Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Posts tagged ‘Government’

Aam Aadmi Party’s Questions to the BJP in Goa

This statement was released by the Aam Aadmi Party Goa <> just prior to Sunday’s BJP meeting. addressed by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, in Goa:

Press Release
Margao Goa

In view of the upcoming “Vijay Sankalp” rally to be held in Goa by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Shri Narendra-ji Modi, the Aam Aadmi Party would like to pose the following questions for the BJP and its Government in Goa.

1) Why has the BJP Govt. delayed in finalizing the Regional Plan for Goa?

2) When the Goa Govt proposes to prohibit entry for Goans into casinos on the grounds that gambling is a vice, is it not anti-national for the BJP to encourage the rest of Indians to be addicted to casinos? The BJP should clarify whether they consider casinos to be “bharatiya sanskriti” or drop the word “bharatiya” from its name.

3) Why does the BJP as a political party oppose the CIC order to bring it under the purview of RTI? What does it have to hide?

4) Why was not a single case filed with the Lokayukta against illegal miners identified in the Shah Commission Report and the PAC report?

5) Why haven’t any proceedings been started to recover the Rs. 35,000 crores looted from Goa as per the Shah Commission Report?

6) Why did the Goa Govt betray the BJP’s written promise to amend the Goa Lokayukta Act on the lines of the Uttarakhand Act, even after an AAP delegation handed over a ready draft of the amendments to the Hon. Chief Minister as requested by him. Are the promises of the BJP not even worth the paper they are printed on? (see attachment)

7) Why has the implementation of the Right to Services Act been postponed numerous times?

8) Despite expensive foreign “study tours” and numerous assurances on the issue, why does piled up garbage continue to be the biggest tourist attraction of Goa?

9) Why has the written promise by the BJP to strengthen the Gram Sabhas and enact appropriate amendments in tune with the 73rd amendment not even taken up by the Goa Govt so far? (see attachment)

10) Why is the Goa Govt still dilly-dallying on settling the Mayem Evacuee Property issue?

Why are PwD not accessing Government Schemes in Goa?

Why are PwD not accessing Government Schemes in Goa?

A while back, a prominent daily carried a story that an astonishingly few number of People with Disabilities (PwDs) were accessing government schemes. Strange, because even a State like Goa should has a sizable number of PwD. According to the WHO about 7-10% of the population in a developing country is affected with some kind of disability. Since Goa could easily fit into the ‘developed’ category we could safely conclude that about 5-7% of its population could have a disability. Of course, it is also important to remember that the WHO uses a much broader definition as that used in The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. If we go by the WHO figures that would mean in a population of 1.4 million there would be anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 PwDs in the State. Now that’s a rather substantial number wouldn’t you say? and yet the poor response to Government schemes.

The answer perhaps lies in the widespread ignorance about schemes offered by the Department of Social Welfare in Goa and national agencies like the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the National Trust. It is about time that we in Goa got a bit sensitized, one to the issue of ‘Disability’, because PwDs live in our neighborhood and community, if only we’d care to see them, and secondly because States like Goa with a highly educated and sensitized population have much to contribute to taking the disability movement further.

Nationally there is much enthusiasm about a health insurance scheme called Niramaya, which had been launched on the 6th of March 08 by the National Trust and was initially meant for select poverty ridden districts of the country but has recently been expanded to all of India. A first of its kind the Niramaya scheme is specifically meant for the much neglected people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. It has been much hailed by parents and people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities who have been until now struggling to meet mounting medical bills and have had a long standing demand for government medical assistance.

About the scheme

As the objectives of the Niramaya scheme state, it hopes “to improve the general health condition and quality of life of persons with disability” and all age groups are covered by the scheme. The Niramaya scheme is applicable to all including children and the unemployed and offers equal coverage to all the disabilities mentioned above.

The Nodal Agency appointed by the National Trust, to implement the Niramaya scheme in all States across the country except J&K is Chennai based ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. Under this scheme, a health insurance cover is provided by ICICI Lombard, a General Insurance Company to people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.

Under the Niramaya scheme, insurance is available for up to Rs 1 lakh for an annual premium of Rs 250 and is free for persons with family income of Rs.15000 per annum and below eg BPL families. To get the benefits of the Niramaya scheme, a beneficiary has to enroll for the same by filling up a form that can be downloaded from or by asking ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. to email it to you.

A person with an income of more than Rs.15000/- per annum, has to remit a processing fee of Rs.250/-to the National Trust to join the scheme. The fee can be remitted in any branch of the State Bank of India towards a/c no.30396764585 at K.G.Marg, New Delhi, favoring ‘National Trust ‘NIRAMAYA’.

The enrolment form has to be sent to ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd., Chennai along with two photographs with the name of the applicant written on the reverse, a photocopy of the disability certificate, counter foil of the bank paying-in slip for having remitted Rs.250/-to the account of the National Trust and if the family is BPL, a certificate indicating the monthly income of the family. After which an identity card is issued to the applicant. The time taken to get the identity card is approximately two month’s.

How to benefit from the scheme

For treatment in a hospital or nursing home as an in-patient, the beneficiary has to produce the id card to the hospital authorities and if the hospital is one among the network of hospitals then the treatment will be offered on a ‘cashless basis’. The hospital will seek a reimbursement for the hospitalization expenses directly from the insurer.

The scheme reimburses services such as regular medical checkups, cashless hospitalization, therapy, corrective surgery, transportation, conditions requiring repetitive medical intervention as an in-patient and pre and post hospitalization expenses, subject to limits.

While cashless hospitalization facility is available in the network hospitals, for using hospitals and medical facilities not in the network, the patient first has to bear the hospitalization expense and then file claim with the insurance company for reimbursement of expenses. The claim papers should be sent to the ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd office in Chennai. There is also a procedure by which hospitals and medical facilities not in the network can join it by filing up forms and furnishing certain details, for more information download the Niramaya scheme details from the National Trust website.

In case of treatment as an out-patient, the beneficiary has to bear the expenses and after completion of the out-patient treatment can file a claim for reimbursement. In case of such out-patient treatment the claim papers along with the bills towards treatment expenses, doctor’s fee, pharmacy bills, etc., have to be submitted to ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. for processing.

Even though all PwD mentioned above are eligible and there will be no selection, it is reliably believed that the scheme will be operating on a first-come-first-served basis. It would therefore be advantageous to enroll early.

So come on people, if you know families or people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities please let them know about the tell Niramaya Scheme and encourage them to apply for it at the earliest.

Addresses that may help you

Dr.T V Ramesh
Business Head - Rural
117, St. Ebbas Avenue, P.S. Sivaswamy 
Salai, Mylapore, Chennai 600004.
Phone: 044 - 24980152 / 97899 82257


National Trust

9th Floor, Jeevan Prakash Building, 25,

Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110 001

Phone: 011- 23766898, 43520861,

Fax: 91-11-23731648


Website: /

This article was published in the Herald, Goa, on 14th October (Tuesday) 2008

Eyes on the future

Eyes on the future


The Government should address low vision problems in children.

It is widely believed that there are over 120 million people worldwide with Low Vision (LV), a condition that cannot be corrected, cured or treated by conventional medicine or surgery. Over 90 per cent of these people with LV live in developing countries.

According to the National Association for the Blind (NAB), this figure could be as high as 45 million children and adults in India. Approximately 50 per cent of all childhood blindness is preventable or treatable, unfortunately less than 15 per cent of those with a visual impairment have access to vision enhancement or rehabilitation services that could help change their lives! Despite the magnitude of the problem, LV is still sadly no where near the top of the agenda, for governments either at the state or national level.

Govt complacency

More than a decade on, the government has done little more than list LV as one of the seven disabilities in The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. Most of those with LV, despite having usable vision continue to be packed off to schools for the blind or neglected in the general school system simply because they don’t have access to or cannot afford vision enhancement or rehabilitation that could help them to integrate into regular schools.

A survey done among ophthalmologists in 2005, listed some of the barriers to effective treatment of LV in India.

It was found that an overwhelming majority of ophthalmologists lacked training and knowledge of LV, while others lacked awareness, a sizeable percentage cited non-availability of LV devices for effective treatment. On the other hand, it is important to remember that ophthalmologist can only provide medical intervention; while social and economic rehabilitation needs to be planned for and addressed by the government.

It is extremely important that LV during childhood should be addressed seriously because it has a tremendous impact on the child’s development, education, future work opportunities and quality of life. The disability has serious social and economic implications for the family and the negative effects experienced by the child will influence the child’s life and beyond.

Since nearly 50 per cent of LV and visual impairment is preventable, it is important to focus on the causes of LV, one of which is Vitamin A deficiency, which results in corneal scarring and thus visual impairment. Vitamin A deficiency gains special significance due to the high levels of malnutrition in the country. Economically backward states are known to have higher rates of LV due to malnutrition; other causes of LV include diseases that the mother may have during pregnancy eg Rubella and genetic causes.

Implement SSA

However, NGOs can do only very little and it should largely be the responsibility of the government to take steps adequate to the scale of the problem and size of the country.

The need of the hour is to implement the Sarva Shiksha Abhayan (SSA) so as to benefit children with LV. Launched in 2001-02, the SSA seeks to provide inclusive education for all with a zero rejection policy and strives for 100 per cent retention of all children in school. However, it has been largely found that children with LV are passive attendees in class, having not been provided text books with large print, magnifiers or assistive devices like spectacles; they are thus unable to reap the fruit of a formal education.

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, needs to go beyond paper and be implemented to bring concrete social and economic rehabilitation in the lives of those with LV.

The government must provide for the medical rehabilitation of those with LV, for if left untreated, LV can degenerate into a progressive loss of vision and only adds to the already large figure of totally visually impaired individuals in the country, thus further putting pressure on already scare welfare.

(The writer is a member of DisAbilityFirst, an advocacy group working on issues of disability)

(The above article appeared on the 23rd of May 2008 in the Bangalore Edition of the Deccan Herald,

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury

Besides physical and psychological rehabilitation, persons with SCI also need economic independence to lead a dignified life.

It is difficult to hazard a guess on the number of people that exist in India with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). However, it could well be somewhere between the Chinese figures of 65 cases per million and the US figures of 35 cases per million. Even if one takes a conservative figure of 40 cases per million, it would still leave us with a sizable 40,000 cases of SCI in India. Yet, SCI is a little acknowledged disability. While it may draw some medical attention; there is scarcely anything offered in terms of comprehensive physio-socio-economic rehabilitation from the government.

SCI is defined as damage or trauma to the spinal cord. This results in a loss or impairment of mobility and sensation. Common causes of damage to the spinal cord are trauma, brought on by accidents — vehicular or alcohol/drug induced, fall from heights, sports related, etc. It can also be caused by diseases such as polio, spina bifida, transverse myelitis and others. A larger number of men suffer from SCI, as they are more exposed to hazardous occupations at construction sites, painting buildings, etc.

Damage to the spinal cord is known as a lesion, and the paralysis is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia if the injury is in the cervical region or as paraplegia if the injury is in the thoracic, lumbar or sacral region. There are two types of lesions associated with a spinal cord injury; these are known as complete and incomplete injuries. A complete injury means the person is completely paralysed below their lesion. Whereas an incomplete injury, means only part of the spinal cord is damaged.

There are five degrees of disability for those with an incomplete spinal injury, A: complete paralysis, B: sensory function only below the injury level, C: incomplete motor function below injury level, D: fair to good motor function below injury level, E: normal function.

The effects of a SCI manifest themselves in different ways, like reduced ability to regulate heart rate, blood pressure and sweating, loss of upper and lower limb functioning, loss of ability to feel pain and thermal sensation, loss of sexual functioning, loss of bowel and bladder control, spasticity, neuropathic pain, atrophy of muscles, osteoporosis and bone degeneration, gallbladder and renal stones besides others.

Rehabilitation after spinal injury requires a great deal of support and patience, and involves a sizable team of professionals like a neurologist, rehabilitation specialist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, social worker, speech therapist, nutritionist, special education teacher, recreation therapist and clinical psychologist.

Post injury, persons with SCI need an extremely supportive and positive environment, besides immediate counseling to come to terms with their injury and to begin the process of recouping. Depending on the severity of the injury, they will also need months of intensive and expensive medical attention. Unfortunately, there is no welfare scheme, that allows people with a SCI to meet the cost of months of hospitalization and specialized care. A person with a SCI will need to re-learn the functioning of his body and be sensitive to signs of urinary infection and pressure sores. A person with SCI will also need immediate physiotherapy to prevent contractures and gain as much mobility as possible. Importantly, they require economic rehabilitation to allow them to live an independent life.

The above article was published in the Bangalore edition of Deccan Herald on the 13th of March 2008 –

PWDs: Need for a better deal

PWDs: Need for a better deal


People with disabilities, who number 70 million, are demanding political space.

Sixty years on, after the forefathers of this country attempted to seamlessly bind the socio-economic and political faultiness through various provisions, inequality continues to be the persistent hallmark of India. In this scenario, the highly debatable system of reservations has become a tool that has positively impacted the lives of millions especially women and Dalit. Today a new section of people are demanding the benefits of this system and they happened to be, People with Disabilities (PWDs).
Marginalised, socially, economically and politically, the 70 million PWDs who live largely on the silent fringes of our society are seeing the need for greater political participation as the surest means towards the larger emancipation of their lot. “When even smaller populations like Christians who are 2 per cent of the population in the country have two co-opted members in Parliament, why not we who are a sizable 7 per cent”, they demand in unison.

Thankfully, the Government of India recognised early that the greater political participation of PWDs was the only way out of the present situation of social and cultural ostracism, economic poverty, ignorance brought on by lack of education and political marginalisation and thus included disability in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. It was hoped that now at the grassroot, community level, panchayats, the first political face of the system would be made sensitive to disability.

No change in situation

By giving powers to panchayats on disability it was hoped that the 75 per cent of PWDs, who live in rural India, who presently have no access to rehabilitation would now get individualised assistances. Sadly, however, little has changed at the ground level since 1992.

Recently, studying panchayats in Kolar district revealed that gram panchayats had no accurate figures about the number of PWDs in the village, the panchayat officials were completely ignorant about the various types of disabilities and their needs and none of them had even heard of The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The panchayat offices were found to be inaccessible, over crowded with furniture, having long flights of steps and no ramps and having narrow doors. Worse, the panchayats had no budgetary allocation towards disability and were able to financial assist only a few people depending on how much they could scrape together from leftover funds.
PWDs also complained that when they visit the panchayat office for assistance they are treated shabbily and 95 per cent of PWDs had never attended a village grama sabha because of this insensitive attitude; forget about placing their issues before the grama sabha for public debate. Our observation of the 10 panchayats in Kolar district, which are located a little over 75 km from the capital of the state, gives us little hope of expecting anything different in the rest of the 5,400 gram panchayats in Karnataka.

Political reservation

The 15 lakh PWDs in Karnataka are determined to positively control their futures through a greater visibility and political presence, where they can manoeuvre the levers of development especially in areas that influence their lives. They are demanding that PWDs be given at least 5 per cent political reservation at the panchayat and zilla panchayat level, that panchayats be instructed to maintain a data base of PWDs in their area and that a special Disability Adalat be held at least once a year to address their grievances.
There is also an urgent need for panchayat officials being made aware of the Disability Act 1995 and for them to make a 5 per cent budgetary allocation for PWDs in the village. PWDs are also demanding that the grama sabha be held in an accessible place so that they can attend it without hindrance. At the state level, PWDs are demanding that there be at least five co-opted representatives of PWDs in the state legislature and that all political parties in the state have a clear stand towards the disability sector.

The above article appeared in the Bangalore edition of the Deccan Herald on 7th May 2007

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