People with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks may get quotas in central government jobs and for promotions.
The Department of Personnel and Training has proposed vacancies, promotion quotas and an age relaxation for those with disabilities in a draft policy. The vacancies earmarked will be for the posts of office assistants to Indian Administrative Service officers. “In case of direct recruitment, four per cent of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength in each group of the posts, i.e. A, B, C and D, shall be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities,” the DoPT said.
Benchmark disabilities have been defined as blindness, low vision, deafness, the hardness of hearing, locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy and cured leprosy. Besides, acid victims, those with autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, mental illnesses and deaf-blindness (a combination of sight and hearing loss) will also be entitled to one per cent reservation.
A very noble proposition which the DoPT has sent across to the Central government departments for their suggestion, may, however, snowball into a controversy since ‘reservation’ is a very contentious and touchy issue in India, which polarises people and groups. The actual fruition of this proposal is fraught with further difficulties because the issue of reservation in promotion for persons with disabilities is lying before the Supreme Court and its verdict, when it comes, will have to be finally accepted. Whether the verdict is in line with the DoPT’s proposal, time will tell. But there is no gainsaying the fact that reservation has often led to violent battles in the country. It is still a live wire and the Patels and Jats are alternately raising their heads in violent aspersions holding the country to ransom.
There are trillions other religious and other ethnic subgroups in the country which are secretly wishing, sulking and ranting for reservation to them and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. The progressive women’s reservation bill in parliament saw nasty skirmishes whenever it came for voting by legislators and could never see the light of day due to several groups demanding several other reservations even within the proposed women’s reservation. Such a fiasco is certain to happen again once the reservation for the disabled is allowed. A smooth allowance to them is an impossibility in India, given the diverse needs and demands of a diverse population, each one of which has its own agenda to push.
Even in reservation for disabled, there will be demands for sub-reservations and quotas for OBCs, SCs, STs etc, which will eat into the quota of general category disabled, thereby defeating the purpose to a large extent. Now, let’s study the utility and need for such a reservation.
India is a vast country with a very eclectic mix of people of types, kinds, varieties, races and cultures. Being a country with a huge population, the number of physically or mentally challenged people too have to form a substantial chunk of it. It is unfortunate but true that India is still not a disabled-friendly country. Even a cursory look at our public places clears the picture. In most offices and institutions we still don’t find the facility of ramps, or wheelchairs, or disabled-friendly toilets on their premises. Our railway stations and bus stands, notwithstanding the chaos they are known for, are still bereft of most features and facilities which are supposed to be there. In fits and jerks some facilities are started but with time they remain only on paper. The perils of a challenged person in the Indian public sphere are endless. It needs constant jostling, shoving, fighting, pushing and running to keep pace with the fast paced urban life where it is a daily challenge even for a hale and hearty young man. Everyone is in a hurry and no one has time to think beyond his own survival. In such a rumbustious setting, it is pertinent to make things easier for those with difficulty. They are also part of society and deserve the same benefits everyone else is getting. The government has to think and design social system in a way that is inclusive of all types of people. We cannot ignore and neglect this section which too has lots to contribute to the world, given the right space and opportunity. They need the right social ecosystem to flourish and survive, right from school-level, which too are woefully inadequate to serve up to their special needs. It is only urgent and active government initiative and commitment that can change the scenario for them.
No half-hearted approach will work— that has been the bane of our governments. We need to go full-throttle and bring the change. It is not just about thereservation. Reservation will lend them better opportunities for certain and give them a better official validation in society but that will not necessarily ensure an easy day-to-day practical life. So, whether there is reservation in jobs or not, attention must also be given to the public facilities they get, or rather they don’t get. There has always been some reservation for certain sections of the disabled but that hasn’t changed their situation much as their practical difficulties in public life remain.
The government needs to mandate the offices, institutions, public places, schools, colleges, tourist spots and gardens to put in place the basic facilities so that the physically or mentally deficient could avail of the facilities independently, with ease. No civilised society in the world can sideline this important aspect of social life. The urban landscape in the West is fully equipped to facilitate a convenient and respectable life to the differently-able, which is not so in India—rather we woefully lack several of even the normal civic facilities like adequate public toilets, street lights or policing. Things are changing but the government process is tardy and tenuous, which needs a boost. The government has to stand by the voiceless and be their voice. That is the only way to reverse the situation. Once the government takes this up as a mission and campaign, more and more people and organisations will join in and make the programme a success. -Window To News