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Times Of India
7 June 2012

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

New Delhi: In a move to focus on the problems of the disabled, the social justice ministry has carved out a separate department to cater to the vulnerable group that accounts for more than two crore of the population.

The new disability department would be a big improvement on the small bureau in the ministry that merely had a joint secretary rank officer with a staff strength of 40.

India is seen as lagging behind even among developing countries in terms of sensitivity towards the problems of the disadvantaged. Dept for disabled to have separate budget

New Delhi: The social justice ministry has finally made a separate department to cater to the differently abled. It was felt that the troubles facing the disabled, counted at 2.1 crore in the 2011 Census, figured low on the hierarchy of concerns of the ministry of social justice that has many politically ticklish issues on its plate.

Creation of a new department is expected to redress the shortcoming. Social justice minister Mukul Wasnik said, "With the creation of this new department, we will be able to focus more on policy issues and problems of persons with disabilities.

There would be a separate budget for this department, which would help in strengthening the existing schemes and formulating the new ones, and also for technological innovations, which are very much required in this particular sector."

The minister stressed that, with the responsibility of the welfare of the disabled assigned to a separate department, it would be easier to coordinate with various stakeholders, NGOs, state governments, related Central ministries and international organizations like the United Nations, as India is a signatory to UNCRPD.

The new department would be headed by a secretary, three Joint Secretary–level officers among others. The entire staff strength would be around 150.

There is growing consciousness about disability welfare in the wake of increased assertion from the target group about their rights. The Centre has already embarked on redrafting the Disability Act.

The Centre runs seven National Institutes dealing with various disabilities, seven Composite Regional Centres which provide rehabilitation services to the disabled and run courses for rehabilitation professionals. It also funds NGOs involved in disability welfare besides National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation which provides loans at concessional rates for self employment to the disabled.

Times View
We hope that the creation of a new department for the disabled within the social justice ministry reflects a genuine determination on the part of the government to address their issues more effectively and not just a token gesture. It is also important that all of us in civil society recognise that it is not enough for the government to make an effort in this direction. If the manner in which our society deals with disability is to change, it is up to every one of us to contribute to that change. Institutions, whether in the public or private sector obviously have an important role to play, but so do individuals.

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