Get-hooked February 2, 2020
Budget 2020 – Mixed reactions from disabled community
The Budget for the year 2020-2021 was announced on Saturday. This was the longest Budget speech ever by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. But did it have anything substantive for the disabled community? Here are some reactions from those who tracked the Budget announcements closely.
Nothing for disability sector in this Budget
Arman Ali, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People
“It is very disappointing that despite engaging with the Ministry nothing has changed for the disabled community. Approach towards disabled people remains that of charity and not of inclusion. A person with disability has a higher cost of living, higher cost of wellness and this should have been considered. Yet we see nothing. There are no tax exemptions, no promotion of employment and education opportunities, even the GST has not been lifted. There is nothing to look forward to”.
Disabled continue to be neglected
Murlidharan Vishwanath, General Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
- Omission of flagship programmes of this government like the Accessible India Campaign are glaring.
- Budget fails to acknowledge the existence of the RPWD Act 2016.
- It is appalling that there has been a reduction in allocations for the “Scheme for Implementation for Persons with Disabilities Act”, 1995. The Demand for Grants for the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities shows a marginal increase of Rs. 225 crores only. Even the “Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances” has seen an increase of a paltry 7.5 crores.
- No announcement of enhancing disability pension which continues to remain at a measly ₹ 300 per month.
- No substantial increase in the allocations for the National Mental Health programme.
‘Divine’ yet marginalised’
Dr. Satendra Singh, Disability rights activist
“An enhanced allocation of ₹ 9,500 crore is provided for senior citizens and ‘divyang’. That was the only thing for the disability sector by the Finance Minister in the category ‘Caring Society’ without any category. The intensity with which she said ‘divyang’ was completely missing while allocating the Budget to the most marginalised but yes ‘divine’ citizens”.
Push on infrastructure welcome
“₹ 9,500 crore larger figure than past”
Nipun Malhotra, CEO Nipman Foundation, Disability rights activist
“There is a big push by the FM on infrastructure and finally a procurement policy. There is an opportunity to use the Harmonised Guidelines by the Ministry of Urban Development and ensure this infrastructure is accessible to India’s disabled and in turn make 70 million PwDs a natural resource”.
₹ 9,500 crore has been set aside for PwDs which is a larger figure than the past. Hope it is used for education, skill development, disability aids and the almost defunct Accessible India Campaign gets a push. We need to move from charity and look at disabled as a natural resource!”
Money should be used to boost Accessible India Campaign
Disability pension still measly
Rushabh Desai, Independent financial advisor
“I hope the specific allocation of ₹ 9,500 crore is properly used for the various needs for PwDs and senior citizens and it gives a boost to the Accessible India Campaign. Even though the allocation is larger than the ones in the past, there is much more attention and allocation is needed. It is a also bit disappointing that there has been no announcement of enhancing disability pension which continues to remain at a measly ₹ 300/- per month. It is high time that society at large looks at the disabled as an “ASSET” and not a liability.”
Money set aside is commendable
Prajith Jaipal, Founder, Divyang Foundation Trust
“The government has set aside 9,500 crores for senior citizens and disabled. It is highly commendable. But they have not revealed more about Accessible India Campaign. So, I am waiting to hear some good news from that side too”.
We deserve more than this
Jasmina Khanna, Systems engineer
“Just mention of 9500 crore for senior citizens and divyang and nothing more specific given to people with disabilities in the Budget. This is very disappointing. We deserve more than this. Not even a single policy was announced for people with disabilities. At least the GST should have been removed from the equipment used by people with disabilities. Prior to GST there was no tax on these equipment”.
New tax structure is disappointing
Ajay Minocha, Financial analyst
“I am happy that education and infrastructure has got a boost but let us see how the implementation pans out. There is nothing to cheer for the disability sector. The new tax structure is disappointing. The new tax regime will lead to the foregoing of every benefit. The disturbing trend is the signal the Finance Minister has given to scrap out all the deductions. This will be big problem for people with disabilities”.
Process was not inclusive
T M N Deepak, Founder, 3 December
“Consulting with the stakeholders is the order of the day like in the West and there is sense in that. A democratic nation cannot ascertain the needs of the people without consulting its people. There is a marginal increase of 225 crore but focusing on PwD and senior citizens as Caring India is compromising of the flagship programme. If Accessible India Campaign has to be meaningfully achieved this increase will not touch the people. It is extremely disheartening and we never thought this government would be so mean to us”.
Scaling livelihoods for disabled people a moral imperative
Shanti Raghavan, Founder Enable India
“I had presented a blueprint for scaling livelihoods for PwD and shown how it is so tied to the economy. Apart from it being a fundamental right and a moral imperative, i think we in the social sector need to show government how it is an economic imperative and central to achieving the 5 trillion dollar economy aspiration. Perhaps we need to draw more attention to this”.
“Each one of us in the globe are increasingly facing more challenges: environment issues, more health issues than ever, longer lives with less quality, mental health issues, more road accidents etc. Inclusion of person with disability hold answers for all of us. Inclusion of PwD is inclusion of you and me”.
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