Disability quota: mere tokenism or real benefit?

Mumbai: Forty-two-year-old Nilesh Singit heaves himself out of the back seat of the car and supports himself against it. His helper, meanwhile, fixes his crutches. Crutches fixed, bent at the waist, Singit, who has cerebral palsy, makes his way to meet us.

He needs help to sit on the chair.

Despite his very challenging disability, Singit has a Master’s degree in Literature, has dabbled in Law and done studies on disability issues. But he is unemployed.

He says it’s not the cerebral palsy that’s holding him back. It’s just apathy – of the government and the society.

And that’s why, says he, the Supreme Court’s decision of a 3 per cent reservation in government jobs for the disabled still does not mean a real chance for people like him.

His cynicism is not misplaced. Eighteen years ago, in 1995, the Government of India enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights And Full Participation) Act. The Act guaranteed government jobs for the disabled. But it’s hardly been implemented in 20 years. So what’s kept the government from implementing its own policy?

Varsha Hooja, a trustee at ADAPT, an NGO and advocacy group that works with the disabled, blames it on the lack of will in implementing policy.

It’s estimated that there are at least four crore disabled people in India and very often, it’s the social and practical problems that come in their career path.

“The government does not want to give you real facilities. If facilities are not given, this Supreme Court order makes no sense,” Singit rues.
And without the basics, the constant legal struggle to provide a level playing field to the disabled, means little.

The government though will have its hands full. The Supreme Court has given it three months to figure out how many vacancies it has for disabled people.

video of the interview

3% job quota: Win for disability rights?

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