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Kerala government honour for empowering disabled people gets mixed reviews from activists

Posted in General

Recently, Kerala government won the ‘Best State in Promoting
Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities’ award for year 2019 from the
central government. Though the state government has previously introduced
many programmes for people with disabilities, nothing substantial has been
implemented till date. The state still has a long way to go when it comes to
creating an inclusive environment. Disability rights activists point out that
the central government must have merely analysed reports and figures while
the state largely remains inaccessible for people with all kinds of

Over the last few years, the government of Kerala had introduced many
programmes for empowering and enabling people with disabilities in the state.
The Social Justice Department of Kerala under leadership of Minister
KK Shailaja has received a lot of praise for their
initiatives. Last week, Kerala won the ‘best state in promoting empowerment
of persons with disabilities’ award for year 2019. Disability rights
activists point the award might not be really deserving as the state
government still has a long way to go when it comes to implementing the
programmes for members from the community. Even the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities Act, 2016 has not been fully implemented yet in Kerala.

Reports state how renowned hospitals across Kerala do not have even basic
wheelchair ramps. A wheelchair user is unable to go to a hotel or restaurant
without another person’s help. The government announces new projects and
schemes claiming to empower people with disabilities which later gets dropped
due to lack of funds. Thousands of applications were received
for electronic wheelchairs, but not even a single person has received it.
People with different types of disabilities who are eligible for jobs still
remains unemployed.

Unni Maxx, a disability rights activist from Kerala points
out the pathetic condition of a state.

I’am beginning to think how much more worse it would be for disabled people
in other states in India. Apart from big cities, small towns in the country
largely remains inaccessible. As a wheelchair user, I have never felt that
the government does enough for us here in Kerala. We are unable to even go
outdoors to public places due to lack of wheelchair ramps. Most of the
times, disability rights groups take initiatives and provide awareness to
officials at different public spaces. The state government is not even
there in the picture.-Unni Maxx, Disability Rights

Kerala Social Security Mission, National Institute of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation (NIPMR), Kerala State Handicapped Persons Welfare Corporation
and National Institute of Speech and Hearing are some of the pioneer
government run organisations that works towards empowering disabled people in
the state. Reportedly, the award will be handed over to the government by the
President of India on 3 December, which is celebrated as
International Day of Disabilities.

“This is definitely a positive note for Kerala government when compared to
other states. But I must say that we still have a long way to go. Just
because we are a little advanced than our counterparts, doesn’t make us the
best. When a new project is introduced, it immediately gets dropped off and
the government says that it is due to dearth of funds. Nothing substantial
ever gets done for the real empowerment of disabled people”, says
Jomy Joseph, a disability rights activist from Kerala.

Also Read: All tourist spots in Kerala will be
disabled-friendly & accessible by 2021, promises State Tourism Minister K


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