Furthering the cause of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), the winners of the NCPEDP-Mindtree Helen Keller Awards 2019 were recognised at a ceremony in New Delhi on December, 2, the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The awardees included individuals and companies/organisations that have established themselves as role models in finding and furthering employment opportunities for PwDs. This year, 12 awards have been announced under three different categories.
In category A, ‘Role Model Persons with Disabilities’, the winners were M Ummul Khair, coordinator, Disability Legislation Unit and Legal Aid Cell, Vidya Sagar, Chennai; Aditi Verma, owner, Aditi’s Corner, Mumbai; Shriram Parthasarathy, marketing communications manager (social and digital media, and customer advocacy), Microsoft, Mumbai and Vineet Saraiwala, inclusion lead, Big Bazaar, Mumbai. In category B, recognising role model supporters Alina Alam, founder and CEO, Mitti Café, Bengaluru, Avinash Dugar, founder and CEO, La Gravitea, Jamshedpur and Surender Singh, manager (employment), Muskaan, Delhi.
In Category C, role model companies/NGOs/institutions were recognised namely The Association of People with Disability (APD), Bengaluru; Vishal Mega Mart, Gurgaon; Infosys, Bengaluru; Subros Limited, Manesar and Sense International India, Ahmedabad.
Congratulating the awardees, the chief guest on this occasion Dr Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman NITI Aayog said, “Disability is one sector which is still not in our consciousness. World Bank figures say there are more than a billion people with disabilities and 80 per cent of them are in developing economies such as ours. But there has been no movement at all marching towards the ministry.”
Dr Rajiv Kumar further said that disability issues should be addressed just not as a scheme, but as an implementation focussed program like that of 117 aspirational district programmes run by NITI Aayog. Corporates, NGOs, government institutions should all come together for such an intervention. He also mentioned that such intervention shall be facilitated by NITI Aayog itself.
In their twentieth year now, the awards have over the years have emerged as a credible way to map the progress being made towards greater dignity and empowerment of India’s 70 million disabled citizens.
Arman Ali, executive director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) said, “For over 20 years, NCPEDP has been working relentlessly to create a discourse on employment of PwDs. We are at that point now, where PwDs can no longer be ignored. Private sector should recognise such people as a talent pool and hire them as a mainstream part of HR Operations and not as CSR. The challenge is access to education, lack of awareness on disability issues and accountability of private sector— this cannot be just an urban phenomena.”