanced her confidence. People living with disabilities, she told UNFPA, are often taken advantage of.

“I cannot begin to imagine what would have become of me if I was not on any family planning method,” she said. “I am a survivor.”

– Leticia Nangwale and Henry Chimbali

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Why are the Indian authorities afraid of a ‘half-Maoist’?

Ninety-percent-disabled Indian professor GN Saibaba is dying a slow death in prison, accused of having ‘Maoist links’.

by &
Professor GN Saibaba during an interview at his residence in the Delhi University North Campus on July 6, 2015 in New Delhi, India [Sushil Kumar/Getty Images]
Professor GN Saibaba during an interview at his residence in the Delhi University North Campus on July 6, 2015 in New Delhi, India [Sushil Kumar/Getty Images]

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took the reigns of power in New Delhi in 2014, assaults on public intellectuals, humanists, rationalists and secular forces have reached a feverish pitch. By the time the BJP completed its fourth year in office, prominent public figures such as scholar Govind Pansare, academic MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh were murdered by “unidentified assailants”.

As we write, Maharashtra Police made five fresh arrests of rights activists, including the veteran Telugu poet Varavara Rao, and raided the homes of journalists and scholars across India.

In June 2018 alone, five Dalit rights activists, including a lawyer and a professor were arrested for allegedly inciting violence against the very Dalit community (“untouchable” castes) they represent. These arrests were made under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which enables the prosecution of Indian citizens merely on the basis of their ideology and thoughts, not necessarily for any actual crimes they might have committed.

In addition to this legalised persecution, dozens of Muslims and Dalits were subject to live burnings and public lynching by the so-called “cow protection” vigilante groups, most notably in the BJP-ruled states of Maharashtra, Haryana and Gujarat.

But perhaps the most astonishing case of all would be the arrest and life imprisonment of the wheelchair-bound professor, GN Saibaba, for his alleged connections with Maoist revolutionaries. 

The 827-page verdict delivered by the Gadchiroli District and Sessions judge reads more like an extension of Franz Kafka’s epic novel, The Trial, riddled with senseless details about how five hard disks, 30 CDs and DVDs, and three pen drives recovered from Saibaba’s home were labelled, stored and transported by various investigative authorities, with barely a legible sentence on the actual crime committed by the accused.

The only passage that holds some credible meaning is the judge’s own lack of faith in his judgment: “The imprisonment for life is not a sufficient punishment to the accused, but the hands of court are closed with the mandate of Section 18 and 20 of UAPA”.

And the only crime committed by GN Saibaba is the possession of the above-mentioned “digital devices”, which consisted of some “Maoist literature and documents” and, by association, were adequate enough to prove his “digital” links to the Maoist revolutionaries operating in the remote jungles of East and Central India.

Yet, on the basis of this “literary” evidence alone, the Sessions judge came to the unmistakable conclusion that Saibaba is a “member” of the Community Party of India (Maoist).

Not only do these charges have little or no factual basis, but they render themselves impossible to any logical or rational substance given that Maoists are banned revolutionaries who operate discretely and anonymously, often using aliases and longhand notes to communicate internally.

They rarely use mobile phones or other “digital devices” and it is highly doubtful that they have equipped themselves with a printing facility in the jungle to produce membership cards and go about distributing them like marketing vouchers.

A “membership” with such a closed organisation, especially for an outsider, is a highly subjective, self-pronounced association based on one’s political views and ideological proclivities. But even if we assume that Saibaba is a “member” of the Maoist party, as the Kerala High Court has reasserted in an erstwhile case in 2015, it is not a crime in itself, unless the activities of the “member” in question are unlawful.

The Supreme Court of India went even further to censure the law enforcement authorities for randomly arresting people for possessing Maoist material, issuing a directive that owning Maoist literature does not make one a Maoist, no more than owning a copy of Gandhi’s autobiography makes one a Gandhian! 

Be that as it may, if Saibaba’s crime is worth life imprisonment in solitary confinement, then we need to go no further than the fraternity of Bollywood stars and Indian politicians to get a glimpse into the Janus-faced justice system in India.

Maya Kodnani, a cabinet minister of Gujarat in 2004, was convicted in 2012 for orchestrating the massacre of 97 Muslims, including 36 women and 35 children in Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya in February 2002.

Ironically, Kodnani was the Minister for Women and Child Development at the time of these killings, and was seen by the witnesses at the crime scene distributing swords to the Hindu mobs. For the brutal killing of 97 people, some of whom were butchered, mutilated, and even burned alive, she received a generous 28 years of imprisonment by a lower court. In April 2018, the Gujarat high court overturned the sentence. Kodnani walks free.

Salman Khan, a popular Bollywood star, was acquitted in a 2002 hit-and-run case after the testimony of his bodyguard, who stated that the actor was driving under the influence of alcohol when his car rolled over five homeless men sleeping on the pavement, was mysteriously deemed unreliable in an appeal 13 years later. 

Sanjay Dutt, another chest-thumping star, who was charged for the possession of illegal arms that were used in the Mumbai blasts in 1993 – killing some 300 civilians – received a mere five-year sentence, and was released on “good behaviour” after serving only three and half years, excluding numerous paroles, special family visits and a month-long furlough to look after his ailing wife.

While these three cases were dragged on for years, Saibaba’s case was wrapped up in a record time of three years. And luckily, these important personalities were not in possession of objects as lethal as “Maoist literature”, but just swords, AK-56s, explosives, and SUVs that roll themselves over innocent bystanders. 

But for a man whose sole crime was to own “digital devices”, even if he is 90 percent disabled, suffering from some nineteen other diagnosed illnesses, the same justice system shows little compassion to grant a bail.

Reiterating these concerns, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the Commissioner issued an unequivocal statement: “We would like to remind India that any denial of reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in detention is not only discriminatory but may well amount to ill-treatment or even torture”. 

Efforts to put Saibaba behind bars started in 2013 when the Maharashtra police approached the Aheri Judicial Magistrate to obtain a “search warrant” to see whether some “stolen property” from their state could be found in Saibaba’s house in another state in New Delhi.

The alleged property theft had occurred some 760 miles away from where Saibaba lived. On September 12, 2013, 50 police personnel and intelligence officials raided Saibaba’s house on the University of Delhi campus.

Under the pretext of recovering “stolen property”, they confiscated Saibaba’s laptop, hard disks, pen drives, CDs and mobile phones. During his interrogation, Saibaba fully cooperated with the police authorities, even providing them passwords to all his personal electronic devices.

But little did the professor know that his research material, teaching notes and political writings would be used as evidence for his alleged links with the Maoists. 

On May 9, 2014, when Saibaba was returning home from his office, policemen in civilian clothes obstructed his car just 200 metres away from his house and detained him. 

Since then, the state agencies have launched a systemic media campaign against Saibaba, painting him as the face of the so-called “urban Maoists” – an utterly senseless label given that there is no such thing as “rural Maoists”, even if the latter appear to be the state’s preferred enemy, to say nothing of the “jungle Maoists”, “slum Maoists” or “suburban Maoists”.

If that is not enough, referring to the five Dalit Rights activists arrested on June 6, 2018, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came up with an even more creative label, “half-Maoists“:

Willingly or otherwise, they become the over-ground face of the underground. They are a part of the democratic system. They masquerade as activist; they speak the language of democracy; they have captured the human rights movement in several parts of the country but always lend support to the Maoist cause.

If speaking the language of democracy or “capturing” human rights movements automatically translates into lending support to the Maoist cause, then the authors of this opinion piece should be called “quarter-Maoists”, “non-resident Maoists”, if not “cosmopolitan Maoists”.

But such endless streaming of prefixes to Indian Maoism by the state-sponsored Indian media has all but a single-minded, foregone agenda: to cast out anyone who questions state atrocities against Adivasis (India’s tribal people) – be they academics, environmentalists or Dalit activists – as “urban Maoists”. 

Like the “polluted” Dalits who were ostracised from the village proper to preserve the “purity” of the Brahminical castes, Maoists have become the new untouchables of India, whose very ideological proximity to one’s pedestrian views or private thoughts is enough to label him/her as their card-carrying member. 

In Chattisgarh alone, this ostracising campaign has reached such contagious proportions that when 10 tribal men, alleged sympathisers of Naxals – a vernacular term for Maoists – were killed by the state police in 2010, a bench of Supreme Court judges went on recordto say that: “First, you say that operations are conducted against Naxals, then Naxal sympathisers and then sympathisers of such sympathisers. What is all this?”

GN Saibaba is a glaring victim of this systemic campaign to outcast Maoism from the civic and public spheres of debate, discussion and dissent. How else could we explain his incredible transformation from a child of illiterate peasants to a force so fearful and lethal that a small-scale army of “2000 police persons, 100 vehicles, and 20 land-mining clearance machines” was mobilised just to escort him from police station to court? What was his crime? What are the weapons of his choice? 

The mineral wealth upon which some 20 million Adivasis have settled from time immemorial is the major bone of contention. Their capital worth, as speculated by the Indian corporate elite, is $1 trillion. The easiest way to acquire this treasure trove is by bulldozing the Adivasis.

GN Saibaba came into the media limelight in early 2010 when he began to speak against the notorious military offensive Operation Green Hunt launched by the Indian state in November 2009. Its aim was to crush the Maoists, but the prize of it would have been the 55,000 hectares of mineral-rich Adivasi land, known variedly in the paramilitary’s shorthand as “Pakistan” or “Red Corridor”.

But it is not that GN Saibaba became an overnight sensation. He had a long history of championing issues of social justice and civil coalition movements. In 1997, he became the General Secretary of the All India People’s Resistance Forum. In 2004, he co-organised the Mumbai Resistance, which showcased alternative forms of civil society resistance to the World Social Forum. 

But why was Saibaba drawn to issues of civil and social justice in the first place? Is it so inconceivable that someone born into a “backward caste” family, who lost every inch of their three acres of farmland to the moneylenders, added with the burden of physical impairment, is drawn to the struggles and suffering of Dalits and Adivasis?

Is it so intolerable that Saibaba, a professor at a publicly funded university, chose to teach, speak and research on civil rights movements, tribal resistance and Maoist revolution?

Spare a thought for his colleagues at Delhi University, who risked their own careers to launch a sustained campaign against Saibaba’s imprisonment, some of whom indeed became the targets of repeated harassment, various disciplinary actions and suspensions by the university administration. And the process of outcasting many members of Saibaba’s Defence Committee as “urban Maoists” is already under way.

Not because these members sympathise with Maoism, but simply because they sympathise with someone who is allegedly sympathetic to Maoist views. The Brahminical logic triumphs yet again: one becomes “polluted” not only because one comes in direct contact with an “untouchable” person, but also because one touches someone who has allegedly touched an “untouchable” Dalit!

When the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen spoke in support of Binayak Sen – a physician and a civil rights activist, who is currently facing life imprisonment under the same sedition law which was used to silence Saibaba -, the Indian intellectuals in the West applauded his courage for questioning the shirking democratic values in India.

But the same intellectuals who offered the world various intellectual optics of postcolonial theory and subaltern studies, built on the histories and struggles of peasants, tribals and Dalits, have remained eerily silent about the persecution of a disabled public intellectual who literally crawled his way from a remote south Indian village to the elite educational institutions in India because he couldn’t even afford a wheelchair.

The figure of Saibaba is indeed one of a crawling creature whose dignity is being incrementally stripped away by the prison authorities who refuse him access to a special-needs toilet, medical treatment and spousal visits and haul him in and out of police vehicles like a piece of baggage.

Saibaba now sits in Nagpur Central Jail, in the solitary confinement of the notorious Anda (egg-shaped) cell with 360-degree surveillance, disabled from below the waist, enabled by his only functioning hand, and doing what he knows best – putting his pen to work:

The closure of my voice within me exploded my crippled body from each of my organs. One after the other, my organs started bursting. The silence within me explodes into shooting pain. My vocal cords acquired lesion making my voice a thin and inaudible shrill. My heart broke with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. My brain has started having blackouts with a condition called syncope. My kidneys are silted with pebbles; gallbladder gathered stones and pancreas grew a tail of pain called pancreatitis. Nerve lines in my left shoulder broke under the conditions of my arrest, named as brachial plexopathy. More and more organs of silence replaced the original. I have been living with explosive and shooting pain day in and day out. I am living on the margins of life.

A 10 percent able body. A “half Maoist”. Full life sentence. A slow and screaming death, organ by organ.

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India -Luxury tax on wheelchair parts like ‘penalizing disability’, say activists

When 99% of India is inaccessible and unfriendly towards people with disabilities, where is the logic in taxing disability as a luxury?

That is the question being asked by wheelchair users and disability rights activists, who are angered by the move to levy a luxury GST rate on wheelchair parts and accessories. Before GST, these were exempt from taxation and customs duty.

The Centre first proposed an 18% tax on wheelchairs, which was brought down to 5% after protests. However, there is confusion over imports of wheelchair parts as these have been classified under two different GST rates:

  • HS Code 90 – Includes crutches, wheelchairs, walking frames, tricycles, braillers and artificial limbs. These attract 5% GST.
  • HS Code 8714 – Parts and accessories of vehicles. Attracts 28% GST.

Prashant Singh, who designs customized wheelchairs, has petitioned the GST Council for clarification on the matter. The taxes are hitting the wheelchair industry hard, as many companies import crucial parts and accessories.

A person who uses wheelchairs is often using it for 12-18 hours. They don’t have upper body strength, so we need to provide the technology that gives them upper body support. A person sitting on the same position has to be given a positioning cushion, else it will lead to posture deformities. Same is the case with parts like back rests and head rests. – Prashant Singh, Specialized Mobility Operations & Innovations Pvt Ltd

Backing Singh’s petition is Chennai-based Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), which says the government is penalizing disability.

Wheelchair parts are not a luxury item! If spinal cord injured people are to be functional, they need wheelchairs. If they use wheelchairs, they need wheelchair cushions. It is not for comfort but for lifesaving reasons. Why is this being treated like the equivalent of designer leather covers for a car – Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Disability rights activist

It is an issue that has found support across India among many wheelchair users and activists. For people with spinal cord injuries, who face the risk of pressure sores, the tax on life-saving accessories seems out of touch with their everyday reality.

As a spinal cord injury patient, I spend a lot on basic facilities like travel because there is nothing provided for me in terms of accessible public transport. Now you are saying that I have to spend even on cushions etc. The cost of a good cushion to relieve bed sores is Rs 5,000- 6,000 and on top of that, the government is levying GST. This must be done away with – Dr Ketna Mehta, Founder, Nina Foundation

Even in the West, these parts are expensive. Given the purchasing power in India, very few people can afford to pay these rates. Something basic like a catheter is out of reach for many people. There are people who use the same catheter for weeks, when it should be 4-5 catheters in a day – J D Madan, Quadriplegic Racer

Jayakumar says the government must act by harmonizing GST for all disability-related products and acknowledge the moral ambiguity of taxing people who are biologically different.

Tax all products for disabled at 0% with input tax credit facility so the final stage supplier will be able to recover advance credit from the government. This way the disabled consumer will get the fairest price, who will also be the recipient of end user exemption – Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Disability rights activist

Clearly this is a case of yet another policy-level decision that is indifferent to the needs of India’s disabled community. To reduce something as essential as a wheelchair to a luxury item, is nothing less than a cruel joke.

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NSSO 76th sample survey to include acid attack victims, autism

The survey is being conducted after a long gap of 16 years and nationwide this will be the first survey after the formulation of Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016.

Kolkata June 12 (IANS) The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) set up in 1950 for collection of various kinds of socio-economic data will begin its 76th round from July 1 to cover persons with disability including acid attack victims and drinking water sanitation hygiene and housing condition an official release said here on Tuesday.

This is the first time the survey on disability is to be conducted in which some rare types of disability like autism spectrum disorder cerebral palsy dwarfism haemophilia multiple sclerosis muscular dystrophy Parkinson s disease sickle cell disease and thalassemia as well as acid attack victims are included.

For this purpose NSSO started a 3-day formal training of its Field Officers here on Tuesday.
The training programme was inaugurated by Additional Director General Sample & Research Division NSSO Tapash K. Sanyal.

He said other forms of disabilities including physical visual hearing speech and mental disability will also be taken into account as usual.

The objective of the survey of persons with disabilities is to estimate incidence and prevalence of disability cause and facilities available to the specially-abled persons difficulties faced by them in accessing public building and public transport and out of pocket expenses due to disability.

The survey is being conducted after a long gap of 16 years and nationwide this will be the first survey after the formulation of Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016.

The other part of the survey will focus on some basic amenities like drinking water sanitation electricity garbage disposal type of dwelling units hygiene and housing conditions etc.

The data will be collected from all parts of the country and the same will be used by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry of Health and Family Welfare NITI Aayog UNICEF WHO among others.

–IANS ssp/vd

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Indian Court allows visually disabled woman to fulfil dream of becoming judge #Goodnews


Ashutosh Shukla

Rashmi ThakurRashmi Thakur
BHOPAL/JABALPUR: The Madhya Pradesh high court will hold an exam for civil judge recruitment in July for just one candidate — an extraordinary step for an extraordinary person.

Jabalpur lawyer Rashmi Thakur, who is 75% blind since birth, scored 85% in her prelims despite being barred from using a writer (scrubber, in legal terms). She fell short of the cut-off by 5% and moved high court, which felt that her score in such trying circumstances was worth more than the cut-off. Since the main exam was over, a division bench of Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V K Shukla ordered another exam, just for her.

Asked how she managed to give her online prelims, she told TOI: “I can write only if I keep the paper an inch away from my eyes. That is the limit of my vision. That’s how I gave my papers in school and colleges. That’s how I gave my online exam.”

After getting her law degree in 2013, she immediately started practicing in court. “But I always wanted to be a judge. In 2016, when I read about Brahmanand Sharma of Rajasthan, a visually-impaired person like me making it to judicial services in his state, I saw a ray of hope,” said Rashmi.

Her first hurdle was a rule that only those suffering from orthopaedic disability would get benefit of reservation. She wasn’t allowed a scrubber, either. Undaunted, she moved HC to include visually-impaired on the list of disabled persons but with no success. In 2017, when 94 vacancies of civil judges were advertised by the high court, she applied as a general candidate. And, this bold decision eventually paid off.

She fell short of the qualifying score by 5% but filed a writ petition in HC, with the help of senior advocate Surendra Verma. A division bench of Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V K Shukla was impressed by her fortitude and accepted her argument. The bench not only allowed her to appear in the main exam but also ordered inclusion of visually-impaired persons on the list of disabled and provide them reservation.

“Justice Gupta was very appreciative of my efforts. Taking the online exam without a scrubber was difficult. I have given online exams in the past as well but every time I was allowed to sit with a scrubber,” said Rashmi.

“It is not a personal victory for me. All my visually-impaired brethren have won. They will now be provided with a scrubber and also get the benefit of reservation,” said Rashmi.

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India – Cabinet approves establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation at Bhopal

The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) at Bhopal as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The estimated cumulative cost of the project is Rs. 179.54 crore in first three years. This includes non-recurring expenditure of Rs. 128.54 crore and recurring expenditure of Rs. 51 crore.
The Union Cabinet has also approved the proposal to create three Joint Secretary level posts, which include one post of Director of the Institute and two posts of Professors.
The main objectives of the NIMHR are to provide rehabilitation services to the persons with mental illness, capacity development in the area of mental health rehabilitation, policy framing and advanced research in mental health rehabilitation.
The Institute will have nine Departments/Centres and will conduct 12 courses to offer diploma, certificate, graduate, post graduate, M.Phil degrees in the area of mental health rehabilitation. Within a span of 5 years, the student intake of the institute in various courses is expected to be over 400.
Government of Madhya Pradesh has allocated 5 acres of land in Bhopal for setting up of this Institute. The Institute will be established in three years in two phases. Within two years, the civil and electrical work of the institute will be completed. Simultaneously, during the construction of building, the Institute will run in a suitable rented building in Bhopal to conduct certificate/diploma courses and also OPD services. Subsequently, the Institute will provide complete set of rehabilitation services for persons with mental illness and conduct courses upto Master’s degree and M.Phil.
NIMHR will be the first of its kind in the country in the area of mental health rehabilitation.  It will serve as an institution of excellence to develop capacity building in the area of mental health rehabilitation and also help the Government to develop models for effective rehabilitation of persons with mental illness.

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Rajasthan – Meet the first visually impaired judge #disability #Goodnews


  • 31-year-old Brahmananda Sharma, who lost his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of 22, always wanted to be a judge and did not once think of giving up his dream.
  • Sharma, who hails from Bhilwara and studied in a government school, appeared for the 2013 Rajasthan Judicial Services Examination and cleared it in the first attempt, securing 83rd rank.

Brahmananda SharmaBrahmananda Sharma

AJMER: Like any other judge, 31-year-old Brahmananda Sharma refers to the court proceedings several times over. However, like them, he does not read through the notes. The first visually impaired judge of Rajasthan, instead, listens to the recorded proceedings.
A civil judge and judicial magistrate of Sarwar town of Ajmer district, who lost his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of 22, Sharma always wanted to be a judge and did not once think of giving up his dream.”I even approached a coaching centre but they refused to help me. It is my family which helped me all through. My wife, who is a teacher at a government school, read out the books and we maintained a recording of the readings, which I listened to frequently,” he says, speaking to TOI. Sharma, who hails from Bhilwara and studied in a government school, appeared for the 2013 Rajasthan Judicial Services Examination and cleared it in the first attempt, securing 83rd rank. The Rajasthan High Court recommended a year’s training for him, after which he joined the service in 2016. His first posting was in Chittorgarh, from where he was recently transferred to Sarwar.Hundreds of advocates come to the court and Sharma claims, he can recognize them all by their footsteps. “Many a times, I sense that advocates and their clients are skeptical and even wonder if a visually impaired man can ensure justice. They seem to forget that even the eyes of the woman of justice are covered. I do justice weighing the facts and merits of a case, just the way it should be,” a confident Sharma says.

Sharma uses an e-speak device connected to a computer, which converts and records the notes made by the reader into speech. “When an advocate approaches my court with a petition, I ask him to read the plaint as well as the attached documents. His voice is enough for me to judge his authenticity,” says the judge.

He listens to the recorded arguments made by advocates and statements made by witnesses and clients several times over. “I have to be sure that I don’t miss out on anything, which might be crucial for the case,” he says.

“The use of technology should be increased in the judicial system so that people who are illiterate can also understand what actually is being done by the court. It will also bring transparency as the illiterate witnesses can later hear their statements given to the court,” adds the judge. Managing the staff is a little tough, he accepts, but he does it by evaluating what his reader or clerk is doing or speaking. Sharma says that he is happy that he not only maintained his self-esteem but also proved that nothing can stop a person from fulfilling his dream. “I have no remorse for my disability,” he adds.

Meanwhile, In 2009, T Chakkaravarthy, he created a judicial history by probably becoming the first visually impaired judicial officer in Tamil Nadu to hold court.In March 2009, when the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) included him in the list of 180-odd candidates for the subordinate judiciary, Chakkaravarthy’s 17-year dream to enter the judicial service was realised. Born at Thimiri village near Arcot in Vellore district, this 41-year-old lost his eye sight at four, when he was down with small pox. He is now the proud occupant of III additional district munsif’s chair in Coimbatore.

On his first independent day in court on Monday, Chakkaravarthy heard cases on his own. Though he said he had struggled a lot to reach the position, and indicated that he might require the services of an assistant, he did not wish to elaborate on that. He said that being a judicial officer he would require permission from the High Court Registry to speak about himself and other related issues. Perhaps to assist him in his work, Chakkaravarthy’s wife Thilaka is studying LLB now.”This candidate did not require any special arrangements during his training and induction programme,” said S Vimala, district judge and former director of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy. Noting that Chakkaravarthy had cleared all requirements before his selection, Vimala said chief justice HL Gokhale met him during the induction training and assured him of the higher judiciary’s all moral support to him.

The issue of visually impaired persons seeking to break into the judiciary is not new in Tamil Nadu. In 2003, authorities rejected a visually disabled candidate’s application for a subordinate judiciary post. He had to file a writ petition seeking a direction to the authorities to permit him to write the examination. Though he managed to be short-listed from out of thousands of aspirants, the candidate stumbled at the interview stage, said a jurist who argued for the candidate.
The case, however, had triggered a serious debate on the issue, with questions such as what is handicap?’ Referring to the half a dozen outstation judges, who were on transfer from other states, the jurist had argued that language was a barrier/handicap to those judges, and that they had to take the help of either a co-judge or the court staff for translation or interpretation.

When the bench, headed by justice Jayasimha Babu, asked as to how would the disabled person look into the eyes of the accused and assess the demeanour, the jurist argued that it was an old technique as “looks are deceptive nowadays.” The bench relented finally and allowed him to write the examinations.

The jurist had also to point out the fact that justice Zakeria Mohammed Zak Yacoob became judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa despite his blindness. In West Bengal, Sadhan Gupta was made advocate general in 1986-87 though he too was visually impaired.

The district munsif only needs to listen to chief examination and cross-examination before dictating his verdict to a steno, he said.

Times of India

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India – Inclusive Karnataka Election -2018 ? #Disability

Here’s what to expect :

1) Barricading will not block your access by vehicle to drop off point close to booth

2) Each booth has signage indicating priority queue for voters with disabilities & senior citizens

3) Keep an eye out for a wheelchair volunteer – 1/4 polling stations have wheelchair facility.

4) A 1:12 gradient ramp with handrails should facilitate your entry and level-free passage inside the station.

5) Show your voter id card or a photo ID like passport, PAN / Aadhaar card for verification

6) Get inked.

7) If you are an English Braille user, ask for a copy of the dummy ballot paper with the order of candidates listed
on the EVM. Memorise your preferred candidate’s number. The number after the last candidate is the NOTA
(none of the above) option.

8) Braille numbers are embossed to the right of the voting button, on same line as the written text. Wait for the audiovisual feedback after pressing the button to confirm your vote has been cast.

9) If you’d like to vote with a companion’s assistance they will need to fill a declaration (under section 49N of the Conduct of Elections Rules) and you will be required to sign / fingerprint the polling booth official’s 14A book.

Your companion will also be allowed to vote immediately after you.

10) Fill the form at to tell us how your voting experience was.

Booth-capturing‘ pictures of good / bad amenities? WhatsApp +919003021773, share on social media with hashtag  #Votability, Tweet @Disabilitylndia or email [email protected]


Let us know whaich booths were inaccessible


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Advertising – #VijaySales must #TakeDown An Ableist Ad That Mistakes Blindness For Incapability

Is The Internet Blind?

Persons with disabilities have been subjected to society’s insensitivity since time immemorial. To say that television commercials and films have ridiculed persons with disabilities in numerous instances is an understatement. In the streak of such commercials and films, here is this recent advertisement by an electronics retail store chain, “Vijay Sales”.

The advertisement that can be found here is one of the many commercials of Vijay Sales that says, “Internet dekh nahi sakta (the internet can’t see).” The advertisement shows a person who calls himself ‘Internet’. The customer is shown asking Mr Internet “if he could see her gestures” to which he replies: “No! I can’t see.” He’s shown wearing dark glasses (the fatuous symbol of blindness) and is supported by two women.

There are many preposterous scenes in the commercial that show the blind man looking away at a wrong direction; not being able to understand the customer’s questions because of his blindness; relying on his cane (again used as a symbol for blindness).

I still don’t understand the point of drawing an analogy between the internet and a person with visual impairment. The latter is also a “divyang”. Does the internet possess such supernatural powers?

This advertisement is a pressing example of how the Indian society is still bound by the shackles of ideologies undermining the potential of persons with disabilities. To show that the internet has a limitation in responding to the customer-centric queries is one thing and showing that a blind person is not capable of doing things labelled as ‘normal’ by the society is different. I believe the advertising agency hired by Vijay Sales doesn’t understand the difference between blindness and incapability. To use both these words as synonyms is truly derogatory.

Persons with disabilities have proven their mettle in almost all walks of life. Persons with blindness have broken all the glass ceilings and have been great successes in the world.

It is not hard to understand that Vijay Sales seeks to compete with stronger e-commerce rivals through the commercial. However, would the use of persons with disabilities in such a way yield profits for the business? Persons with disabilities have been mostly excluded from the mainstream economic channel of the country.

Activists and organisations have long been demanding economic and financial inclusion for them. However, I didn’t know that financial inclusion would mean this: including blindness in a commercial in a nonsensical manner and earning profits from it. The internet can’t see? I believe Vijay Sales and their advertising agency are actually not able to see (with their sight) the derogatory remarks they’re making in this commercial.

This article is only an addition to the great pool of articles talking about the need to sensitise people about the great diversity that exists in India, and the world at large. It’s high time we make these people realise that earning profits through ridiculing underprivileged sections of the society is an act of shame. To conclude this post, I would only say that Vijay Sales must take down this advertisement right away and put up a public apology.

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