Features

Disability in Northeast India

Lolano P. Khuvung
Disability problems in the North Eastern Region are so widespread that it has become impractical for such a less number of urban centric service providers to control the issue. Thus special attention is required to provide regional base infra structures to support the disabled. It would be beneficial for all those working in the field of disability in the north east region to come together irrespective of State Governments, agencies, NGO's and specially the parents of the disabled to strengthen the activities for the benefit of the disabled, work unitedly for creation of various service providing infrastructures systematically spreading over the geographical location and ensure that the basic minimum rights and privileges which has been provided under the PWD ACT 95 and National Trust Act 99 and under UN Conventions, to which India is a party are protected.

Parivaar and parents movement action group has so far been attempting to strengthen its relationship with the parents association and the NGO's in the north east besides looking for adequate support of the Government. The Government at the central level and the state level is finding it comparatively more effective to execute the coverage of the Acts with its collaboration with Parivaar.

The 1st summit on north east disability, a Parivaar programme, was sponsored by North East Council during February 2004 and was hosted by Meghalaya parents Association for disabled at Shillong. The summit received spontaneous support from all the states of North East. Its impact was so high that the summit has become the upcoming Regional platform to develop and monitor the Regional policies and progress in the field of disability at the advantage of all the state Government in the North East.

The 2nd North East summit tentatively to be held at Shillong during October/November 2007 is thus the outcome of tremendous support and pressure from all the states of the North East. This is a Parivaar programme and the Meghalaya Parents Association for Disabled has once again been privileged to host the 2 nd summit on North East Disability.

Government of India has announced the National Policy on Disability during February 2006, i.e. after 10 years of the implementation of the People with Disability Act 1995 (PWD ACT). The policy assigned the responsibility for implementation of the Act throughout the rank and file of the Government departments both at the state and central Government level. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been appointed the nodal ministry to co-ordinate the implementation of the policy, where the commissioners of disability at the central and state level have been assigned with the quasi judicial authority to implement the policy and enforce the Act 95. The policy also talked about the preparation of the Five Year perspective plan and annual plans setting the targets and financial allocations by each ministry/department indicating the progress achieved the year.

The reflection of above responsibility for implementation of the policy on disability in the XIth Five Year Plan and the annual plan and any kind of financial allocations thereto are yet to be seen, nor there exists any kind of observations or reports in this regard from the commissioners of the disabilities at the respective states and central government level. It has also failed to draw adequate attention of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee except for some isolated cases.

Thus it can be seen that the disability issue has not received substantial attention especially when it is in the North Eastern States of India. There exists some service providers, Associations of parents, disabled and self advocates in this region that are taking care of the disabled. However, the life of the disabled persons remains unchanged; their aspirations for a decent livelihood are a distant dream in the North East Region.

January 2008
Lolano P. Khuvung is a journalist working for the
DIPR, Nagaland.