ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Concern over Disabilities Bill

As a person with visual impairment, the experience of disability has been a routine one for me, and disability studies constitutes a significant part of my academic engagement as well. I have also been involved with the activities of the disability rights movement. Your editorial “Disabled by Lack of Political Will” (EPW, 11 January 2014) was a timely intervention in the evolving debates on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill that was cleared by the cabinet in December 2013.

As a person with visual impairment, the experience of disability has been a routine one for me, and disability studies constitutes a significant part of my academic engagement as well. I have also been involved with the activities of the disability rights movement. Your editorial “Disabled by Lack of Political Will” (EPW, 11 January 2014) was a timely intervention in the evolving debates on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill that was cleared by the cabinet in December 2013.

The scenario has changed from the initial euphoria following the cabinet decision to one of serious concern. Since the cabinet-approved draft was never put up on the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) website at the time of the announcement of the decision of the cabinet to clear the bill, much of the disability sector expected the bill to be structured more or less on the lines of the 2012 draft that evolved out of a long consultative process. However, when the approved draft eventually became available in the public domain, the disability sector realised that not only were the concerns emerging out of the 2012 draft not addressed in the new bill, but also that we have gone back a long way. Although India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) way back in 2007 and the new bill was proposed to give effect to its provisions, many clauses in the new draft are against the letter and spirit of the UNCRPD.

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