Skip to main content

'Woeful allocation': Union budget 'neglects, condemns' physically challenged persons

By Muralidharan* 

This year’s budget has been no different as far as the disabled community is concerned. They continue to be condemned to the margins and neglected, high sounding rhetoric like “inclusive India” notwithstanding.
In comparison to the previous year, there is merely a 1% increase. However, it needs to be underlined that the amount allotted for 2022– 2023 was underutilized by Rs. 196 crore.
It is disturbing that the allocations for the Scheme for Implementation of the (Rights of) Persons with Disabilities Act has been severely reduced by 90 crores, from Rs. 240.39 (BE) last year to Rs. 150 crore this year, despite the mandates of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which the government has miserably failed to implement.
It is the woefully inadequate allocation that is in the main responsible for the failure in implementing the provisions of accessibility within a span of five years as mandated by the RPD Act. Sadly, even support for important autonomous bodies established by Acts of Parliament that cater to persons with disabilities, like the National Trust and the Rehabilitation Council of India, remains the same.
Despite the devastating effects of the pandemic, the government has refused to heed the demand for free and universal health coverage for all disabled; removing the income criteria in the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana for persons with disabilities as also making a substantial increase in allocations towards mental health programmes.
The allocations for the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme remain unchanged at Rs. 290 crore as compared to last year. The government has refused to enhance both the amount and the coverage of the pension. 
The amount has remained unchanged at Rs. 300 for more than a decade and covers a mere 3.8 per cent of the disabled population identified by the 2011 census. One has to have a disability of 80 per cent and above and has to fall under the BPL category to avail the benefit of this scheme.
In the first budget of Amrit Kaal, except for promise of a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia, there is nothing to cheer about
Shockingly, allocation to MNREGS has been further cut by Rs. 13,000 crore this year. Compared to 2021-22 MNREGS allocations have been by reduced by nearly 40,000 crores (it was reduced by 25,000 crores last year). 
And this comes at a time when there has been a heavy reliance on schemes like the MNREGS in the countryside during the pandemic, which has also benefitted the disabled population in the rural areas. Cut in allocations for PM Poshan Yojana, ICDS programmes and food subsides -- will all adversely impact the disabled also.
Given the shrinkage of job opportunities in the public sector, to tide over the employment crisis it was incumbent that incentives/disincentives for employing/not employing disabled persons in the private sector were introduced. But this was not to be so.
In the first budget of the Amrit Kaal, except for the promise to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia (recognised as a disability under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act) by 2024 and screen over 7 crore people in the tribal areas, there is nothing to cheer about for the disabled population. 
They continue to be neglected, disregarded and condemned. It is not surprising that in the “inclusive development” guided by Saptarishi that the finance minister waxed eloquent, there was just one casual reference to “divyangjan”.
The urges all the state affiliates of National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled and other disability rights organizations to declare their staunch opposition to the budget's regressive aspects.
*General secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled



'Draconian' Kerala health law follows WHO diktat: Govt readies to take harsh measures

By Dr Maya Valecha*  The Governor of Kerala has signed the Kerala Public Health Bill, which essentially reverses the people’s campaign in healthcare services in Kerala for decentralisation. The campaign had led to relinquishing of state powers in 1996, resulting in improvement of health parameters in Kerala. Instead, now, enforcement of law through the exercise of power, fines, etc., and the implementation of protocol during the pandemic, are considered of prime importance.

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Bihar rural women entrepreneurs witness 50% surge in awareness about renewal energy

By Mignonne Dsouza*  An endline survey conducted under the Bolega Bihar initiative revealed a significant increase in awareness of renewable energy among women, rising from 25% to 76% in Nalanda and Gaya. Renu Kumari, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Nalanda, Bihar, operates a village eatery that serves as the primary source of income for her family, including her husband and five children. However, a significant portion of her profits was being directed toward covering monthly electricity expenses that usually reach Rs 2,000. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Work with Rajasthan's camel herders: German scientist wins World Cookbook Award 2023

By Rosamma Thomas*  Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are the only awards for international food culture. This year, German scientist  Ilse Kohler Rollefson , founder of Camel Charisma, the first of India’s camel dairies, in Pali district of Rajasthan, won the award for her work with camel herders in Rajasthan, and for preparing for the UN International Year of Camelids, 2024. 

'Very low rung in quality ladder': Critique of ICMR study on 'sudden deaths' post-2021

By Bhaskaran Raman*  Since about mid-2021, a new phenomenon of extreme concern has been observed throughout the world, including India : unexplained sudden deaths of seemingly healthy and active people, especially youngsters. In the recently concluded Navratri garba celebrations, an unprecedented number of young persons succumbed to heart attack deaths. After a long delay, ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) has finally has published a case-control study on sudden deaths among Indians of age 18-45.

Why is electricity tariff going up in India? Who is the beneficiary? A random reflection

By Thomas Franco*  Union Ministry of Power has used its power under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to force States to import coal which has led to an increase in the cost of electricity production and every consumer is paying a higher tariff. In India, almost everybody from farmers to MSMEs are consumers of electricity.

Union Health Ministry, FSSAI 'fail to respond' to NHRC directive on packaged food

By Our Representative  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the adverse health effects caused by packaged foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Recognizing it as a violation of the Right to Life and Right to Health of Indian citizens, the quasi-judicial body called for a response from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding its selection of front-of-pack labels aimed at providing consumers with information to make healthier choices.