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Want our votes? Reflect our needs - Disability rights groups tell national level parties

The Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s move to dedicate a section of its election manifesto to the disabled community has thrown the spotlight on the two main contenders in the national - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party.

Neither the BJP nor the Congress have released their manifestos, but the CPI(M)'s move has led to more voices calling upon them to reflect the needs of India's disabled population.

Charter of demands

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled(NPRD), a nationwide cross disability rights groups has written to BJP party president Amit Shah and the Congress party president Rahul Gandhi asking them to make certain commitments in their manifestos, including:

  • Implementation of provisions of the RPWD Act and Mental Health Care backed by adequate budgetary allocations.
  • Harmonising all laws in tune with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Review, amend the National Disability Policy.
  • Proper enumeration of all persons with disabilities as listed in RPWD Act 2016.
  • Simplify certification process, speed up issuing of UDID.
  • Clear backlog in government vacancies in time-bound manner. Create new employment avenues keeping in mind capabilities of people with disabilities.
  • Make buildings, public places, all modes of transport, information, transport accessible. This includes broadcast media.
  • Ensure a life of dignity for people with disabilities.
  • Zero tolerance for abuse of disability/disabled persons.
  • Hiking pension to Rs 6,000 and linking it up to price index.

"We have also called upon them to make manifestos accessible in print and audio formats as well as in sign language, says Muralidharan Vishwanath, General Secretary, NPRD, who drafted the letter.

It's high time the two national parties that claim to represent the interests of the country's population reflect their action plan for the disabled community, agrees well-known disability rights advocate Nipun Malhotra.

In 2014, the BJP's manifesto had made some provisions for the disabled community but they were open ended. Any national party that claims to represent the interests of the people should have a section on the disabled community because we are a part of India too. The BJP manifesto should talk about what they have done in the last five years for the community, what they have planned for in the next five years. Similarly, the Congress manifesto should counter these claims with what has actually been achieved. - Nipun Malhotra, CEO, Nipman Foundation

Rajvi Mariwala of the Mariwala Health Initiative , which has launched a countrywide campaign called Bridge the Gap talks about the words she would like to see in a manifesto.

"The party recognizes that mental health problems affect nearly 150 million Indians and is committed to improving the situation for mental health and the lives of persons with mental illness in our country. We therefore promise to allocate adequate financial and human resources to implement the National Mental Health Policy (2014) and the Mental Health Care Act (2017) in its letter and spirit.

By putting disability out there in black and white, the CPI (M) has brought the focus on the issue in this election. This hopes Rajiv Rajan, EKTA Foundation will push other parties to take it up seriously. "They must mention this in their manifestos as well after discussing it with the stakeholders and make the manifesto accessible for people with disabilities.

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